It was now just after 8:15 on Friday evening and darkness had set in. Both teams had shown their cards and every runner had raced. After 71.6 miles and 6 hours and 47 minutes of racing (that’s an average of 5:41 pace per mile just to put it into perspective!), 29 seconds separated the two teams!! If the other teams’ runners saw a blur of a headlamp, blinky lights and reflective panels coming past them now it was likely a runner from one of these two protagonists!
Richard carried on where he had left off from his first leg, putting a further minute into his rival. Then it was over to John and Keith to duke it out on the longest and toughest stage of the race, the Grandfather Mountain ten miler. Rumor had it that John was going to have a crack at breaking the hour barrier on this leg, a feat rarely achieved in years past. Van 2 had the pleasure of stopping every 10 minutes or so to watch John’s relentless charge across the mountain. Road kill is the term used to describe overtaking another runner in this race. This was more like road genocide. 1 hour and 27 seconds after starting his leg John handed over to Billy. Credit where credit is due though. John’s Asheville counterpart Keith refused to buckle under his charge, himself clocking a remarkable 1:01:48.
John jumped in our van and we set off to see how Billy was doing on the shortest and fastest leg of the race, 2.4 miles downhill. As we approached him from behind we could see he was running well. He was weaving in and out of road kill, ticking them off one by one. We whooped and hollered as we passed him to pump him up even more. He clearly didn’t need much pumping as he shouted after us, a la Bruce Willis, “Yippie Ki Yay Mother F*ck*rs!!”. Not sure that was in keeping with the “Please talk in hushed voices between the hours of 7:30pm and 7:30am” rule, but we let him off as he was flying. Bearing in mind that Billy’s mile PR leading into this race was 5:09, his average pace of 4:34 for this leg was scarcely credible! Amazingly, though, CRC actually lost time on this leg as Kevin Lisska ran 10:06 for the 2.4 miles, an average pace of 4:23!!! The lead was now 2:30.
Over the next 4 legs that lead was whittled down to 46 seconds as Asheville chipped away leg by leg. At the halfway point, just over ten hours into the race, we were still no closer to discovering our victor