the journey really starts tomorrow,
i will be up before the sun,
heading high into the north georgia mountains
to a parking lot cut into a cornfield on a remote mountaintop.
there i will meet a hundred hopeful runners.
a few are elite multi-day athletes
but most are just ordinary people.
with ordinary jobs
and ordinary lives…
who hunger for the chance to do something extraordinary.
out in that cornfield
i will see them off
as they will begin that journey.
they will load up in tour buses
to begin the all-day drive backwards over the course.
as the hours and miles roll past
that ride for the virgins
ranges from sobering to intimidating.
talking about 314 miles is one thing.
seeing it unfurl
in all its hot, humid, hilly vastness
is another thing altogether.
even the seasoned veterans have to wonder
how their fragile legs
mere muscle, bone, and sinew
can conquer that vastness….
not all of them will make it.
many will fall to the heat
and the unfathomable distance.
pain and fatigue will break down their resolve
and the meat wagon,
merely a phone call away
will end their quest.
but many more will find what they came to find.
not just the heat, the hills, and the unfathomable distance
not just the pain and fatigue…
they will find that something extra
that is there in all of us.
that something special
that gives them the will to persevere
and achieve the impossible.
that something that you cannot know is there
until you are forced to call on it.
these are the vol staters
they will arrive at the rock with tears of joy
and walk away with an extra confidence in their (limping) stride
and a different gleam in their eye.
they were tested to the very core of their soul.
and proved equal to the challenge.
their journey begins tomorrow.
vaya con dios vol staters