Run Now Relay: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston...

After we finish our last run, we check into our hotel. In the morning we see several other flight members downstairs getting breakfast and we start chatting.

Flash back for a second. At some point before the trip, Matt C's wife (woman. planner.) texted me asking if I needed to borrow any of his (man. non-planner.) reflective gear. I was skeptical that we'd ever be able to connect on the road, but I figured what the heck, sure. 

Back to the hotel on the last day. The day when most all of us were totally done with our legs. Matt C. casually walks up to me and says

 "oh hey, did you need my reflective gear?"


The rest of us start comparing stories from the road. Apparently, the Race Horse got into his room the night before, only to find -

someone was already sleeping in it.

It was Jason, the command center 18-wheeler driver that I likely scared a couple states back. That guy can't catch a break...

I overhear other funny things like Matt C. bragging that "EK ran 20 miles yesterday! The longest he'd ever run before that was 8 miles! ...and that was Tuesday!"

We all get back on the road and head to Hopkinton, MA. We still have one more flight on the road, and the plan is to have the entire team link up with the last runner and run together to finish the relay as one. The finish line for us is the start line for the Boston Marathon, where four of our members will line up two days later to run the marathon after this crazy journey.

Everyone's tired. At some point, we get a group text from a team member that asks if we can "take a nice reflective walk" for that last mile and we all laugh. But when our last runner comes trotting up, everyone got a little shot of adrenaline and we all took off towards the line together. It was emotional, to say the least (Watch here->Post by Run Now Relay.)
The team had been on the road for an entire week. I had only been with them half that time and even I felt emotional.

We take photos, drop our stuff off at hotels, and head to a banquet where we presented a check to Dream Big!, one of our charity partners.

The next day, several of the relayers headed back to Tennessee. Like I said, most of them had families they had left for a week, so it was time to get back. (Some of which didn't even fully explain that fact, like Former Green Beret Robert. At the meeting in Tennessee I attended, his wife mused "I don't understand why people are talking about how long this is. It's only Saturday to Sunday!" It was only when someone else in the room explained that it was not an overnight trip, that it was Saturday to the next Sunday that she realized just how long her husband was leaving. I bet that was a fun drive home!)

The rest of us stayed to enjoy Boston and cheer on our four teammates running the marathon.

How do I explain the marathon? I've ran in dozens and dozens of races through the years. I've finished my own marathon, I know what it feels like to be cheered on and encouraged by strangers when you need it. But something came over me while I stood on the sideline and cheered on other runners, other strangers, and saw the look of appreciation on their tired faces. We starting watching right at the finish line, seeing Meb win, with Ryan Hall close behind. We saw Shalane Flanagan come through, and then our Race Horse.

It was exhilarating to be at the finish, but I think it was even more touching when we moved back a bit and stood along the road right at the second to last turn the runners make. Hereford. There's a famous phrase that anyone involved with the Boston Marathon knows: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. Those are the final directions before you see the finish line. Once you hear those words, you know you are in the home stretch.

I watched multiple runners burst into tears as soon as they hit that turn.

We saw shirts noting how far a runner got last year before the bombs went off, and so much determination to finish what was started the year before. We saw men pushing sons in wheelchairs, people running alongside blind runners, people running in memory of others, firefighters, national guard... And something came over me in the midst of screaming out "you got this!!!!" at perfect strangers and waving my cowbell like I was possessed and - I spontaneously burst into tears.

This is humanity. This is what it's all about.

We got to see the last three of our runners - Matt C., Matt R., and Froto Fred - round that corner. Matt R. turning into predictable puddles when he saw us. It was so beautiful.

I raced over to the post-race banquet to congratulation our runners before I had to head to the airport. On my way out of town, I was struck by how many people were wearing the marathon jacket. When we boarded our plane, anyone who ran the race was allowed to board first. Clearly, this whole city revered this race. And after finally watching it myself, I understood why.

Thank you, Boston, for exemplifying resilience and showing love to our team. And thank you, Run Now Relay, for letting me be a part of this incredible journey. Boston Strong. Tennessee Tough.

You can see all the details and social media posts from our relay compiled here.

Below is a beautiful compilation that one of our team members put together of our adventure. A team member who incidentally just completed a hundred mile trail runI love these crazies! Enjoy.