Monday, July 22, 2013

The Most EPIC of Relays

11 people. 190 miles. 31 hours. 45 million feet of climbing 
Rocky Mountain Epic Relay

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I am not as happy as I look in this picture

If you have never done a long distance relay before I want you to stop reading, pull out a piece of paper, write BUCKET LIST at the top and put “RELAY” in the number one spot.

Here’s why:

  • You will be taken so far out of your comfort zone that you will stop giving a shit
  • You will not sleep, and you will feel euphoric and bitchy at the same time
  • You will see parts of place you would never otherwise see because relays tend to travel on (for the most part) remote roads
  • You will have a cup of coffee that is better than any cup of coffee you have ever had in your life, even if it is from a dumpy ass gas station (because you have been running all night, are freezing and are delirious).
  • You will become a connoisseur of porta potties (e.g “That one is mildly odiferous, but overall it is hygienic and rather cozy”)
  • You will simultaneously hate and love the other 5 people in your van – “Stop freaking kicking my damn seat you whore” – “You are a rock star! You killed that run. I love you!”

But, I think the biggest reason to do a relay is that it makes you feel ALIVE and young again (if you are still 20 years old, it will make you feel like you are a toddler). It is kind of a mix of camping, running, and being at a frat party (with much better beer than you could afford in college – hello, Fat Tire I love you).

We started at 6:30 a.m. on Friday in Canon City, Colorado (home of a total of 13 prisons and penitentiaries – lots of signs advising to not pick up hitch hikers):

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This is the same group we did the Wild West Relay with last year. We are all 40 and 50 something parents who like run, drink, laugh, play corn hole (sounds dirty), and braid each other’s hair:

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We all agreed that this was the best relay course we have ever done. It was so incredibly scenic and the bulk of it was on back country roads winding up and down the Rocky Mountains. This picture was taken on Cottonwood Pass, one of the mountains Ken, Tom and Rafe ran up in the middle of the night. Let’s just say there were a fair amount of f-bombs being thrown around as they made their kick ass ascents.

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My running legs, totaling about 17 miles, were all somewhat challenging – the second one – 8 miles - was incredibly stunning and mostly involved running down a mountain.

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I hauled ass, passed three people and took 4 dumps (Malicious Fecal Distribution x 4). Yes, you read that correctly. I had been munching on beef jerky, Clif Bars and drinking Gatorade all day, so by the time I ran again at 7 p.m. my stomach revolted a bit. Here I am at the end, still smiling and heading for the porta:

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I’m going to tell you the night time was a bit rough (that is my nice way of saying it sucked balls). Our van had finished our second legs, and Van #2 was running. We had a short amount of time to eat some cup ‘o noodles and drag our sleeping bags into the yard of church (can’t say I’ve done that before). We slept for one hour before it was time to start running again (this was about 10:30 p.m.). It was brutal.

I will say that my last run – about 7 miles – started in the pitch dark and wound around a beautiful reservoir at about 9,500 feet. It started to get light out and it was foggy and misty and incredibly quiet and peaceful (and colder than a witch’s tit). I loved every minute of it even though I was so tired I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

Here is where I ran (taken the next day, obviously):

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I was so pre-hypothermic and done by the end of that leg – I jumped into the van, snuggled under a sleeping bag and Van #2 studs brought me a cup of hot coffee made on the camp stove. Best cup of coffee of my life.

Some other great shots – one of Ken’s legs:

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Tom billy-goating down a trail:

Kate, coming up from a MASSIVE climb:

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We pulled into Crested Butte, site of the finish line and a small mountain town, at about 8:00 a.m., showered and waited for the rest of our team. I smelled and looked like crap.

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About 1:30 p.m., and after 31 hours, we were DONE!

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We placed 21 out of 40 teams. Not bad for these balding, pre-menopausal old folks.

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I just had to kiss a little ass to mark the celebration:

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It’s true that this relay did not at all fit into my Ironman Florida training schedule and it left me kind of fried, but it was worth every minute. So, bring on my highest training week EVER – 16 hours and 45 minutes – ugh, I think I need to go back to bed. 

