You guys already know that I’m crazy, especially when it comes to running, so I’m sure you’re not too surprised that I ended up participating in a 24-hour, 189-mile relay with less than 10 hours notice, right?
It all started with a tweet from Becky on Thursday night:
It turns out that one of the runners on her relay team got injured, so they were frantically looking for someone to replace her. I’m crazy and a runner, so I immediately accepted the challenge. I really wanted to do a relay someday, so this my chance.
Thursday night was insane. There were less than 10 hours (including sleeping and driving time) before I needed to meet my team for the relay the next morning. I threw running gear into a bag, set my alarm for 4:30 AM, and immediately went to bed (to sleep off my beer buzz). I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I just hoped for the best!
What I packed: three changes of running clothes (with hot and cold temps in mind), comfy sleeping clothes (sweat pants + sweatshirt), hat, gloves, Garmin, deodorant, sunblock, Wet Wipes, a blanket, flip flops, camera, and a few snacks. The team hooked me up with everything else I needed (water, Gatorade, bananas, bagels, copious amounts of trail mix and peanut butter-filled pretzels, etc.) and we stopped for lunch and iced coffees during the race.
At 6:00 AM on Friday morning, I met the Kenya JV team at Borderland State Park in Easton to begin the 189-mile relay to Truro.
To prepare for the our adventure, we packed and decorated the vans.
The Relay Start
Once everything was ready with our vans, we walked over to the official start of the race.
The first runner on each team kicked off the relay! (There were only a small number of runners due to a rolling start, which helped prevent chaos at the first few exchanges.)
How It Works
Each relay team consists of a maximum of 12 teammates. Each teammate runs three inconsecutive legs varying in length and difficulty. Each leg of the Cape Relay ranges from 1.8 miles to 10.3 miles; this equates to each teammate running an average of just less than 17 miles. (You can also put together an “ultra” team. This consists of 6 runners, which on average will run just shy 34 miles each throughout the course.)
Vehicle 1 (V1) starts off the relay with runner #1. V1 drives ahead of the runner to cheer them on and give them any food or water they have brought along for the ride. After that runner makes it to the first exchange area, they will hand off the “baton” to the second runner in V1. This pattern repeats itself until you make it six legs of the course to exchange #6, where Vehicle #2 (V2) picks up for the next 6 legs of the relay. (This is the time to get something good to eat or get some sleep.) This exchange between runners and the two team vehicles repeats 6 times until all 36 legs are completed.
The running order in Van #1:
We kept this same running order for the entire 189 miles, so we knew exactly when we were supposed to run, which gave us plenty of time to prepare. It also made keeping track of our legs much easier. I ran legs 5, 17, and 29. (There were a total of 36 legs in the race.)
Leg One started promptly at 7:00 AM with Christine leading the pack. Meanwhile, the rest of us drove in the van to meet her at the first exchange.
Speedy Lauren was up next!
She flew through her leg and passed the baton (aka a blue iridescent Snap Bracelet) to Evan.
After Evan, Esa ran next.
Christine, Lauren, and Evan sped through their legs, so when we arrived at the exchange for Esa’s leg, we noticed it wasn’t quite ready for us. There were no signs, the porta-potties were locked, and the volunteers were just arriving.
Thankfully, everyone worked quickly to get things together and Esa took off on her leg.
By 10:00, it was my turn to run my Leg 5, which was 4.7 miles. The weather and route were beautiful and perfect for running. The route had a nice country feel to it— wide open spaces and long stretches of road through residential neighborhoods. I loved it and felt great. I finished in 39:06 (8:22 pace).
At this point, my team knew something was wrong. (I was running at the time, so I had no clue what was happening.) My teammates in Van 1 contacted Van 2, who were waiting for us at the first major exchange area. They spoke with race officials and received some interesting info:
When Van 1 arrives at the exchange area, the first runner from Van 2 cannot begin running. The next runner cannot hit the road until 12:30.
Apparently, we were running too fast, which meant were ahead of schedule and the race organizers were not set up yet. So, when I finished running my first leg, my handoff to Becky was pretty anti-climatic because she wasn’t in a rush to take off. Basically, she had two hours to run 7 miles.
When Becky finished her leg, we met Van 2 at the next exchange and hung out with them until 12:30 when we made the official handoff to Van 2.
Leg 1 was done!
While Van 2 ran their legs, we spent the next seven hours hanging out in the van, eating (we grabbed lunch at Subway), and resting up for Leg 2.
Ok, this post is getting pretty long, so I’m going to cut it here and recap Legs 2 and 3 in another post. I guess I had a lot to say about this relay. It was quite an experience!
Part 2 coming soon!!!