Part 1 covers the first day of the relay.
Whew! What a long couple of days! I ended up running around 26 miles of trails, gravel road and asphalt in our 12 women team journey of 200+ miles.
If you’ve never done a relay, they typically involve teams of 12 people who divide up the 36 legs into 3 legs each, with vans of six people taking six legs in a row so that the other van can have an extended rest. (There are also ultra teams of six people or teams of less than 12 who end up having to do it differently.) Van one does legs 1-6, 13-18, and 25-30 while van two does legs 7-12, 19-24 and 31-36. I was runner three in van one, but because of injuries, I ended up joining van two for their last set of legs as well and running some extra miles to help my team out.
Friday morning called for a very early wake up, our 5am start time meant arriving around 4:30am at the race start in Pink Beds outside Brevard, NC. Our first runner took off on a trail run in the dark with all the other 5am starters. I chatted with a few friends who were on ultra teams and took a tri club picture with a couple of other Asheville Triathlon Club members. It was a pretty relaxed race start, and social for being so early!
I started leg 3 under cloudy skies, rain threatening me the whole time. This 7.5 mile leg was mostly on hilly gravel road but ended with a couple flat miles on asphalt where I got to churn my legs a little bit. No one passed me on the hills, something I was pretty proud of, since I wasn’t very warmed up yet. When I passed off the slap bracelet to our next runner I was feeling good. After that I hung out in the van while our next three runners got through their legs, one of them involving a couple of pretty brutal hills. The rain that threatened my run turned out to only be sprinkles for maybe 5-10 minutes, starting a trend of fortuitous weather for the whole relay (except for some heat, which I’ll get to.)
At the exchange point for leg 6 to 7 we met up with van two and when our runner got in, took a quick group picture!
Our van then drove to the next van exchange point (between legs 12 and 13) to rest. This rest involved looking like hobos under a covered picnic area at a community center and park. We got out food for lunch, foam rollers, sleeping pads, blankets and pillows and ate some food, stretched, foam rolled, and settled down to try to nap. This is where we especially looked like hobos – I napped on a park bench 🙂
Van two arrived and with it we knew we had to get ready for our costumed portion of the relay. Our runner coming in was Little Red Riding Hood and our runner going out was Snow White and the rest of us were various animal creatures either chasing Little Red or skipping along with Snow White. I got the scary werewolf mask.
With this exchange we wished a good rest on van two and took off.
Running at night is something I don’t do enough. Going to the middle of nowhere and looking up at the starry night sky is something I don’t do enough. Run a relay and you get to do both of these and hopefully immensely enjoy them. I blazed through my sunset to nighttime 5.5 mile run at a decent 10k pace, legs not feeling very fatigued after my earlier run. While I was tired, I still felt really strong and found the first day of the relay really enjoyable!
Part 2 is to come!