Where’s the most scenic place you’ve ever run?

Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? Could you spend 31 hours around a bunch of people in a mini van?

Ever take the Myers Briggs Personality Test? What were you? I’m an ENFP (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perception), so a definite extrovert. But, even I like my space.

SUAR

PS: And for the LAST time. No, that was not me on the news in New Mexico.

62 comments:

  1. Relays are like none other. you should come to Iowa and do the336 mile relay. its great

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  2. I love the Epic Relay! Did you see the Christmas in July team? Those are my girls!

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    1. YES!! Saw them several times. My favorite was when big Santa was running up the hill and the whole team was at the top singing Silent Night.

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  3. WOWZER!!!! I just did Ragnar NW Passage this weekend! 196 miles of beautiful terrain: oceanic vistas and pastoral farmlands seascape neighborhoods 100% uphill! DID I MENTION RUNNING ACROSS DECEPTION PASS BRIDGE AT 3 AM????? (Narrow bridge with a bazillion feet drop!) 12 members on the team 3 legs each. OH MY GOSH! Like labor it was terrible and awesome all at the same time! Our fastest runner is 54 the slowest (me) is 54 too plus we had a postpartum mom and her breastfed baby. What a joyful experience!!!! 48 hrs later I am still on a runners high. Something I *never* feel during a run! Yay to us. I am ready to sign up again!!!!

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  4. I wholeheartedly agree that relays take you on some scenic runs. I ran the Chicago Ragnar this year (after reading about your relay last year) and it was the most fun, hardest thing I've done (outside of giving birth).

    Running along Lake Michigan (or providing van support for our runners) was definitely the most scenic route I've done.

    It was very strange joining a team where I only knew 1 person, and that she was only an acquaintance at the time. :)

    I'm an ESFJ, which sounds about right :)

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  5. Sounds SO MUCH FUN! I am running the Epic Teton one in August... one of the runners just bailed (lots of drama). Do you happen to know someone who would be interested in running it... but mostly, just wants to have fun. Finishing in Teton Village sounds like the perfect way to end a relay race... :)

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    1. We were talking about that one - how cool it would be to do the Teton run. Let me think if I have any ideas for you for a last minute sub.

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    2. Thanks!!! We are doing it as an ultra team... so they'd run roughly 13 miles as their first leg, 9ish for their second and 8ish for their third. ALL ABILITIES WELCOME (unless they're too fast and ACTUALLY wanna win... cause we may win, but we may not hehe). We're just doing it for fun. The people on our team are extremely nice and whoever comes to run is guaranteed a GREAT time. :)

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  6. Your pictures are amazing! I would LOVE to do a relay with my family! There's a trail relay in Michigan that is definitely on my bucket list!

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  7. This Epic relay sounds like so much fun! I did the one from Logan, UT to Jackson last year and it is definitely among my favorites. This weekend I also spent an ungodly amount of time in a van with 5 other people (The Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay) so I share in your exuberance and exhaustion! Relay races are definitely a different experience and something everyone should try at least once!

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  8. I am doing the Grand Teton Relay in August. It is my first relay race. The first van has all us older 30+ and the second van has the younger 30- crowd. We call them our "ringers" :) So excited to do it!

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  9. I'll be running the Flaming Foliage with Keith and Steve from your relay team. Looking forward to not being in the same van as them.

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    1. Ed, sounds so fun...I know you guys will have a BLAST. We talked about you this weekend...only good stuff.

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  10. This pretty much sums up just about all that I have to say about the course! It was great to meet you and congrats on doing so well. We finished 2 hours after you and I am sure you were way ahead of us the entire way. We finished 3rd in all women's teams (out of 3 but don't mind the data).
    Way to go Ken and others in your group for running up Cottonwood Pass. Our girls that did that one were in rough shape on Saturday but acted like it was NDB. And, yes, there is no way anything like this fits into a training schedule, but they are SO FUN and remind us all why running is so damn awesome (although I was cursing hard core on my 2 major uphill legs).

