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Texans Lynnor and Erika Matheney Complete 500 km Vol State Race – Interview Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the interview with the dynamic mother/daughter duo of Lynnor and Erika Matheney after recently completing (self-supported) the 500 km (OK, 314 mile) point-to-point Vol State Race.

If you haven’t read Part 1 (Q&A with Lynnor) be sure to check that out first as Lynnor describes the unique, old-school format of the event as well as a collections of experiences spread across the 8+ day adventure.

This was Erika’s first attempt at the Vol State Race and first run over 25 km. This would be an endurance challenge unlike any other for this youthful college student.

Erika enjoying a rest break under the shade from a tree.

Packed with a positive and exuberant attitude, the companionship and ultra running wisdom of her mother Lynnor, a gift of an adventure experience waited to be opened across the 314 miles.

Of special note, Erika was the youngest person to ever finish this event. Pretty cool!

So why did Erika cross the finish line 57 seconds in front of her mother? Ha, I will save that for Erika to share.

Let’s get to it!

Enjoy as Erika answers a variety of questions about the Vol State Race.


The Decision

[EB – A 500 km run within 10 days. How did you decide, yes, I want to try this?]

I crewed my mom last year when she was running and it just seemed like fun. She didn’t finish so I knew she would be coming back again to finish what she started so I just decided to tag along.

[EB – As a college student, this is not your typical experience? Did you mention it to any of your friends and what did they think of it?]

Ya, a few of my friends knew I was going to do it and a majority of them just thought I was crazy. None of my friends are runners so they couldn’t even really process how or why anyone would want to do it.

The Training

[EB – My understanding your longest race prior to this run was a 25 km trail run. Did the race distance concern you at all?]

Before this all I had done was 25k’s but my mom has been to many 50 and 100 milers so I guess I didn’t think about it too much. I knew it was a long way and I can definitely say I underestimated the distance ALOT.

[EB – Did your mother provide some guidance on training or did you do your own thing? What did a basic training week look like for you?]

My mom and I did our own thing during training cause I live in Lubbock. She did ask a few times what I was doing to train and would tell me that I wasn’t doing nearly enough and she was right looking back I should have listened.

I would only run 3-5 miles 5 days a week and I walked my dog a couple miles every morning and night. Sometimes I would swim, play tennis, or go to the rec and use the weights or the stairclimber. That was about it. I wasn’t as ready as I should have been. If it wasn’t for my youth and my mom I would have quit after the first day for sure.

The Vol State Experience

[EB – Could you share a typical day (if there is such a thing) during the race?]

Well my mom and I stuck together the entire time or we were at least able to see each other down the road. We started the first few days by getting up somewhat early and getting into our stopping point for the night around 9 or 10pm. As the days went on it started getting later and later before we would reach our stopping point.

The worst night we didn’t get in until past 2 am and didn’t wake up until 11 am so we had to start during the heat of the day.

During the day every town we hit we would fill up water, rest for however long we needed too, and get some food then keep walking. It was pretty much the same thing every day. Sometimes we would stop along at someone’s house if we ran out of water before the next town so we got to meet some very friendly people along the way.

[EB – What was it like having your mother participate in this adventure with you?]

I am so glad she was there with me or I would not of finished, partly because of her motivation during the race but mostly because before the race even started she posted on the Vol State list that I would be the first person to drop. She didn’t think I would finish so naturally I had to prove her wrong.

We stuck together the entire time. We could always see each other but when we were right next to each other it was nice cause we would just talk and talk and before we knew it we would have gone 15 miles and be in the next town.

We would always talk about how we didn’t know how people could be all alone the entire time cause if it wasn’t for each other it would have been much, much harder.

[EB – What was your typical daily nutrition? Did your nutrition/food choices change as the days progressed? Any favorite foods? Least favorite?]

I normally eat pretty healthy and a couple years ago I was vegan for over a year then I switched back to just vegetarian, but during the race I ate anything that sounded good.

My mom and I would normally NEVER eat a burger but during the race we stopped in this little local cafe and both had the fully loaded cheeseburgers and it was the best meal I had during the entire race. Ice cream and fruit was right up there with favorite foods along with anything cold really. I think I had chocolate milk with every meal of the day. I have never drank so much milk in my life.

Yes please!

Least favorites were fish and lettuce. I stopped and got a salad at some shop and ended up puking for the next mile down the road afterwards. I didn’t want to eat lettuce ever again.

[EB – Did you have any specific recovery plan for the end of each day?]

My recovery plan was sleeping. I definitely had to stop every night and sleep. Part of the reason I finished is because of my youth. No matter how badly I wanted to quit every night cause of all the aches, pains, and blisters, as long as I slept I would wake up feeling great and ready to go again. I know my mom had planned on going straight through the first night and I thought I would be able to but once it became nighttime I had to stop.

[EB – With 19 starters in the race, not a lot of bodies to spread out along the course. Was there much interaction with other runners or did it seem like a solo adventure?]

