Bright and early is a half-truth. ~ me
Getting back on the racing train was great. I had been missing the camaraderie of running with others and the Wild West Relay was just the ticket.
I managed to climb in the sack Thursday night around 9 so actually got in a decent number of cuts before the alarm started blaring at 2:30. It was early but not very bright when I rolled out to meet the rest of the team in Denver for a short van ride up to Ft. Collins. The race started at the Budweiser plant (can’t think of a better place from which to run away) and we met the remainder of the team at the start line. I was batting clean-up in van #2 so I would have to wait a LONG time before hitting the road for my first leg.
Teams consisted of 12 people who took turn running individual sections of the 197-mile course from Ft. Collins to Steamboat. Legs ranged in distance from about 2.5 miles to almost 8 and we competed in the Masters category which meant that we each had to run our respective sections in order. We started at 6:40am and since van 2 wouldn’t have to start our first leg for several hours, we grabbed some food then made our way to the first van exchange point – a school somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Northern Colorado.
We hung out, got organized, chatted with other teams and waited quite awhile for the first runners to arrive. By the time Tom, our team runner, arrived, it was quite toasty. Sammie took our van’s first shift and ran well despite the conditions. By the time I was up for my 2.5 mile jaunt, it was scorching out. I just put the hammer down so that I could get this bake-fest over as quickly as possible and finished in 19 minutes or so.
Then the waiting started once again as van #1 took over the running duties.
We drove back roads to the second van exchange and did our best to get some sleep during our break. We hung out in a campground for several hours until our teammates rolled in around 11:30pm when once again, we were on duty.
We took turns sleeping and running and my second leg started around 4:45am Saturday morning. I love night running and felt awesome during my 5.5-mile section of highway running. Competitors were spread out along the route before me and were just small dots of blinking red lights in the distance. I ran smoothly and managed to pass 6 other runners and finished in Walden with an average pace of 7:50-minute miles. Not too shabby.
The cycle repeated itself and we ended up in a field near the foot of Rabbit Ears pass. I immediately plopped down in my bivy sack and crashed out for a couple of hours until it got too warm to sleep any more. Some time thereafter the other van showed up, followed closely by their last runner and we were off again for our final sections. Up and over Rabbit Ears then I took over the final leg through the town of Steamboat and on to the finish line. 5-miles in 40 minutes (with a couple of delays where I got slightly off course and stuck at a traffic light). Not too shabby. Overall time: 32:25, average pace: right around 10-minute miles. Good times.
Thanks to Kathy, Paul, Sue, Lauri, Merlin, Tom, Lynn, Joel, Dave, Sammie and Frank for including me on the team, to Kevin and Drew for volunteering and giving me a ride back to my car on Saturday and to Rach for putting up with all my crap all the time and baking awesome treats for me and the team. Hopefully more fun times to come.