If the concept of a 200 mile, 12-person relay isn’t something you’re familiar with, here’s a breakdown of how it goes:
2 vans, 6 runners each tackle a 200 mile journey one leg at a time. Van 1 contains runners 1-6 and Van 2 contains 7-12 and a “baton” (a Livestrong bracelet) is passed through the first van’s runners at the end of each leg. As runner 6 is running his leg, Van 1 drives to the “exchange point” where they meet with the members of Van 2 for the handoff. At that point Van 2 is “active” and Van 1 is considered “inactive” for the few hours that runners 7-12 do their thang. In the meantime Van 1 has to make their way to the next “exhange” but has time to stop and have a meal or just go to the next echange and rest up. The race goes through the night (many people I’ve told are shocked by this) and everyone does a total of 3 legs. The legs vary in length and difficulty and the vans each carry all of their own supplies including water, food, first aid, and the all important baby wipes.
Okay now that you’ve got the idea, here’s how it really works. Friday morning the 18th the team (minus 2) gathered on the sidewalk outside of the van rental center on 96th St and there was a sense of anticipation and a hint of caffiene in the air as we all prepared ourselves for the ~6hr drive up to Jeffersonville, VT. I had met nearly everyone at the GMR happy hour events leading up to the race and was vaguely familiar with the blogs of a few members. Otherwise, we were basically strangers. As we piled into the van (mixed up to increase socialization) the thing that always happens when you put 6 runners together began immediately: we talked about running. We talked about past races, goal races, crazy big dreams (RJR is working his way towards running Badwater), previous experience (or lack thereof) with relays and training buddies. It was several hours before anything non-athletic came up in conversation, but man was it refreshing to be surrounded by so many like-minded folks. I feel like I could have brought up any race in the world of any distance and gotten support and advice for it. I was supremely impressed by the speed of the runners in the van and it struck me that we might do really well as a team.
It wasn’t until our lunch stop that some real personalities began to come out. I know for myself, I’m a bit punchy (understatement of the year, perhaps?) when hungry, so once the wait for the food started to border on absurd, the jokes began…and the acrylic-nailed, Lee jeans wearing waitress/bar wench was the unfortunate (for her, not us) brunt of all of them all. RJR and I decided to split a large pizza for lunch, but when it came out, dammit, it was only a “four-cut” (a what?!?) but we were not to worry because an “eight-cut” was being put in the oven for us. Being New Yorkers, we cruelly mocked her use of the terms “four-cut” and “eight-cut” which were used in place of “large” and “personal” to describe our pizza pies. Oh well, the pizza was greasy and filled by belly without any consequences.
With the exception of one little mishap in the directions that left us on the west rather than east side of Lake Champlain and rapidly approaching
We arrived mid-afternoon at La Quinta Inn in
Next up: Saturday and some running, hilarity and heat