Run Softly and Carry A Big SchickStick

2013 Last Annual Vol State Run Race Report

Guest post by King Joseph I
(King of the Road Reign Circa 2013)

Date: August 14, 2011 (Two years prior to 2013 The Last Annual Vol State Run)

Place: FaceBook

Message content from Joe Fejes to DeWayne Satterfield:

Joe: DeWayne I have enjoyed running with you the past year and seeing you at Laurel Valley.  I keep aspiring to run a race at your caliber.  Thought I had a chance at Black Warrior and Strolling Jim but you keep whuppin me by 15 minutes or so! I will keep hoping and trying to getcha! Best wishes in the future.

DeWayne: Joe, you were just behind me at Laurel Valley. Wish I had known we could have strolled up to the finish together.  Keep pushing brother…you will be whippin soon no doubt. Hope all is well.

Joe: Thanks for the kind words-hey I was curious—what other races would you put on your bucket list in addition to Laurel Valley and the Jim?

DeWayne: Well you probably don’t want to hear this but Barkley, and Vol State, but this one takes a special kind of nut to do—314 miles of hot Tennessee roads in July (I’ve done it 4 times so obviously I am that kind of nut!).

“So Let It Be Written, Let It Be Done.”

Although these words weren’t uttered by a Pharaoh or Yul Brynner in the Ten Commandments the message was from an even higher power as far as Ultrarunners are concerned. The mandate came from the Great King DeWayne Satterfield, the Master of the Last Annual Vol State Run and course record holder of 3 days 17 hours.

However  instead of Charlton Heston as Moses as the deliverer of slaves, I, Joe Fejes, would be leading the flock of 50 or so  unaided a/k/a “Screwed” runners to the finish of the 314 mile trek to the finish at Castle Rock in Georgia. Our exodus would cover five states, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Additionally instead of taking place near the powerful Nile river, the beginning of the Last Annual Vol State Race starts at Dorena Landing, Missouri with a short ferry ride across the mighty Mississippi river by ferry from Missouri to Hickman Kentucky and then across the Vol State of Tennessee.

My crew consisted of two ultra running gurus: Richard Schick and Bill Schultz. Rich had run the Last Annual Vol State run in the early 80’s when the course ran a shorter North to South loop and had also run Trans Virginia as well as more than 300 ultra events. Bill had completed the Trans USA run in 1990 and many multiday events. Originally the plan was for Rich to crew me the entire route but Bill was kind enough to volunteer to help Rich a few days before the race. Bill’s assistance made a huge difference. It would have been extremely difficult for Rich to handle all the duties alone for the entire three days. Doug Cassiday, an experienced local 100 mile runner who convinced me to run ultra events also agreed to help Rich crew for a day.

Going into the race I was gunning for DeWayne’s course record of 3 days and 17 hours. Laz had issued a press release labeling me as “the favorite”. Running as a favorite in a race has always been is a KISS OF DEATH for me as I almost always run much better as an underdog with no pressure. I believe Laz intentionally made the announcement fully aware of my trepidation.

Mentally I wasn’t too worried about the 314 mile distance. Not to be smug or arrogant but I had run 280 and 329 miles respectively in my two 3 day efforts at Across the Years. I was however fully well aware that my ATY mileage was accomplished on a flat, 1 mile loop manicured track with bountiful of aid stations, medical tents and other niceties. Vol State would be run on busy highways, backass hilly Tennessee roads, up and over steep mountaintops, vicious dogs, heat, humidity and rednecks. Much different race conditions so my past results were not really a great predictor of my upcoming Vol State run.

Race Strategy

My pre race game plan was to simply run the race steady with my primary goal of staying out on course rather than taking breaks or sleeping too much.  I felt confident that my ATY and 24 hour experiences would allow me to have a shot at the CR if I took care of the basics.  Rich had instructed me before the race to simply focus on running and let the crew worry about all of the intangibles such as directions, nutrition, cooling and rest.

Pre Race Training/Fitness Condition

My training had not been hardcore prior to Vol State. I had neglected speed sessions on the track, had gained 6 or 7 pounds, had not been hittin the weights at the gym and had also taken a week off cold turkey a few weeks prior on our family vacation. Nevertheless I was still in good condition coming off my recent 3:02 marathon in Rochester MN. I also thought a day of solid running would get me in condition for the remainder of the race.