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    1. Great to meet you too! I looked for you at the finish...it was such a fun weekend and Crested Butte was the ideal place to wrap it all up.

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  11. Definitely looks like a lot of fun and a great adventure. Beautiful place to run too it seems! Congrats.

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  12. Wild West was the most fun i have EVER had in a race.... EVER. the weekend after i ran the diva's half marathon in vail. we got pink feather boa's and a tiara at mile 13, and champagne and roses delivered by the vail fire department and the bachelor "Ryan". (Trista and Ryan story). but - after wild west, how does anything measure up???

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    1. Wild West was a blast. But I do love the idea of the firemen and boas...

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  13. I did the Colorado Ragnar Relay last year. 188 miles and 32 hours later with 11 great girlfriends over the age of 35! Running on the Glenwood Canyon bike path at 1:30AM was a little terrifying, but I did it. Looking forward to the Ragnar Trail in Snowbasin, UT in August. :)

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  14. why does corn hole always sound so dirty?! You are right in so many ways about what doing a relay provides...it has been one of the best experiences and I am really longing to do another one!!

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    1. I know!! We got so many laughs about "cornhole." It is an innocent game with a naughty name.

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  15. Congratulations! Having only completed a handful of 5Ks, that looks way more than I can comprehend right now...but you've certainly made it appealing! Over here in Michigan, we obviously don't have the mountainous backdrop you do. However, on vacation this year, ran my first "out and back," while on vacation, following the beach-line along Lake Michigan in Ludington, MI: breath-taking! That view (not accessible from home!) was my reward for getting up and out to run 4 miles that day. I'm discovering such amazing sights since picking up running one year ago! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

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  16. What! That is my college roomate Rafe you are cozying up to at the start. My internet world has just come crashing down on itself. I suddenly feel so bad for him (btw, I met you at Sombrero Run last year...)

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    1. No shit!! Rafe and I had the best time..he cracks me up, even at 4 in the morning. He also fell asleep in the hotel lobby so I get to give him a hard time about that for awhile. Were you the one at the finish of the Sombrero who introduced himself?? SMALL world.

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    2. Yep. That was me. I believe you called me a "turd". Thanks.

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    3. I called you a turd? I must have been feeling sassy.

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    4. You? Sassy? Impossible! Review your Drunk Goat post for turd sassiness.

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  17. I've run Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 4 years now... and I agree with everything you say. Most awesome (and shitty at times) thing you will ever experience. :) I'd love to run a relay with you... I'd never stop laughing. ;)

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  18. I would love to do one of these relays one day. My problem is.....none of my friends run. Seriously, even trying to get them to do a 5k and they laugh in my face! So do people even so them when they know none of the runners??

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  19. Sounds like a lot of fun. It looks like it my be easy to get lost though.

    BTW I am an ISTJ - pretty much the opposite of you

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    1. We'd probably get along great. Opposites attract.

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  20. Malicious Fecal Distribution!!!! I am dying over here!

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    1. It's my quote of the day!! Love it!

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  21. I love relays! I'm doing the epic from Logan utah to the Tetons. Can you say hills? I can't wait. I have not met even one person in my van! It should be a blast and my bowels actually get excited at the sight of a porta potty. I run like a well oiled machine!

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  22. I was in Crested Butte this weekend and saw some of the finishers! We were eating at the Avalanche and saw several groups come in wearing their medals. I could not run at all coming from 1000 elevation to the over 9000 at Crested Butte. Runners out in CO are unbelievable to get use to it. Congrats!!

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  23. Soo pretty! I haven't done a relay since high school track, but I remember liking that my effort mattered to other people. I love your description of how riding around with everyone in the van makes you feel young and alive.
    Did you notice how your little shadow in the top pic kind of looks like a chicken? :)

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  24. I love Crested Butte. I am immediately heading over to Google to see what relays might be coming up in Austin!

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  25. I'm doing the Hood to Coast again this year. If you haven't seen the movie trailer, this small excerpt really highlights why people do these relays:

    https://www.hoodtocoastmovie.com

    I like the part where the guy says he hates it be he HAS to do it. I completely understand.

