Georgia Race, Day 2
I’m typing this on a windy ridgeline, so windy that we can’t have a fire. Maybe that’s where I should start.
Yesterday was so wet that last night everyone tried to dry off their shoes and insoles and clothes using the campfire. It worked, to an extent, but some got a little too close. Several folks melted and warped their insoles past continued use. Oops.
Ultimately I found the attempt at drying to be almost pointless. If it succeeded, it’d be more comfortable for wear the next day (today). But one glance at the course would show a river crossing within the first mile, and 3-4 river crossings the rest of the day. So I gave up my attempt to dry my run clothes. In the end, all I accomplished was giving them a nice mesquite-smoke smell (better than what I actually smelled like, I suppose).
The decision on yesterday’s fog debacle was to give every runner a time of 1 hour for the start to checkpoint 1, and the net result was that I did, indeed, finish in 3rd place overall.
My finish was only possible due to the yells of one old Georgian farmer. We passed through a rural farming village with wild dogs everywhere. The race officials had ranged ahead of the runners to remind the locals to keep the dogs at bay. Over the course of the day, I encountered a couple dozen, mostly Anatolian sheep dog-looking varieties. But a couple were pretty bad-tempered and got really close, and that old Georgian farmer shooed them off with a couple choice words. Interestingly, Georgia’s name comes from the old Persian for “wolf” or “land of the wolves,” which at the time was the word they had for wild dogs. Go figure.
It feels very much like rural West Virginia here, and it’s the same physical size. Georgia’s population is about equivalent to Connecticut’s, with an economy less than half the amount of Vermont’s…and that lack of wealth certainly shows in these villages.
We ran through several villages today, which provided a break from long stretches across fields of mud. The problem with the villages is that the only roads are made of dirt, which means at this time of year they’re made of mud. There’s no escaping it.
I started out the day at a fast pace—mercifully, we ran on a dry rocky road for awhile—I hung back in 6th until after the first checkpoint. And then, one by one, I picked off #5, #4, and #3, until I found myself in 3rd among the same top 3 as yesterday. That’s how it finished. The stage was about 29 miles, the longest of these first 4 stages, so I’m tired. I’ve got some not-great spots all over my body, but on the whole, I’m holding up OK. (Then again, we’re only one-third the way to the finish, so still a long way to go!)
One epic failure was my uber-expensive, uber-light Thermarest air mattress. It didn’t pop, but the internal cell structure failed, and so it will no longer stay flat. It bubbles up so severely toward the head-end that I can’t use it anymore because I’d almost be sitting upright if I tried. That fail is going to take its toll over the next few days, as the ground we camp on is rough and rocky.