Pre Race Mileage goals

Based on my 132 and 141 miles at ATY I thought 120 miles Day 1 was a realistic benchmark.

Nutrition

History has shown that I always have issues during the first 12-16 hours of a 24 hour or multiday event but thought I had dialed in my nutritional needs by concentrating on mainly liquid calories: Gatorade, coke, boost, water, chicken soup, fresh fruit chunks, etc.

Clothing

I thought I would simply wear my favorite lightweight wife beater Hanes tank top which wouldn’t get heavy with sweat. I put sunscreen on my arms and shoulders to protect against sunburn. [What a disaster this turned out to be]! I also brought along some lightweight arm sleeves after reading Nick Coury’s article on how he beat the heat in a recent race. Rich let me borrow his Miracool hat that had crystals in the top that retain moisture—same stuff I think that is in diapers. A week prior at my in laws I actually experimented with putting a diaper on my head and soaking it down with cold water to see if it would be superior to other headgear. Problem was the damn thing weighed ten pounds weighted down! It also looked quite stupid. Pampers be damned. For shorts, I had my trusty Under Armour shorts that I bought at a goodwill a couple years ago and have run all my important races in. I never have to worry about chafing but just to be sure I applied liberal amounts of Body Glide to my armpits, ass and crotch. For shoes I had my old reliable modified Hoka Bondis that I had run hundreds of miles in without issue including the 24 hour World Championship.

Ipod

I loaded up some of my new favorite new country tunes including Boys Round Here (Blake Shelton), Blowin Smoke (Kacey Musgraves) , Pieces (Gary Allen), Done (The Band Perry), Hey Pretty Girl (Kip Moore), Wagon Wheel (Darius Rucker) among others.

Dog Protection

“Schick Stick”: Rich Schick had designed a 4 foot bamboo pole with reflector tape that I would use if attacked by any vicious dog along the route. I am embarrassed to say that when I was 5 I was bit by a German Shepherd while walking home from kindergarten in Cleveland Ohio and have been scared of dogs ever since. My wife worked at a Vet for a few years and was constantly bringing home foster dogs but I still fear dogs, big or little regardless of breed. Really wish I didn’t. I carried he ShickStick virtually the entire 314 miles and also used it as a rhythm device to help pass the time. Fortunately I only had to hit the ground a few times to scare of an aggressive blue healer and several other dogs that were semi interested in me.

My recollection of the majority of the race itself was a blur so I am going to incorporate Bill Shultz detailed observations to help add color.  The report is very lengthy but then again so was my 3 plus day Vol State adventure so enjoy…

2013 Vol State ferry ride

DAY 1-RACE START

Bill: On the ferry over to Missouri the mood all positive. Lots of picture taking and most runners were standing in small groups but a couple sat by themselves. Many people had their game faces on anticipating the start.

Once firmly in Missouri, the trucks were unloaded from the ferry and the runners and their crews filed off and started lining up at a tree about 30 feet from the river’s edge. Ray K. was busy trying o be the last off the ferry. Laz positioned himself near the tree and started fumbling with his “starter’s cigarette” around 7:30 CST. Hard to have a false start, once lit, they were off…. to get back on the ferry for the ride back to Kentucky.

Rich Schick had driven Joe to the race and I’d met him the night before at the Last Supper. We were going to crew for Joe along with Doug Cassiday who would be joining us the following day on Friday. We mapped out a plan that we would be constantly changing as the race evolved.

Our first plan was to catch Joe at the 3 mile mark and then alternate every three miles. I then reset my odometer. It was something I was going to do the next 300+ miles. Joe switched to mostly Gatorade and each stop; the wash cloth was redunked in the small cooler and was replaced with one that had been soaking.

Joe: I started out running with Sal Coll and also Sue Scholl who was running on a relay team. Sue and I ran the first few hours together pretty fast—8:15-8:40 pace which I knew was a little fast but I also knew was a hell of a lot slower than the 7:40-8:00 clip that I had run with Jon Olsen at the beginning of the 24 World Championship. After about 3 hours I backed off and settled into what felt like a 9:00 or slightly slower pace. My legs and breathing felt good although my arms and shoulders were feeling the effects of the 90+ degree heat and full exposure. My wife beater tank top was clearly not the ideal choice of clothing for Vol State. I should have taken Ed Ettinghausen’s advice and bought the damn Columbia Freeze shirt or other appropriate heat gear!


