Last weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in an all-night relay race and, wow, what a great experience.
Don't worry, I wasn't running. When I first heard of this race back in October, I so wanted to form a team, but being just a few weeks after Cleveland, I was afraid to commit to running a long distance. Turns out, it was a good call. I still wanted to be a part of the race, so several months ago, I volunteered to be a driver for a team of runners from a running club I belong to. Most teams consist of 6 runners, each running 17-19 miles. The team I drove for was an ultra team: three runners, each running 30+ miles. Yikes. Their team name was Gone Bananas. 30+ miles? I'd say that's pretty accurate.
|Gone Bananas at the starting line|
from right to left: Rob, Chris, Peter
The race consisted of 18 legs and the guys ran 3 legs at a time. Since there was no water support on the course, I drove to every exchange point to refill water bottles (and cheer--I did a whole lot of that) as the guys passed through. At first, the other two on the team came with me to the exchange, but later on in the night, they were exhausted and took naps in the van while I met the runner at the exchange.
All night long, I drove, cheered, refilled water or Gatorade, cheered some more, passed out baby wipes and drove again.
It. Was. Awesome. I had so much fun, I don't think I could have enjoyed the experience more even if I were running.
Now, about the race: this is the first ever Relay Around Columbus and I'm not alone when I say that I expected to run into problems or oversights at some point during the race. It usually takes a few years to work out all of the little kinks. Nope. Not this one. RAC ran smoothly from start to finish. If there were any snafus, the participants didn't see them. It was a pleasant surprise for all of us. The race director and all of the volunteers did a fantastic job.
I told the guys that I'd drive for them again next year and there is only one thing I'd do differently. RAC provided us with the names of the parks where the exchange points are as well as directions how to get there, but they didn't give us addresses. We tried to use the GPS in the van, but it didn't recognize many of the parks that we had to go to so we had to rely on the written directions. Next time, I'll have a list of addresses to plug into the GPS so I don't need one of the guys to be a co-pilot in the dark. That leaves more sleeping time for them. I should also say that RAC provided the GPS coordinates of every exchange location as well, but I didn't know how to program the GPS using them.
Well done, RAC. It was an amazing event.
To Peter, Rob and Chris, thanks for letting me join in the fun. You guys are incredible. Congratulations!
I've never run a relay race. My first will be in November, and after this, I can't wait!