Bench of Despair (Paperback)
The Vol State 500k road race begins in Missouri, slants nonstop across Tennessee and ends on a mountain ledge in Georgia, touching five states altogether. Dallas Smith ran it twice, two years apart. He ran unsupported, finding his own food, water and shelter. In the second running, he was trying to become the oldest such runner to ever finish the race. What had been a routine run the first time went terribly wrong the second time. The race drove him to the brink of physical, emotional and mental collapse. Unknown at the time, a medicine prescribed by his doctor was eating his running muscles. The resulting weakness led to injuries that jeopardized his finish and threatened his health. He avoided the idea of writing about the experience for several months. When the story refused to go away, Smith relived it for this book. His gritty narrative draws the reader through the moment-by-moment reality of life on the road. The reader comes to feel that he accompanies Smith on his lonely quest. One learns the language of this singular race: terms like Rumble Strip, Bench of Despair, One Hundred Pi and The Rock represent a reality hard as slate. A measure of suffering and misery surges through these pages. But so does life-affirming joy and a rich cast of characters. Vol State is a journey few runners will ever make. You can see why in these pages. And you can enjoy it the safe way, as a reading experience.