Home > Runs & Races

Tennessee runner wins 534K Last Annual Heart of the South road race

James Fleming finished the arduous race in a little over five days

Photo by: Carl Laniak/Facebook

Tennessee’s James Fleming has won the Last Annual Heart of the South (LAHOTS) road race, completing the 534K run in five days, three hours, 13 minutes. This year’s race, which is one of Laz Lake‘s many events, takes runners from Gaffney, S.C., to Castle Rock Ga., and participants have 10 days to make it to the finish. LAHOTS began on June 17, and Fleming won the race in half the allotted time. He finished well ahead of the rest of the field, crossing the line a couple of hours ahead of second-place finisher Curtis Barton of Texas. 

LAHOTS

Like all of Lake’s races (he is the man behind the Barkley Marathons), LAHOTS is long and tough. Before the race, participants meet near the race’s finishing site, then they get on a bus and head anywhere between 480K to 560K away. When they arrive at the race start, they’re each given maps that will lead them back to their cars. 

RELATED: Barkley Marathons end with ‘fun runs’ for Jared Campbell and Luke Nelson

At that point, the race begins, and they have 10 days to complete the return trip. There are no aid stations along the route, and runners must carry all of their own supplies. Since they run through different towns along the way, they can also stop for food, water and anything else they may need. 

The 2021 race 

For a while early on in the race, Canadian Bev Anderson-Abbs was in the lead with Fleming. Anderson-Abbs, who is from Calgary but now lives in California, won LAHOTS in 2020, and it looked like she might repeat as champion this year. Unfortunately, she had to pull out of the race after about 270K, which left Fleming alone at the front of the field. At that point, he was at about the halfway point of the run, and it was his race to lose. 

There was a lot of time left in the race for Fleming to falter and lose his lead, but he managed to hold on for the win, crossing the finish line in Georgia five days after he first set out on the course. He had a comfortable lead on Barton, who finished LAHOTS in five days, five hours, 47 minutes, about two and a half hours after Fleming. 

RELATED: Ultrarunner Katie Spotz prepares for 11 straight 50Ks in world record attempt

While the race for the win wasn’t too tight, the battle for third place could be, as North Carolina’s Matt Jenkins and Kentucky’s Jim Winn were both approaching the 500K mark at mid-afternoon on Tuesday. Assuming they don’t drop out in the next few hours, those two men will reach the finish well within the time limit. As for the other LAHOTS runners, they have just over four days left to finish their race.