That Time I Joined a 1,000 Mile Relay Team

As I've mentioned, one of my recent terrible decisions exciting developments was joining a team of 25 other people running a 1,000 mile relay from Tennessee to Boston. The group is doing this in solidarity with the running community after last year's Boston Marathon bombing, and to raise $50,000 for Boston charities, one of which is providing prosthesis to the victims of the bombings.

To explain a little of how this might go, I thought I'd re-post the only other relay I've been a part of- Ragnar. Several members of my Ragnar just happen to also be on this new endeavor (details of the new endeavor are at

I wrote about my Ragnar Here, here, here, here, here, and here (hey, a lot happened....), but I'll just leave hours 1-15 below for now so you get a little of what we may be in for...except this new team is going 1,000 miles over 8 days, as opposed to 200 miles...over two days...and we are the only "team" on the road...Lord Help Us All......

Ragnar: Hours 1-15 

(originally posted October 2012)

and we continue:

Our team splits into the two vans we now have (one replacement from Knoxville, one church van donated by the Pastor we stayed with the night before) and we are split based on where we are in the team line up.

Here's how a Ragnar team works: you're each assigned a number 1-12 and that's the first leg you start. Then you stay in order through 2 more legs, so if you are racer #1, you'll do leg 1,12 and 24.

And the legs vary in difficulty, so some folks are running like a 9 mile hilly leg, an 8 mile flat leg, and 4 mile really hilly leg. Some may run all 7 milers. I ran a 5.7, a 3.6, and a 4.4 and all my legs were really flat - until the very end. And then every single one of my legs ended on a hill. So I'm sure I always came into the exchange points looking even more haggard than usual. Awesome.

Anyway, the first 6 runners get in the same van, while the other van heads on to the 7th exchange point because that's the first time one of that van's runners will be getting the baton.

Did I mention the "baton" is actually a slap bracelet? Which sounds awesome, until you start thinking about how much sweat that thing collects through the course of 30 hours of continually being on runners' arms. Ew.

I was in the second van, so after the excitement of seeing our first runner off at the start line - we pretty much just have several hours of just waiting.

Although the start line was pretty fun because the teams all get really into this and decorate their vans, wear costumes, use noisemakers at each exchanges, etc.

At one point, we parked next the "Creepy Van Running Club" van which was offering Cute Puppies and Free Candy on its windows. Not so trustworthy, I'd say....
And in the spirit of doing this on the cheap, one of our teammates snagged a few Safety Vests from the school he's the principal of and our runners used those instead of regular runner vests (we all had to wear them - they cost about $10 but why not get one for free from the "Incident Response" stash of a school instead?)

We told the guys they should play those up on the run and ask if people needed any medical help, or What does Logistics do? ....

And besides safety vests, we also had to have -

Head Lamps.

Because this is a continuous relay, through the night, remember. So vest, lamp, and a bike reflector on your backside somewhere. Once we got into the night runs, it looked like a bunch of giant fireflies bobbing up and down on the course. Very amusing.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So we started the race and headed to our exchange point several miles away - and waited. Or, slept, like Former-Green-Beret Robert is doing here:
And it was also here that I made the delightful discovery that one of the teammates in my van was planning to run his legs.. in THIS:

He earned the nickname Captain America and developed quite the fan following on the course.

And it was during the Captain's first leg that we found out --

Our other van lost it's brakes.

For those of you keeping track at home, that's TWO vans we've now lost. Two of two.

And I forgot to mention that this race is through some hills in Maryland and you don't always get cell reception. So our two vans have to try various methods of texting/calling each other, trying different cell carriers to see which will go through. And now we have to try to find a rental car around 6:30 pm to come find us wherever we are and replace our second van.

At one point I really thought we were just going to have to throw in the towel before I even got one leg in.

Several phone calls later, we find out the teammates in our second van have resourcefully just jumped into other peoples' vans and were heading like sweaty hitchhikers to the next big exchange point.

But we couldn't keep doing that the whole race, and we weren't having luck finding a rental van.

And then, a miracle happens. And Former-Green-Beret Robert is on the phone with the nearest rental company and they are literally in the process of saying "I'm sorry, we have absolutely no vans....wait." And while they are on the phone, someone randomly returned a van right then. Right before closing and right when we need one.

The race will go on!

We joyously meet up with Van 2 at the next big exchange point, which happens to be at a local high school who opens up for this race so that the runners can eat, shower, and sleep there - like so:

And you don't sleep much, because soon your van has to leave again to grab the next runner, but it's better than nothing. And soon we were off again and I got ready to do my second leg -- the dreaded night run.....

more in the next post....