A few years ago, my running buddy Brian said, "Wouldn't it be fun to do a 200 mile relay race one day?" Well, that day(s) was September 19-20th. A team of 12, mostly from Trinity Pres, gathered many running outfits, ziploc bags, headlights, tents, towels, food and piled into two vans for the trek to Charlottesville.
I started us out at Beaver Creek at 7am on Friday with a beautiful, hilly 4 mile run with 6 other marine-looking guys and one other female. Our van surged on, with Andie (a great, last-minute sub when we lost Kelly to a foot stress fracture), Jonathan, Brian, Scott and Ben running like they were created to be runners! With the exception of Scott who just moved to Lynchburg, the rest of us are used to running the nice, flat lands of Norfolk so the hills were an interesting change!
Van 1 passed the proverbial baton (in our case, a 1980's slap bracelet) to Van 2 around noon. Steve, Hal, Jenny, Will, Diane and Amy made good progress for us, with most of their legs actually taking us east towards our destination! They got the short-end of the stick with some really hot runs but they did awesome. We tried to camp out and take a nap while they were running but many local dogs (a theme for this race) managed to keep us awake. But, who can sleep at noon anyways? Amy had a little scare with loose dogs but thankfully she was ok and finished strong. 5:00pm brought about our second time to run and I took the bracelet from Amy and set off down the road for a fast 8.8 miler. Our van of runners kept up a nice clip and stayed motivated as we cheered each other on, took stretch breaks and felt the thrill of running a crazy relay race. Van 2 enjoyed some rest and a hearty Italian dinner before we passed it back to them at 10:30pm.
As if it wasn't hard enough to run 13-22 miles in <24 hours, some people actually decided to wear costumes, like this banana man above. He also wore a speedo and a big heavy wig for his other legs. Another team started with 6 runners and one dropped out, leaving them with 5. 5 people to run 200 miles?!!?? Wow. They beat us by an hour :(
The most interesting part for many of us was running in the dark, through new, winding roads, with absolutely no one around. We wore vests, blinking lights in front/rear and a headlight of questionable brightness. After we got over the initial fear, it was actually quite peaceful to run in the pitch black with just the sound of your feet and your thoughts.
|The dramatic handoff of Van 1 to van 2!|
We enjoyed a little time to chat with the other van when we traded the bracelet but our team was never all together until the finish line.
Inspired by the other vans, we decided to mark off all of our legs with a dot. JB and I are finished and ready to cheer on Ben (photo-bomber in the background).
It truly was a great feeling to be finished. We each logged 13-23 miles in under 24 hours! This was Ben's first race and Jonathan's second and they looked like old pros. Ben stuck-to or beat his projected pace and ran the entire thing! Jonathan was just FAST the whole time and both of them ran their longest runs ever during the race. Brian conqured the longest leg of the race, over 9 miles. Scott pushed up those hills after sustaining a grade III ankle sprain a few weeks ago. And Andie took on some extra miles and crushed it! We took a refreshing shower at a local campground, ate a huge breakfast and then toasted being finished!
Amy brought us home and the whole team, together at last, crossed the finish line together in 31 hours and 22 minutes, giving us a pace of 9:03 which was under our projected 9:15! What a great experience. Despite fears and reservations going into the race, it's unanimous that everyone is hooked and can't wait to do another one. Napa 2015?