Bill: Somewhere around the 3 hour mark, the every three mile plan was tossed due to the heat. We now started the every two mile plan. The heat was getting pretty intense and there were damn few clouds. Rich’s van had a temp reading in the mid 90s. Rich and I both tried to make sure that we were stopping in areas that were shaded.

Joe: I was drinking plenty of Gatorade and water however it didn’t feel like the fluid was processing or circulating. I started getting the “sloshing” bloated feeling in my belly. Bill was yelling at me that I needed to eat but I just wasn’t hungry (as is usually the case Day 1 in all of my ultras!). To appease Bill I had a few pieces of watermelon. I also took some pepto bismol to help calm the stomach.

Bill: We were getting lots of online “chatter”. Carl and Laz had listed the 21 mile split a little after 2:00. Joe’s split was 3:09 for basically an 8:30 pace average…which I was concerned as being WAY too fast. Following that time was a Relay team (3:23), Alan Abbs (4:04), another relay team (4:05) and Joshua Holmes and Sung Ho Choi (4:06).

By 3:30, Joe was having stomach issues. I felt the heat and the pace was having an effect.

Joe: About 6 hours in while running through Dresden my stomach was still bloated, I felt a piece of grass or particle lodged in my throat and began coughing. Next thing I know I vomited. Vomited again and again. I sat down and then walked a few minutes—then vomited again. Lips numb, headache and weak feeling. I made it to Rich and told him I was yacking. He and I were both thinking the same thing—the record ain’t happening. Shit. I was able to run a few more hours and then yacked again. The pepto bismol and little bit of watermelon I was able to eat came up in a funky looking mauve color. I didn’t panic but was worried. I continued to shuffle and the vomiting turned into dry heaves until late in the evening when it became cooler. The whole day it just seemed like my stomach wasn’t processing the fluid at all. It just sat there.

Bill: Our “routine” was established in this stretch. See Joe coming. Hop out with the small cooler. Leave it by the car. Approach Joe as he was coming in offering Gatorade, water or Coke. Take the pole, wash cloth, and hat as he neared the car. Dunk the hat and wash cloth give him a fresh cloth to wipe himself down in the front seat. Stand pole against car, exchange wash cloth again.

Joe: I was pissed at myself for having to sit down in the car to get “cool”. I knew it was costing time and miles but I was also stressing over my nausea. I simply didn’t want to overheat so early in the race and thought a conservative approach was best at the time.

Bill: Somewhere near 6:30 (Rt. 124 & 79), Joe told me he was going to walk awhile. Seems he had been throwing up again. We also heard from Mike Melton. He was coming up to help out. Mike owns a “race timing business” and is regarded as one of the best in the country. I am hoping to get an introduction and possibly utilize his services for timing our Dawn to Dusk race next year. Importantly Joe considered him a close friend. Mike has offered his room (near I40 around 90 miles) for us later. The thought is we can take a break, get a shower, and soak up some AC.

Joe running Vol State 2013

Day 1 PM Shift

Joe: At 8:00 pm I realized I had completed 60 miles during my first 12 hours. I wanted to end up day 1 with at least 107 miles which would give me a shot at an even paced three day finish so that meant I needed 47 miles during the Day 1 PM 12 hour pm shift. I quickly calculated how long I thought it would take to do 47 miles using my historical 41 mile Strolling Jim performance as the basis for my calculation:

-41 mile Strolling Jim time = 6 hours

+ 1 hour for having already run 12 hours,

+2 hours for current vomiting,

+2 hours for an additional 6 miles to get me from 41 to 47 miles.

+1 hour for rest at Mike’s hotel =

Total 12 hours. Ok we got a plan. Let’s go!

Bill: Knowing a break was forthcoming; Joe sharpened his focus and decided to just grab quick drinks for back to back miles before slowing on the third mile for a sit down. He was sounding very good-determined to get to the motel. Just after 12:30 AM, the relay team of Claude Hicks and Cheryl Lager caught up to us. As Claude came buy, Joe fell in right behind him. I smiled; he finally had somebody right where he wanted him, directly in front!

