“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Relay Around Columbus Recap

My effort to show both sides of the two sided medal
Race: Relay Around Columbus
Distance:  105 mile relay
Date:  June 16-17, 2012, staggered team start.  Our Start was 3:00pm
Finish time:  19:21:44, 11:04 min/avg  (official time/pace)*
What sets this race apart:  A point-to-point 105 mile course through the park trails in Columbus Ohio.  Overnight relay.  

*I filled out our team time sheet, and I remember this number being above 20 hours. I'm wondering if the double legs weren't doubled in the official time.  Based on what each member actually averaged per mile, we should have been slower than this official pace.  But, I'll take it!  (The other option - I can't add.  LOL!)
Lucky 13's - After the Finish Line
The exciting thing is - that despite expectations - we did not finish last.  In fact, we also finished ahead of both of the other teams that started when we did. 
But we did LIVE this particular artwork.
How do you sum up a 20 hour event in one post???  This has been the hardest recap to write!  I purposely did NOT write it immediately because I hadn't slept in 36 hours and, as a result, was probably feeling more negative than I should have.  Smart call.  Each night of sleep post-event makes me feel more positive about the event as a whole.  By the end of this week, I'm sure I'll be saying that everyone needs to go do this.  HA!  Warning, this will be longer than normal recaps because there is more to cover....and I didn't want to split this into multiple posts.
Awesome RAC sign at the starting check-in.  Listed every team and it's members.
I was a little nervous about the race organization before the race.  This was the inaugural Relay Around Columbus.  You usually can expect multiple problems for a first-time event.  We also had lots of emails and driver instruction delays, etc.  When we got to the start, they weren't ready for us to check in either, but we were over an hour early. 

Despite these fears, I have to give credit where credit is due.  For the most part, this race ran EXTREMELY smoothly, especially for a first time event.  The exchange zones were well marked.  Despite the warnings about the course, the course itself was well marked, although there were a couple confusing spots.  (Some last minute team-specific changes did cause us some logistical issues because we'd arranged to have companion runners for the dark legs, but I'll talk about that later.)  The volunteers were friendly, and the extra policemen and rangers were awesome too.  Great job RAC!
The loot.  Each team member got a shirt, Balega socks, a magnet, a hat and a medal.
Each team got two amphipod belts we were required to wear, rotating them.
I got to keep one of ours.
The start was at the Hoover Dam.  There is no overnight parking allowed there, so we met at my house to all get into our home for the next 24 hours (the van).  We assembled our cooler, food, etc and decorated the van with window markers.  Interestingly, while on the course, we also lent these markers to several teams so that they could have windows as cool as ours.
Adding the necessary decor to the van
The team - before we got all sweaty and sleep deprived.
From left to right, Kristi, Laurie, Michele, Me, Keri and Amy
I was Runner 1.  This meant that I ran Legs 1, 7 and 13.  Our team was scheduled to start at 3pm on Saturday.   It was 90*F at the start.  
So surreal to start a race with only 2 other people.  Teams were staggered based on predicted pace.
Leg 1, 5 miles. 1 hour, 3 minutes.
I started too fast for a 105 mile event in the heat, and almost paid a big price.  This entire leg was full sun, no shade.  There was no water or hydration on the course because it was all paved trails.  (This means, the van dropped off runners and drove to the next exchange point).  I ran my first mile at around a 10 min/mile.  (as a comparison, I was scheduled to do 11:30 min/avg).  The second mile was around a 11 min/mile.  By mile 2.5 I was out of fluid.  Even though, I drank a 20oz Gatorade immediately before my leg, I also carried 10oz of Gatorade and 10 oz of water in my fuel belt.  Nonetheless, I was completely out.  To make it even better, I was showing classic signs of heat exhaustion.  I was nauseous.  I had chills.  To be safe, I stopped and walked as needed.  

I called my teammates to tell them - drink more, carry more, and that I was walking.  A couple of bikers passed me after mile 3, when I was walking again.  They asked if I was okay - and I answered that I was okay, just hot and out of water.  They kept going, and then turned around.  When they did, I just knew they were awesome.  I was right, one of them offered to fill one of my water bottles with her own water, while apologizing because it wasn't really cold anymore.  I wish I'd thought to get her name.  I will never forget her!   Over the rest of the run run/walk, I drank the entire additional 10oz she gave me.  Mile 4 wound up being more walking than running.  I was so frustrated with myself and felt completely lame, but it was the right decision.

I passed the baton to Keri and she was off for Leg 2.  Kristi ran leg 3, and Laurie race-walked leg 4.  
The 3rd exchange zone.
We even had fans at Exchange zone 3!
While I was running this 1st leg, the race director spoke to my team.  He told us to double up legs 8, 9 and legs 14, 15.  During leg 4, I called him for clarification.  We were skipping leg 8, and the runners of legs 8,9 were BOTH running leg 9.  Same for legs 14,15.  Each of the paired legs were the same distance.  This way, the team still runs 105 miles, but finished earlier on Sunday.  The only downside of that change was that these were all overnight legs, and we'd worked out an elaborate plan to have companion runners overnight.  (The course is point-to-point, we had to be able to have them run with us and still get back to their cars!). 

