We’ve heard of Southern hospitality, but this is ridiculous. Laz Lake, race director of the Last Annual Vol State Road Race currently taking place in Tennessee, is complaining that the “angels” along the route (locals who support the racers with cold drinks, chairs, food and more) are going way beyond what is reasonable. Laz posted on Facebook today, asking them to stop:
“too much, way too much!!!!
goodies beside the road, maybe a hose, a canopy for shade, mats or cots to sleep on… this is all great…
but taking people into your home for showers, putting them in your beds, doing their laundry, cooking them meals, letting them hang out like some parasitic relative all day… this is way, way too much! those people are way beyond crewed!!!
i know the intentions are good, but there is a point where it becomes too much!”
Participants at Vol State may race “crewed” or “screwed” (uncrewed), but it’s all the same for the purpose of the results, which does not distinguish (except for the separate course records). In fact, the terms are not definitive–you can declare yourself uncrewed (which simply means you want to take the bus from the finish to the start, rather than getting there yourself) and still have a crew support you on the course. And vice versa. You can declare yourself crewed (i.e. you make your own way to the start from the finish line, a day’s drive away) and still rely only on angels for support–which turns out to be quite a lot of support, after all.
Bev Anderson-Abbs, who finished yesterday in a new uncrewed women’s course record of 4:07:17:55, says that back in 2013, when her husband Alan first ran Vol State, the angel concept hadn’t caught on yet. Now, however, things are different. “There are coolers all over the place with water, snacks, chairs set up, and I thought, this is not like what I expected. There were very few places where you really had to think about what you needed to make it to the next place where you could get water or food. For the most part you could just hop from cooler to cooler,” she told us.
But what Laz is referring to goes way beyond coolers, with some angels apparently offering up much more than water and a place to sit down and rest. One angel posted on Facebook that a racer was “taking a shower now & I’m about to do his laundry,” which is probably what led Laz to react with such vehemence.
When laz conceived of this event, did he foresee grown men walking into truck stops at 4 am wearing crop tops and spandex shorts? – a #VS500k runner
— Keith (@keithdunn) July 16, 2019
The Abbs preferred to book into motels a couple of times, where they could take a couple of hours to shower, nap and refuel without having to feel beholden to anyone. But they also took advantage of hospitality offered: “Close to the end there was a road angel station set up at a campground where they had cots and showers and all kinds of stuff, so we even showered and sat down with them and chatted a while there. Over four days we ended up with three showers, which was better than I expected.”