Joe: It was a sight for sore eyes to meet Claude and Cheryl who were running as a relay. It really helped me for an hour or two to be able to run with others. That is my spice and it was great. Arriving at Mike’s hotel I took a quick cold shower, changed socks and rested on the bed for about twenty minutes letting my body temp cool down. It really helped. I was quickly able to knock out 13 miles by the time Bill caught up to us a few hours later. I was able to drink a little V8 which helped but also gave me awful acid reflux. Just before 6:00 am I was able to eat some salad with Thousand Island dressing and a little bit of ham. Most importantly I began peeing freely. It was the best feeling in the world as I knew my vomiting and dry heaving were over as fluids were not circulating.

Bill: Just before 6:00 am Rich had a reading that we were at 100 miles. When taking a short break in my car, Joe would jump in while I’m dunking the cold wash cloth, and turn the AC on high-even with the overnight temperature in the low 60’s.

Bill: Discussions with Rich and Joe had started as to when we we’re going to take a full 3-4 hour break for the day. With the temperature being what it is, it seems the longer Joe can go, the better off we will be. If it’s going to finally get into the upper 80’s, then getting off the road will be better as late as possible. It was agreed that sometime after noon would be the best option, getting us out of the hottest part of the day—even if it meant Joe would have been without sleep for 30 hours.

Day 2

Bill: Beginning Day 2, we turned in Joe’s total of 107 miles and we kept on rolling. He started wearing arm sleeves soaked in ice water each stop. Joe uttered that the “arm sleeves felt almost as good as sex.” We knew Joe’s humor had returned and mentally he was ready to tackle Day 2. The positives were:

1. He knew he was back in the game for the CR
2. Weather felt pretty good
3. The arm sleeves helped
4. Eating help-a lot!

Of those 4 things, I felt the fact that he was getting an appetite and able to hold down to be the most important-even if it was only ham.

Bill: As Day 2 started and we left Parsons the hills became bigger and just rolled for miles along a busy highway with little shoulder. Joe remarked, “Laz has a sick sense of humor to have this section in the course!”

Somewhere around 10:00 AM we had a surprise visit from Carl and Laz. That caused a short break with Joe, Rich and I. What followed was a lot of BS and laughter. Laz led off with, “there are 5 guys right behind Joe, and follow up with “he’s got it easy now”. Anyway notwithstanding the “puffing” we were all happy to see them!

Joe getting cool, day 2, at the 2013 last annual vol state

Approaching Linden, Joe was hungry and requested: 1. Ham, 2. Avocados and 3. Ginger Ale. I headed into town and found a local Giant grocery store that filled our order nicely.

Joe: I remember craving Avocados. Not sure why since I rarely eat them but something told me it would be easy on the stomach and contain some fat or other shit that would make me feel better. Kind of crazy the foodstuff you come up with during an ultra but if you’re an ultra runner you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

Bill: At this point, Joe was near 125 miles and the road leading in and out of town had big rolling hills. By 12:20 (28:40 race time elapsed), we had about 8 miles to get to 135 and take a break. It was really starting to heat up, and there was only the slightest hint of a breeze. Rich’s van had GPS and he was able to locate a motel and book a room. At this point Joe was focusing on 1 mile intervals just trying to get to 135.

At 2:22 pm we arrived at the hotel and after showers, Rich took care of a couple small blisters on Joe’s feet. We cranked up the AC and Joe worked on a salad, an avocado and a ginger ale before crashing. After a four hour nap, Joe headed back out to resume the race.

Joe: The break on Day 2 was really needed though I still shudder at 4 hours. We wasted 40 minutes getting to and from my stopping spot. “Real sleep” was limited to 2 hours. In hindsight I probably could have/should have laid a mat down in a shaded area and taken care of business. I knew that with my low mileage during the 12 hour day portion that I had to make up miles at night.

Bill: The plan, start slow and get into it as the sun goes down 1.5 miles at a time. Joe came in to the first stop, barely paused for a drink, and was gone. If he could get 50 miles overnight by the 48 hour check in, he would be over 180. More would be ideal…being under control would be essential!

We hear from Joe’s friend Doug who confirmed he was on the way to help crew. By 7:45, it’s hard slowing Joe down. He’s taking drinks, peeing a lot, and on the move. With that pace, he was over 6 miles the 1st hour after the break and we were past the hotel we stayed in. By 8:20, it was time for his night gear. Rich and I planned on how best to bring Doug into the crewing rotation. Rich headed out for more ice before the stores closed. With the night gear a different kind of quiet settled in compared to the afternoon heat. Country radio is actually playing, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles…hard to argue right now.

