Heart of the South Road Race route brings participants through Albany

Posted June 21, 2022 at 3:02 pm


People driving in Albany last Sunday may have noticed an influx of people walking down the streets or sidewalks. Usually it would be just one person, but the thing that might have caught some’s attention was the fact these people were carrying umbrellas or backpacks while using walking sticks.

The people walking the streets of Albany and Clinton County were a part of a race that covered a distance from Frankfort, Kentucky, to Castle Rock, Georgia.

The name of the race is The Last Annual Heart of the South Road Race.

Runners/walkers assembled on Wednesday morning, June 15, parked their vehicles in a hayfield on the top of the Sand Mountain in North Georgia.

From there, participants boarded a tour bus and traveled to Frankfort to begin their journey.

The race is 327 miles and runners have basically 10 days to complete the race.

Each person is required to check in twice a day, at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in order for officials to keep up with the field of runners/walkers.

Runners walking through Albany was day four of their journey and Hwy. 127 was their route through Albany.

Naresh Kumar was making his trip through Albany around 9 a.m. Sunday morning and stopped to talk with the NEWS on his journey.

“The distance changes every year and the course changes every year. This year we started in Frankfort, Kentucky,” Kumar said. “We hopped on a bus called the ‘Meat Grinder’ and we were driven part of the course on the way up to Frankfort.”

Kumar said the night before the race begin they all sat down for a meal labled “The Last Supper.”

“The map was released Thursday morning at 8 a.m. Eastern time and we started our race from the courthouse,” Kumar said. “You have to do an average of 32.7 miles per day in order to reach the end of the race. It’s just a race and people can raise money for whatever they want to. I raise funds for human trafficking reasons. It’s pretty hardcore and puts you to the test. You can train for it and train to run 10 miles a day, but when you’re running or walking 60 miles a day, that in itself is a challenge.”

Kumar said this is his first year participating in the race which has been going on for three years ,counting this year.

“The real challenge is finding food, shelter, where you’re going to wash your clothes,” Kumar said. “Where it’s in the deep south, businesses don’t stay open, so like yesterday for example, Jamestown, Kentucky, until we got to Junction Station there wasn’t anything open. That’s about like a 24 mile stretch to walk/run and you need food and water to be carried on your back.”

Kumar said you are carrying a lot of supplies especially when the weather is hotter outside.

“You consume a lot of water when it’s hot outside,” Kumar said. “You are constantly scouting and looking to see if you can cover the distance.”

There is a website where runners can be tracked, which is www.vacationwithoutacar.com. Kumar said there is a virtual runner who is setting the pace and his name is called the “Grim Reaper.” Kumar said the key is to stay in front of the Grim Reaper and that’s how you know you will reach your destination in the amount of time given to each runner/walker.

As of Monday morning, and according to the website, Kumar was in 16th place, having traveled 184 miles and was just past Jamestown, Tennessee, which was well a head of the Grim Reaper.

“If you are in front of the Grim Reaper you are safe and you will be finishing on time,” Kumar said. “If you see anyone on the list with a tombstone marked on the map then that means they have dropped out of the race.”

Kumar said the race will really make you find out what you are made of.

“We are out here for 10 days in the most miserable conditions,” Kumar said, but “It’s really beautiful here and people are so nice. They give you space. We were invited to sit with people at Junction and listen to stories. It is a very friendly community.”

Naresh Kumar walked on the sidewalk in Albany Sunday morning on his journey to Castle Rock, Georgia in the Last Annual Heart of the South Road Race. The race lasts 10 days and covers 327 miles.