Friday, June 22, 2012

Running is a Team Sport

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in an all-night relay race and, wow, what a great experience.

Relay Around Columbus (RAC) is a 105 mile relay race where runners travel all around --you guessed it-- Columbus.  Most of the running is done on the paved trails/bike paths in and around the city's metro parks.
RAC Logo

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
When I volunteered to drive, I expected to...well...drive, and that's it, but I got to do so much more than that!  I got to be the driver, cheerleader, photographer, water refiller, Gatorade holder and runner care taker.  The guys were jokingly calling me their van mom....kind of funny since I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person in the van.

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!


Have you ever participated in a relay race?  What did you think?
I've never run a relay race.  My first will be in November, and after this, I can't wait!

7 comments:

  1. Have you watched the movie "hood to coast" yet? It's great!

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    1. Haven't seen it yet, but it's on my list!

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  2. When I saw your initial posts I thought you were just cheering them on - didn't know you stayed up and drove the whole way. Wonder if we could get a turtles group to run it next year.
    Did the guys run from park to park or did they run a loop at one park and then drive to the next?

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    1. They ran from park to park. There was someone running at all times. It was so cool!
      And yes, I think the Turtles should have a team next year. This year it was the same weekend as Mohican. Many of the turtles were up there.

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  3. Jamie this being my first relay and being team captain having you was a true blessing. I am sure you could have been anyone of the guys daughter but you were the best team "Mom" ever. I am one to sweat the details and you picked right up and did a fantastic job. Thank you again would be more than happy to have you help again next year.

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    1. You are so very welcome! I had a great time taking care of you guys! :)

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