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Laz reaches Oregon as A Race for the Ages kicks off in Tennessee

The eccentric race director Lazarus Lake has reached Oregon, the final state in his walk across America

Yesterday afternoon Lazarus Lake, the race director of the Barkley Marathons, reached Oregon, the final state on his summer-long odyssey across America on foot. If he’s able to continue to average about a marathon’s worth of mileage per day, Lake has a little more than two weeks to go before he reaches the ocean and the end of his journey. As of Monday, day 110, he had covered 2,905 miles (4,648K). Many runners have joined him for a few miles as he passes through their communities.

RELATED: Last Annual Vol State gets underway, without Laz

According to his journal, Lake is experiencing some aches and pains, most recently in his hip. He wrote, “It felt like the head of the femur broke off.” However it did not seem to keep him off the road, or from crossing into Oregon from Idaho yesterday.


Meanwhile, another Lazarus Lake ultra, A Race for the Ages (ARFTA), takes place this weekend in Manchester, Tennessee, with his wife, Sandra Cantrell, acting as race director in his absence. (Did we mention? Lake’s real name is Gary Cantrell.) All of Lake’s ultras are quirky in some way, and the genius of ARFTA is that it’s designed to give older runners an advantage–the older the runner, the bigger the advantage (septuagenarians typically dominate the results).  

The race takes place over Labour Day weekend. “Kids” age 40 or under circle a 1-mile loop in Manchester’s Fred Deadman Park (known as the Deadman Mile) as many times as possible over a span of 40 hours; runners over 40 may run for as many hours as their age in years. The race officially ends with a banquet at noon on Labour Day Monday, catered by the local Cracker Barrel.

The race site says, “For all the hundreds of miles that are logged, and the fierce battles sometimes waged for position, it is the celebration of life atmosphere that has made the ARFTA a must-do event.” Runners and their crews may camp onsite. 

Intrigued? Registration is open until tonight at midnight Central (1 a.m. Thursday EDT). Here is a link to the race’s Facebook group. 

Route 20. Photo: Google maps

RELATED: Can’t get into the Barkley? Consider another Laz Lake ultra

Lake’s progress across the country has been punctuated by his poetic and erudite observations about the landscape and its history, typed on a cellphone, such as these from Monday. 

august 27
day 110
27 miles 
total 2,905
surprise it came a big rain almost as soon as i started.
surprise peter lost his phone.
surprise we finally figured out it was in the car by calling it.
surprise the battery died before we found it.
surprise my shortcut ran into a gated road, and i had to backtrack and find another way around.
surprise peter and i got separated in the process.
surprise he figured i would find my way to the right road and we got reconnected without the help of technology 
surprise idaho treated me to a full day of nearly gale force winds.
i had to fight for every step.
surprise i injured my left hip at mile 22
surprise i held on to get 27 again.
but surprise i am still not to oregon.
dam close tho.i promise i could get a better mileage total 
if i had a day with no surprises!first i need to see how the hip does overnight.
when it happened it felt like the head of the femur broke off.
but, altho i staggered a little 
i did not go down.
i knew the best thing was to walk it off.
while i did get the limp under control 
the pain didn’t go away.
and now that i have stopped i can barely walk.i need some overnight miracle healing in my sleep.on my last day in idaho i saw fields of onions, sweet corn, and sugar beets.
how can a near desert 
where it never rains
(except during lazcon)
have so many lush fields of crops?snowmelt and canals.
Photo: Instagram

snowmelt provides a good supply of water all summer 
and the intricate canal system delivers it where and when it is needed.

the idaho system of canals is one of america’s wonders.
they are everywhere.
virtual rivers wind around high mountains.
smaller canals branch out in all directions,
finally down to running alongside fields where it can be sent down the rows….
below the fields the runoff is collected in more canals and pipes and sent on to work again.
if the field is not flat enough for row irrigation the water is sprayed from huge irrigation systems.
idaho’s farmers have been building canals since at least 1860
and they are among the worlds best at the craft.

looking at the canals, they do not seem to have nearly enough drop to generate the rapid flow that the canals have.
however, by building level canals with periodic foot high waterfalls, the natural properties of water suction it down the canals with many times the speed it would travel if the drop was distributed evenly.

Lake with ultrarunner Kaci Lickteig in Ohio in July. Photo: Instagram

every day of the week you will see the farmers busily opening and closing sluices, moving irrigation pipes and doing all the work to assure healthy crops.

i wonder if they realize they are artists?


Sent from my magic phone