Doug joined us. Rich headed for the motel and I worked with Doug for a couple of hours getting the routine down. A couple of hours later, and it was my time to head to the motel for a little sleep.

Eventually, I was up and back out a little after 2:00 AM. I caught up with them at Columbia (176 miles). Joe got into my car for a 20 minute nap. As had become his “routine” in the car, the AC was on high and Joe was using a blanket. He often used the two I had but wanted no part of NOT having the AC on high!

Joe: From 6:45 pm until 2:00 pm I ran my ass off. I was very satisfied with my 7 hours of solid running and knew that a break was in order. The 20 minute nap in Bill’s car rejuvenated my soul. In hindsight instead of trying to sleep in a car I probably should have simply laid on a mat outside even without the AC. It is very difficult to get comfortable in a car—your legs cramp and body hurts. The crazy thing is you are sweating from running but you get “chilled” one you start cooling down. That is the reason for the blankets. I was actually shivering when I awoke but knew it would pay dividends once I began moving again. Starting running again is incredible—about a 5 minute process. I would waddle like a duck flailing my arms walking tiny steps until it improved into a regular walk, I then shifted gears into a walk/shuffle followed by a slow shuffle. Craziest feeling—I’m sure I looked ridiculous but that is what it took to getting the old bones moving forward again.

As the 48 hour check in was being taken care of, Rich found a deli that had opened at 5:30 am and we were able to get some breakfast-hot biscuits. Joe’s total after 48 hour’s was 196 miles!

Joe: I ran 58 miles during Day 2 PM shift which is really what I needed to get back on track. It made up for my subpar performance during the day along with my 4 hour nap. Joy to the world…angels are singing peace and happiness.

Day 3

Bill: After breakfast it was back to work. It was easy to see that Joe thrived on the cooler temperatures at night and our plan for getting off the road during the hottest part of the day was working. If the weather held, Joe should be able once again to get past noon—the further the better!

Sometime after 9:30, Rich started looking for motels in the area. Shelbyville was the destination we were thinking about and focused on that. By 10:00, Rich had found and booked a room at “America’s Best Value Inn.” We send Doug ahead to get some much needed sleep. As it was, the motel was about 224 miles-inside 100 miles to go!

The weather didn’t seem as bad as yesterday. Then we hoped to stay till at least noon. Today, we planned on staying out till at least 1:00 PM. At least the crew felt that way! When I told Joe the plan, all he said was, “I’ll get us to Shelbyville. That’ll be inside 100! He was so sure of himself and there was no doubt, that where we were going.

A little before 1:00, I saw Joe coming up the road toward me. It was the 1st time he looked like he needed a break. I met him before he got to the car, and simply said “Get in the car,” His response, “Where are we, what mile?” He dropped the pole, his hat, the wash cloth and got in. Once inside, I draped a larger iced towel over his back. Second day, I’m feeling it a little bit. With that, he looked at the clock (12:50) and said “2:00 will be pretty good-I need 1:10”.

Joe: This might have been the lowest point of the race for me other than barfing. I was really struggling in the heat to get decent miles especially after my big miles the prior evening. I knew that a “rest” was needed if I wanted to make ground Day 2 in the pm shift. The carrot of only having to run for an hour to get to the hotel was an easy sell.

Bill: At 2:00 Joe was a mile past Shelbyville which made it a quick trip to the hotel. Doug and I went for dinner. Joe showered and Rich reorganized his van. Joe wanted steak and mashed potatoes with gravy which we were able to find at a Ruby Tuesday. I went with steamed veggies while Rich and Doug had KFC fried chicken. AC, food, drink…we all felt better. Doug went for a run while we slept.

By 6:00, Joe had called Doug to come get him so he could get back while out on the road. That let Rich and I sleep a little longer. Doug would crew while we slept as he would head back home later.

Day 3 PM Night Shift

Joe at night

Joe: I probably had little less than two hours sleep during our four hour break. Once again I might have been better off simply resting on the side of the road for an hour rather than taking significant time. In any event I was mentally ready to reclaim the ground lost during the day. At the PM report I was at: miles and knew I needed another big night if I wanted to break the record.

Bill: After 9:00 pm, Rich and I were back on the course. By the time we caught Doug and Joe, they were past Wartrace over 240 miles. There had been thunder and lightning in the distance, but over head we had stars. The temperature didn’t feel as low as the past two nights but it felt comfortable.

