Day 37 - Oloogah to Big Cabin - 37.9 miles

Today started under a cloud in both a real and a metaphorical sense. On leaving the motel to start the drive back to Oloogah we noticed that it had been raining in the night as well and the sky was cloudy. This would be very good news if it held up.

The bad news however was that Gemma was leaving as soon as the stage would start today to fly back to the UK and continue real life. With the long day yesterday and the drive either way, the early start today I felt like I had no time to spend with her. Time is so precious now and some days I have none of it. It’s a shame that happened on her last day.

And so the start was quite emotional, I did not listen to a word of the race briefing which could have been a disaster as there were a lot of turns and complications today. As Laure set everyone off to start I hugged Gemma goodbye as she told me she’ll be back soon and “you can do this”. A little later than everyone else I started walking the stage.

I walked perhaps the first mile, as many do but for me it was just out of reflection. I don’t think my legs wanted to run yet. I did eventually break into a jog only to find than everything seemed to hurt. I stuttered in and out of walking worried again about pains in shins and thighs and hips until the penny finally dropped “Yes this is how it has felt for every one of the last 36 days, it goes away, just fucking get on with it”.

It was quite hilly at the start and I am in no mood to run up hills so I took it easy, jogging and walking up hills. I felt a bit sick and lacking in energy but assumed that to be more mental than physical. I had a few sandwiches for breakfast made from the huge portion of meat left over from yesterdays dinner. Pulled pork and beef were really quite good. Rene and Berangere (I have certainly mis-spelled that, even phonetically) were my support crew for today. They were awesome as usually.

After 16 miles we passed the statue of Andy Payne, winner of the first Trans USA race in 1928. If you have not read the book I highly recommend “The Bunion Derby”, a brilliant account of all the runners in 1928. Route 66 had “just” been built, in fact half of it had and others were work in progress. However a showman called CC Pyle (people thought the CC stood for “Cash and Carry”) decided to organise “the greatest show on earth” and stage a footrace across the States.

199 men entered with the hope of winning the $25000 prize. Pyle did this to make money out of the towns they would pass through rather than any interest in running. The pace some of these guys ran at was astonishing, imagine the shoes they were wearing, complete lack of endurance nutrition and having to sleep in real bad conditions. Most of the runners were poor and without support, they were not provided with enough food or any medication, they could barely sleep. The black runners were threatened in some of the mid states and had to sleep separately from the white runners.

Despite that these guys were phenomenal and I wont spoil the story as to who made it and who didn’t (though I just gave the winner away) it is a great read.

In comparison to those guys I have it easy. They had the prospect of not being able to eat at the end of a stage whereas I will always have food and a bed and ice and water and all the things I need. Compared to the original Bunioneers I am J-Lo’ing it across America. I have it easy.

I had my photo taken by the statue and moved on, the sky still full of cloud and pleasantly cool. First thing this morning the temp was in the low 20Cs. I think when the sun finally broke through the cloud around mid-day it went up to about 35C. There was no need for constant icing or cold cold water though I did not pass up the opportunity to get an ice lolly (I had a mega-rocket for $1.41). That was nice.

Rene and Berangere were insisting that I ate sandwiches and ate fruit. They later revealed that they had quite detailed written instructions from Gemma as to what to give me. That made me laugh, felt like she was there, felt like I could not get away with anything even though she is on a plane.

We were back on route 66 today for the first time in weeks which felt great. I was running close to Alex again and got confused when I saw him staggering about like a drunk about 50m in front of me, then I realised that was not Alex but Mr Tanaka who has such a laboured running stagger it’s unbelievable. The last few miles were on a lovely trail which was hilly and warm but bearable. I really hope this weather holds out a little.

I finished with Alex, knocking off the 38 miles in 9.20. I felt no rush today and just let the miles float by me again.

By the end of the day both sets of clouds had lifted, it got a little warm on my walk to the gas station to find something to eat but that’s ok. Looks like it will cool down a little at least.

I have now run for nearly 400 hours. I am more than 100 hours behind Rainer, somehow I don’t think I am going to win. I will have to email Mr Fetch to ask him (again) to extend the maximum number of hours you can put for a race. I think it’s 75 now (after I asked him a few years ago because of a 60 hour race I did). I think this one will come in around 800. I will at least try to keep it under 1000 so he does not need 4 digits for the hours : )

And tomorrow I enter a new state – Missouri. I wonder if that one will try to kill me too.