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  26. Looks like you had a great time, those are some incredible views!

    Thats a long time to spend in a van with people but I would totally make the best of it. I did a shorter relay this past spring (77.7 miles) and we had a blast all day with each other!

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  27. INFJ reporting here...and although there were moments during the Ragnar Adirondacks race when I really thought I wanted to tie a teammate or two to the roof of the van, at the end of the race, none of that matters. It's, like, the magic of 24 + hour relays, I think. [Same thing as your simultaneous "stop kicking the seat" and "you rock" feelings.]

    New Zealand is, by far, the most scenic place I've ever run. I could run there forever. I ran slack-jawed most of the time we were there - each view is better than the next!

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  28. It looks so gorgeous! I'd love to do a relay one day even though I'm more of an introvert. It'd have to be with people that love me though, lack of sleep can make me a bit grumpy lol.

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  29. I think I am nutz because I really want to do one. The Ragner Relay in Washington state was over the weekend, I wish I knew about it sooner. Next year I want to do it, it is 196 miles. Wowza! I loved reading your thoughts about it, now I am thoroughly informed about what it may be like!

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  30. missed the hood to coast spot. oh well, another year, another race!


    by the way - cool leopard skirt! can you tell me what brand?

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  31. HA! If I have learned anything from this blog, it's to plot out gas stations and restaurants and carry money to tip appropriately when running in town. Never poop in someone's alley. That lady obviously doesn't read SUAR.

    I'm an ISTJ. I'm pretty sure I'd need one of those face snuggie things for when I was in the van. I'd love to do a relay, but struggle with being the anchor.

    Snazzy Napper...not face snuggie
    http://archive.longislandpress.com/2010/08/20/snazzy-napper-the-snazzy-napper-is-half-burqa-half-snuggie-all-awesome/

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  32. Can a slowish runner from Virginia who meets the age requirement and has the heart to do this join you next year? I don't fart though.

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    1. YES!!!!!! You know I want you there!!! And, no one but me farted. No one. So you will be in the majority!

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  33. That relay looks like a blast. I had not considered doing one before, but after seeing those beautiful pictures and reading your recap, I may have to add it to my bucket list.

    Thanks for the news report link, I live in Albuquerque and had not seen that! Lovely.

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  34. Gorgeous scenery--and you're right, a relay race is a MUST for a runner's bucket list. I'm still on a runner's high from Ragnar Northwest Passage last weekend. Best. Team. Ever. ZERO drama/personality conflict, tons of laughter and inside jokes that will last forever, and beautiful scenery along the way. Oh yeah, and a whole lot of running hills that made me know what training I need to do before NEXT year. Got to see three eagles in one leg, including one that swooped down to grab something for breakfast. When can I do another?

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  35. What gorgeous photos! Running a relay is definitely at the top of my list of things I'd like to do!

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  36. It looks like it was a great experience! Did your husband participate also?

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    1. Yes, he did. He's the one in the red shirt running.

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  37. Way to go Beth -- but I think I am way too old for this. I'd need to sleep for a week to recover.

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  38. Very cool! I'd love to do one of these some day.

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  39. I ran the 1st Rocky Mountain EPIC relay in 2011! Relays are an incredible experience! The most scenic place that I run are the trails around Crested Butte. You need to come back to CB for a trail running weekend...pretty amazing!

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  40. How do you get into doing a relay? Just search like races? They sound like a lot of fun and worth the hard work :)

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  41. I'm an ISFJ and I have spent 30+ hours in a van twice.
    Ragnar So Cal and Ragnar Vegas 2012. Amazing times with virtual strangers.

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  42. I'm doing my first relay (Ragnar!) in a few weeks and am both excited and scared!

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  43. I loved seeing all your pictures. It looked like a great adventure. I'm excited to do my first Relay in August! I'm running Hood to Coast and am super excited. Will definitely be carrying some wipes with me in case my stomach revolts in the middle of the night on a leg. Thanks for the fun read :)

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  44. Hood to Coast in 16 days!! So excited, it's what got me running. Have you ever considered doing it SUAR?

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