A little after 10:00 pm, Doug headed home and Joe got in the car for a quick nap. Before his nap, Joe finished off some of the KFC chicken nuggets that were left over. The 60 hour results showed Joe had covered 230 miles.

Joe: The 60 hour results were disappointing. I had only covered 34 miles during the am 12 hour period. Once again I would need a big pm push to have a chance at the record. I hoped that the rest I had at the motel and the fact my systems were functioning fine would be enough. The good news was I had little if any stiffness in my knees or joints like I sometimes get after a tough 24 hour run.

Going through Manchester I updated Joe on Laz’s comment that Joe might hit 300 miles for the day and was probably due at Castle Rock “in the am”. Joe was not happy- he exclaimed, WTF is Laz thinking? He’s killing me! Instead of getting an Attaboy I’m pressured to pick up the pace even more—Damn.”

Now 12:45 am Rich calculated that we only had 100k left. We feel that unless something goes wrong, we are looking to finish at mid afternoon today. As Joe left me right before 1:00, he was still very focused on the task at hand.

At 4:00 am Joe’s just rolling along. He’s so in tune to the task at hand-he was sweating pretty heavy, pointing out that it was warmer tonight. Checking my weather app, it showed 72 in Coffee, TN.

At 4:45 AM we are sitting at the base, leading to the town of Monteagle. Mike Melton had told me this was a tough hill, but that it would end! Joe decided to take a break before starting up. Rich was able to put down a mattress and Joe slept for about 20 minutes.

Joe sleeps during vol state
Joe: I felt pretty miserable at this point. I was probably the sleepiest I had been the entire run and knew I needed to rest before going up a mountain. The 20 minute nap helped significantly but I was still battling sleep while I trudged up Monteagle. I was so ready to see daybreak!!

Bill: As Joe began his ascent up Monteagle it began to rain and get cooler. As Joe came walking up, the rain stopped and he took his windbreaker off. I gave him some Coke; Joe replied “I take no joy walking up this f’in mountain!” He tied the windbreaker around his waist, gave me his hat, and headed on.

Joe: I remember Rich gave me a bag of big M & M peanuts that I munched on walking up Monteagle. I hoped the M&M’s would at least give me a little sugar surge once I reached the top. I wasn’t happy at the time but I remember telling Bill— “at least we have no more night time”. It was a big relief though I had really enjoyed the cooler nights compared to the hot days.

Bill: It was almost 6:30 AM as we headed out of Monteagle and down the mountain. That meant one hour till we called in his mileage. At that, Joe went to work! He wanted to reach 50 miles for the 12 hour night shift and to get it; he’d have to cover 6 miles. As it turns out, Joe made it look pretty easy with about two minutes to spare!

Joe: Probably my fastest and best hour of running the entire race! To remember how poor I felt only an hour before at the base of Monteagle is just mind-boggling. I’m not sure if it was walking up Monteagle or eating the M & M’s but it felt like I flew for the next 60 minutes. Legs, feet and breathing all felt terrific. I was super pleased to end up with 280 miles to close out Day 3.

Bill: For the next few hours Joe just shuffled along a little haggard after his push to close out day 3. A little after noon I pulled into “Long’s Grocery Store.” It had hand dipped ice cream and I thought it was the ideal place for us to take a short break. I told the owner what was happening and he was able to give me some info on the area. Rich pulled in and joined us as we waited for Joe. When he pulled up, Rich got his chair out of the van and set it up for Joe under the overhang. With that, we had ice cream! Joe was more than happy with a cup of vanilla, Rich went for strawberry and vanilla, and I went for butter almond & chocolate! The highlight came when I went to pay for it and the owner said, “On me, for what he’s doing, my contribution to his race and effort! We all made sure we thanked him before we took off again.

Joe with Rich Schick, crewmaster, at Vol State

In sight of the Blue Bridge and about 14 miles from Castle Rock, Joe is taking a 30 minute nap on the shoulder of an off ramp. I called Laz and let him know where we were. We know we still have a couple of hours, but the barn door is open and we are starting to smell the hay. I’m sitting in the car with Joe, he’s out. Shoes off, shirt off, AC on high, and he’s trying not to cramp. Looking in the mirror I see flashing blue lights behind me. I grabbed the clip board and met the cop at the back of the car and went through my routine. It’s a race, started last Thursday; we are going to finish in another 13 miles…blah, blah, blah. He was REALLY impressed! He fell back on his hood astonished at what Joe had done so far. He even went on to say how they were supposed to run at least an hour a day for the Department. As he was leaving, he told me that if we needed anything, we should get in touch, he’d be happy to help.

