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1K4D: Georgia Race, Day 4

Matt Cavanaugh

Georgia giveth, and Georgia taketh away. I ran into a problem today, and it’s got me more than a little worried.

But I’ll start with yesterday. The stage was about 24 miles, which meant that after yesterday I was halfway done. After today, I’m two-thirds done.

Most of Stage 3 yesterday was on an old road, possibly Roman but definitely part of the Old Silk Road. The original Silk Road ran south through Baghdad (which is about a 5-hour drive away), but wars and warring factions led to a re-route through Georgia (the United Nations now recognizes Georgia as a historical Silk Road country). 

Last night, right after I hit “send” on my dispatch, the camp was assaulted by heavy rain and big hail (the kind that breaks cars back home). It was too bad, because it was such a picturesque spot: in a mountain bowl so you had green peaks in every direction, a small stream separating us from the village, and a white-bodied stork (with black-tipped wings wider than an NBA center’s wingspan) swooping over us from time to time. When the rain came, we retreated to our tents.

So rest came early last night. Which was good because today started with a bang. Lightning, actually, several strikes that kicked off a hard, cold rain that lasted a half hour. I was running with Jeff Pelletier again and we both instantly threw on our rain jackets as we could see just how huge and freezing the raindrops would be.  

After he caught up to me at mile 5, Jeff and I stayed together through several Georgian villages, including Borzhano, where archaeological excavations have found evidence of Bronze Age settlements, weapons and working tools. Not much appears to have changed since the Bronze Age, besides mobile phones. The people in these villages are poor. Most appear to be subsistence farmers. Some look at us in our spandex and sunglasses like we would an alien landing on Main Street.

At about mile 20, Jeff pushed on as my right knee started to lock up. I sensed my IT band on my right leg was tight, which made running difficult. I walked it off a bit, but mainly jogged the last 3-4 miles into the finish.

I finished 3rd again today, and should be up on 4th by quite a ways. But the knee thing is equally expected and troubling. Expected in that you can’t run 100 miles in 4 days with a 20+-pound pack and not expect some problems. Troubling in that it’s one of my two wheels, and I don’t exactly have a spare. I went to see the medics, who gave me some Voltaren gel and told me to stretch and roll it out as best I can. I’ve done that once and will continue to do so tonight and into tomorrow AM. Honestly, I’m concerned.