Back to the relay in progress...
Amy looking for Laurie at Exchange Zone 4
Michele killed leg 5, and Amy ran leg 6.  We were required to start wearing the reflective vests and lights starting at leg 5.   Sarah joined us starting at leg 6.  The solution we worked out to the overnight changes was that Sarah was going to ride her bike with us on all of the overnight legs except my last leg.  For that last leg, my friend Stephanie would run with me and get a ride back to her car from Sarah.  Sarah is definitely my hero.
Laurie and Sarah just before Leg 6.
In other news, just before her first leg, Michele made a startling realization. She'd left her extra sports bras at my house that morning.  This meant...she had to wear the same one for every leg - this made for some interesting van ornamentation as the night progressed....
Because every van should have a bra hanging on the side mirror....to go with the storage bag that looks like a body bag.
Leg 7, 4.6 miles, 52 minutes.
Leg 7 started at almost 10pm.  I had finally been able to pee just before this leg (for the first time since my hot first leg - shows how dehydrated I still was!).  It was dark by this point and fairly hilly.  I typically don't mind hills, but when you can't see them until the ground slants beneath your feet, they are more challenging!  The lightening bugs were making a fantastic light show in the trees though!  Nonetheless, if it weren't for the AMAZING Sarah, I would have been a crazy mess.  Running a trail through the trees when it's VERY dark can only be described as creepy!  I have never been more thankful to be bike accompanied in my life!  Headlamps just don't put off enough light to kill the creepy factor on their own!

After my leg, we drove 20+ minutes to the next exchange, where Kristi and Keri ran together.  As a result, Sarah got to take a break from the bike until leg 10.  Laurie race-walked 10, Michele ran 11, and Amy ran 12.  Then it was my turn again.
We thought a pose showing our sleepiness was appropriate before leg 12.  Time: 2:47am
Leg 13, 8.3 miles, 1 hour, 38 minutes
I started leg 13 at 3:45am.  I had still not slept even for a minute.  Stephanie was there to keep me awake and running - thank goodness!  (I was too sleep deprived to remember to take a picture of us though!)  This leg started downtown, proceeded down to the Olentangy trail, down to the Ohio State Campus, and then down through a few more parks.  It seemed like a very long 8 miles!  We got confused at one point and stopped to pull out the map and directions.  We also walked when I needed to GU.  Other than that, we plowed along.  We did see the biggest beaver ever near the river.  He couldn't care less that we went running by him at 4:30am!  A volunteer topped off my water around mile 6 - I told them I loved them!  I could actually wring water out of my shirt when I was finished.

After that leg, I was done!  WOOHOO!  The remaining exchanges proceeded like clockwork.
The last leg was at a decent hour, so Amy had company - Sue, Jennifer and LeDawn!
So may other stories to tell about this event, and one post just can't cover them all.  The one where Amy was changing in the dark and the headlights of the van were accidentally turned on....the random stops for icees....the random one-liners that were only funny if you were there...the curious looks by people driving past our van....The nastiness that was the two reflective vests and two amphipod belts that we had to rotate (can you say DRIPPING with sweat and stinky).  My favorite part, though, was talking, laughing and sharing with the other teams at the exchange zones!!!

The race had each team run in with the anchor runner for the last 50 yards or so.  It was pretty cool to finish the race as a team.  Amy's kids and her husband also ran with us.  Her husband was our driver for the first half of the night.
We're almost DONE!
All in all...what a crazy experience!!!!

I will do an additional post about what I learned and what I would do differently.  For today though, let's just close with the surreal idea that we finished a 105 mile overnight relay with no injuries!  We all still even like each other!  Awesome. Just awesome.

Way to go Lucky 13's!!!


  1. GREAT JOB Lucky 13s! I'm loving reading everyone's race recaps. :)

  2. Loved this blog! I definitely want to do a race like this!

  3. Great job!! Makes me think about Seneca7 and our upcoming over night relay for Reach the Beach! I can't wait :)

  4. Congrats Lucky 13s!!! Now I need to do a relay :)

  5. Fun stuff!!! Feeling very lucky to have been part of your adventure!

  6. Congrats! It's just awe-inspiring!

  7. Very nice summary! I was too sleep deprived to write too but I will when I get home! We had fun and that's all that matters!

  8. Congrats to all of you! I learned just less than 2 weeks ago how tough relays can be. Especially hot ones!

  9. Great job!! I love relays, but you are so brave to do one with a little one like Avery at home. I didn't do a post-kids one until they were four.

  10. WOW Mandy! CONGRATS!!!!!! I love relays, but I've never done a ragnar or a 105 mile one! WOW!!!! and I love your van artwork :)

  11. This is so awesome! Great recap- and way to test your limits and push through the relay, heat and all. Like Terzah, I'm impressed you did an overnight relay so soon with Avery as young as she is... hope you're caught up on your sleep!


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