Last Annual Vol State Road Race Returns Thursday
BY BRAD SAM
It’s the middle of July, that time of year again for scores of tough, possibly insane runners to pass through town over the course of about two days. McKenzie is one of dozens of towns along the route of the Last Annual Vol State Road Race, which traverses 314 miles of unforgiving Tennessee terrain.
The 500-kilometer ultramarathon begins in the early hours of Thursday, July 12 in Dorena Landing, Missouri, and ends in Castle Rock, Georgia, winding through Tennessee by highway and country road. Over 30-plus years, the course has undergone several changes, and one reroute enacted several years ago brings the runners through downtown McKenzie, 56 miles into the journey.
Runners compete in two classes, crewed and uncrewed, or “screwed.” Crewed runners have a team that provides aid during the race, and the rest are at the mercy of the road and anyone they meet along the way.
For the last two years, a small group of race enthusiasts have established an aid station at the McKenzie Farmers Market and gathered resources from volunteers and local organizations.
Gary “Laz” Cantrell, the creator of the race, told The Banner in 2016, “McKenzie is a star in this race. People love coming through this beautiful little town.”
According to a press release by organizers, “the pre-race favorite has to be Course Record Holder Greg Armstrong from Lebanon, Tennessee. He’s previously run the course in just 3 days, 7 hours, 9 minutes and 49 seconds…Nearly 100 miles per day! Former Champions Juli Aistars from Palatine, Illinois and Don Winkley from Corpus Christi, Texas are also in the field again this year. Grant Maughan, from Dudley, Australia, is here to race despite having summited Mount Everest in May of this year.”
Approximately 120 will begin the race, but, as always, some will not finish.
The core members from McKenzie’s group of “road angels” (as runners lovingly refer to such volunteers) are preparing to support the runners again and hope to further improve on last year’s much-appreciated efforts, having gained tons of input from both participants and organizers each of the last two years.
Last year, the first runner passed through McKenzie at 7:45 p.m. Thursday. The rest trickled through over the hours that followed, peaking during the first half of Friday.
Aid station organizers have most of the needed supplies accounted for, but welcome others to join in their effort. Volunteers are invited to bring the following items: comfortable lawn chairs, phone chargers, Vaseline, salt, watermelon and any appropriate food. Those bringing hot or cold food will need to also provide a way to keep the items at an appropriate temperature. Outlets will be available, but limited.
For more information, visit the Last Annual Vol State Road Race page on Facebook, where you can find photos and updates, as well as other links to track the progress of the runners.
Banner File Photo