Joe: Damn that homemade ice cream was good! Only thing is I am lactate intolerant and had some horrendous gas the next few hours. The cold calories were still well worth my discomfort. I also remember being drained from running hard for the prior 6 hours. I knew I needed another short nap to make a strong final push over the final 14 miles.

Bill: By 2:00, Joe was out of the car and headed toward the bridge. Rich called to say he was coming in the other direction…and he had people with him. Turned out it was Joe’s in-laws and DeWayne Satterfield. DeWayne is the Course Record holder whose record Joe is attempting to break. In a real show of class, he was coming to help cheer him in! I stopped on the bridge, and after meeting everybody, tried to get some pics of DeWayne greeting Joe! Very cool! A couple hugs all around and back to work.

Joe: Absolutely the pinnacle of my race! To see DeWayne at the Blue Bridge along with my in laws was a total shock and very inspiring. I thanked DeWayne for taking the time out of his weekend to come out to watch me finish Vol State. I picked up my pace with the objective of finishing the next 14 miles as quick as possible. I just wanted to get it done.

Rich crewed the next couple of stops and I headed for the last major turn. When I got there, Laz was standing there with DeWayne. They gave me some last instructions and headed for the finish. I was told to tell Joe that in the 4 times DeWayne had VolState, he’s always taken great pride in running up Sand Mountain.

Joe: My legs were trashed heading up Sand Mountain. I had run the past eleven miles at a fast pace and was paying the price. I had no idea how DeWayne had run up the damn thing in his 4 finishes. I attempt to slowly run up to match DeWayne’s tradition but simply was reduced to a walk a quarter ways up!

Bill: When Joe got to the turn, I shared DeWayne’s “tradition” with him. He smiled, made the turn and headed up. As I watched him head up, I had a quick flashback to me entering Atlantic City at the end of my Transcon. I wanted the last mile for myself. I meant to do the same for Joe—give him the last mile. All I could do was think about my finish, and with that, I said the prayer that had carried me across the country:

May the sun forever shine upon his face,

May the wind forever blow upon his back,

May his goals forever be in sight,

May his beliefs forever give him strength

And may his Spirit forever run free!

With that, I headed for the Rock to watch Joe finish.

Joe: Running to the finish at Castle Rock was surreal. I felt like Alice in Wonderland that fell down the rabbit hole into a strange and bewildering land. There were pristine white gates along a private estate with soy and corn fields on both sides. I actually thought I was lost and trespassing on someone’s property! I breathed a huge sigh of relief once I saw the vehicles parked towards the far end of the property. I saw a sign with an arrow pointing down the trail and took off running. Rich Schick was about 100 yards behind me because he wanted to see the finish area as well. I about lost in my footing crossing a huge mud puddle that was blocking the trail. Finally I reached the “Rock” where Laz, DeWayne, and Bill were standing. I followed Laz’s instructions and got on all fours to touch the Rock. Joe don’t like heights so there wasn’t a damn chance I was going to glance over the 200ft drop below!!!

Joe Fejes finishes Vol State in record time

Vol State isn’t about winning prize money or even a fancy belt buckles rather it is about the self satisfaction you gain  knowing you were able to run 314 miles across the great state of Tennessee with a bunch of other special nuts!  Oh yeah and also earning the priceless designation of King Joseph I “King of the Road” for the next 12 months!

Joe couldn't have done it without his Vol State crew

 

 

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Comments

well done Joe, I may have to come try that run Hope to be in AZ running with you this year

Thanks Ed! Hey, I need a good Jester for my court ya know any?@ You the man for grand endeavors–I’m just a beginner!
Brian, I can’t wait to hear your full scoop of your adventure–I think your experience will be fascinating! Congrats again!

Wow! What a race! Congrats King Joe, and thanks for allowing us mere mortals to see what it’s like to undertake such a grand endeavor.

Great race Joe. Excellent report. On the other end of the spectrum I was the guy who finished with only 50 minutes to spare. It was an amazing experience. Kudos to you.

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