I was never alone thanks to my mom but besides her we saw a few other people.

Before entering Columbia fortunately we ran into Fred Murolo who was crewed by his son and Paul Lefelhocz again. My mom was happy about this because Columbia is not a good place to be at night and it was around 10 pm. When we got pass the town square the four of us were actually stopped by a police and told that shootings often happen on the street we were on and we need to hurry up and get back to the main road.

[EB – How did the mind and body feel after reaching the finish in Castle Rock, Georgia? Were there any unique thoughts that went through your mind?]

Everything on my entire body hurt when I got to the finish. I had blisters covering most of my feet and on the way up Sand mountain I thought I was having a heart attack my chest was in so much pain. I had been running as fast as I was physically able to the last mile or so cause I had to prove to my mom not only was I going to finish I was going to beat her (which I did by about a full minute haha).

My mind was ecstatic though. I felt so great I couldn’t believe I had actually finished. I kept telling my mom I was going to but I didn’t really believe it myself sometimes.

Erika and Lynnor at the finish!

Then after telling stories with everyone at the rock and after it actually soaked in completely that I had finished, I just got really tired and slept for the next two days only waking up to eat.

Now that it is over though I wish it wasn’t. At the time I was so happy not to have to move anymore, but now I am ready for my next ultra, maybe just a 50k though.

[EB – What are some of your most memorable experiences across the 8+ days?]

Most memorable probably were just mother-daughter moments that no one would really understand or you would have to be there moments where we were laughing so hard at the stupidest things.

We were going through really tall grass on the side of a bridge near the end of the race and I ran straight into a spiderweb which caused me to make a blood curdling scream. Of course this makes my mom scream just as loud right behind me and then when we both stop screaming we start hysterically laughing which makes my mom pee her pants. She ends up having to change pants in the middle of the road and she falls over in the midst of putting them on, so she is sitting without pants on in the middle of a road. Of course there had been no cars coming on this road until this happened and then a couple cars drive by. It was just a really funny moment I wasn’t able to stop laughing at her for the longest time.

Another kind of cool moment was when we were interviewed for a local Tennessee newspaper and my mom and I got our picture taken for the paper, a copy of it was actually sent to us by the newspaper people and by a guy who recognized our picture because we had stopped by his house and he gave us water and ice.

There were so many memorable moments along the way I could probably write a few pages just on crazy stuff that happened to us.

[EB – Were there any moments during the event where you felt like you might not be able to continue? If so, how did you get through this and continue moving forward?]

Definitely. The first night we had gone 45 miles, at the time it was by far the furthest I have ran/ walked in a single day, and my feet were on fire. It was the worst night by far and I thought I was going to quit that first night we finally got to the hotel. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to move in the morning.

It was mostly my feet, they had blisters and were so incredibly sore I have never felt pain like that before. When we finally made it to the hotel a quarter mile off the course I didn’t care about anything except soaking my feet and getting in bed. I have never fallen asleep so fast in my life. I was out cold in less than a minute.

Holy Blister!

I am happy I didn’t quit before the hotel because when I woke up I was feeling good again my spirits were raised and besides a small amount a stiffness, which passed quickly, I was good to go for another day.

Another night was the third night. I had been having lots of problems all day with my ankle and terrible restroom issues that are a little too disgusting to go into detail about. We only went about 38 miles by the time we hit the hotel on the third night but it felt incredible to stop and rest. I fell asleep without even showering that night, which I needed just as badly if not worse than sleep.

The only reason I always pushed on during the day was to prove to everyone who thought an untrained 19 year old would never finish and that I could. It really takes just as much mental willpower as it does physical endurance. [EB – wisdom nugget]

[EB – Did this experience with your mother have any affect on your relationship with her?]

Ya I am glad she was there and we got along great for the most part. We of course had our ups and downs during the race but together we helped each other out alot. We both have told each other we wouldn’t of finished without the other one, more of me telling her than vice versa.

It was a good bonding experience, we talked a bunch and shared stuff that I don’t think would of been shared in other circumstances. We had a good time with each other and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am so glad I ended up going and sticking with her the entire time.

We definitely have lots of good stories together now and for the entire week after the race and everything that happened during it is all we talked about, and we are still always laughing about crazy stuff that happened along the way.


A special thanks to Erika for sharing a glimpse of her epic experience with us!

Dogged determination, humor, and some mentor wisdom helped Erika travel a seemingly insurmountable distance from a foundation of what could be regarded as a 10 km to half marathon training program. I am not saying this is a recommended training approach for such an adventure but it does highlight a few things:

  • The power of attitude.
  • The power of supportive relationships and mentors.
  • The power of purpose.

Can you see how ultra endurance experiences can be transferable to everyday life?

This is not simply a 314 mile scamper by foot.

This becomes a subtle backdoor way to develop personal skills and mindsets that can support the creation of whatever life you wish to experience.

Play supports Life.

Life becomes Play.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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