2010 Blue Ridge Relay

Categories: blue ridge relay   race   Race Report   Relay   Running

Another year, and Team Runners Fit has meandered 208 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, finishing it’s third Blue Ridge Relay.  For the second time, I went along as a driver and had a great time.

The team consisted of 3 veterans and 3 rookies, which made for a nice balance…lots stories to scare the rookies, and enough innocent enthusiasm to not care what was coming. We also had two drivers, myself and Mark.  That makes things a lot easier…even though you still get no sleep, having someone with you who is staying awake just makes things easier.  And being able to sit back and not drive constantly makes it pretty refreshing.

Our pre-race dinner was at Brickstone Pizza and Pasta, in West Jefferson, NC.  After completely devouring 3 large pizza’s, we give this place a thumbs up. There was at least one other team eating there too, but we didn’t talk to them. Thanks to the staff at Mountain Outfitters for suggesting them as we picked up some last minute supplies.

Downtown West Jefferson

For some reason, we were placed with a 10:00 AM start, which meant that some members of the team were under the mistaken impression that meant staying up later and sleeping in.  Uh, no…it doesn’t work that way. (Well, staying up late is all on you…but those of us that normally wake up at 6:00 Am usually continue to do so.)  The advantage was that we got to bake up some fresh muffins as part of breakfast.

The race started, and we were off.  Right off, we started talking to another ultra team, “Hungry Mothers”, and ended up pacing with them for the entire race.  In the end, they beat us by about 10 minutes. This was their first year, and they started with 6 runners and ended with 4.  A great job.

Half way though the first day, we were happy to see the general store (The Riverside General Store, I think) was open for business, so we all had a good lunch. (Food is important on these adventures.)  All-in-all, the day was good, with us keeping track of times, and staying ahead of schedule.

Night started with a long (10+ mile) climb to Grandfather Mountain, and everyone still in good spirits. The only complaint here is that the next leg is only 2.4 miles, which gives no time to stretch before the van has to go.  We tried taking the next runner down, then coming back for the guy finishing, which almost worked decently. Our timing was off, so I drove off, and Ryan finished a couple minutes later, which meant Simon was already running when I dropped Scott off. (I thought I saw him on the way down.)  Ryan got a few minutes of stretching in, but I turned around immediately after picking them up. Next time, we should leave a blanket too, since apparently it’s cold at the top when the sun is down and your covered in sweat.

Later on, when we drove someone ahead, it worked a little better.

The drivers get to hand off at an exchange zone too.

During the night, we had a couple driving mishaps where we missed turns, but happily the runners never got lost. We had one occassion where Alex waited about 5 minutes for us at a stop, since we were sitting on a corner waiting for him, but it was the wrong corner. (Another team was also waiting.)  When we went to look at him, thinking it was too long to wait, we found the missing turn, and got back on track.

Another time, we missed the turn, and kept going up a road. We saw a runner, so figured it was our imagination that we missed the turn…after driving a couple miles, we went back to verify if we were on course, and saw the marker we missed.  We went back to pick up the lost runner and brought him back to the course, then continued on our way, making it to the exchange zone with 5 minutes to spare.

The runner we picked up turned out to be on Hungry Mothers, and he managed to make up a good portion of the time he lost by going a couple extra miles.

Throughout the night (and the whole race), we continued out tradition of saying hi (or ringing cowbells) to everyone we drove past.  Our team appreciates it when, because it makes you feel like you’re not out in the middle of nowhere by yourself.  However, there was another team that was coming up behind people and blowing a horn, which had the effect of scaring the crap out of them. (We talked to two people who this happened it.)  That’s not such a good thing.

Now, as I said, we had two drivers.  Turns out, that helped a lot since in the middle of the night, yours truly got sick and was out of commission for about 3 hours. I’m not sure, but I think it was from eating way too much…I’m usually consuming 2000-2500 calories a day, and I’d guess that by the time night fell, I was probably pushing 3500+ of relatively high-fat food. (Chex mix and chicken fingers are the gonna be the death of me.) That, combined with the rocking motion of the van is what did it, but happily after a few bouts of blowing chunks, all was better and I had no issues the rest of the race.  (I feel bad for Scott, who I was supposed to be keeping company while we waited by ourselves a stop ahead, but that was in the middle of my being sick, so although I stood around a little bit with him, there wasn’t much for conversation.  Sorry buddy.)

From Great scenery

At the pre-dawn exchange zone (Whitson’s general store, I think), the people were selling the nector of the gods….yes, fresh brewed coffee.  Oh man, let me tell you…that was better than most Starbucks. (Which I don’t say lightly, being a bit of a coffee snob.)

The rest of the race was good…pancake breakfast (I skipped because I didn’t want to risk my stomach again), Mountain Goat, Burnsville, and everything else…all went by smoothly.  Everyone having an absolute blast, especially Alex, who was smiling ear-to-ear for over 30 hours straight. (Yes, I’m sure his facial muscles were more sore than his legs.)

Amazingly, we beat our goal of finishing under 30 hours by a whole five an half minutes!

If you want to look at pictures:

2010 Blue Ridge Relay

Super-duper thanks to our sponsors.  You helped make this a great year: Runners Fit helped with race registration. Skanska provided transportation.

(And yes, we did have multiple people ask us who Skanska was.  They are a global construction company, currently working on some big projects in Atlanta, and at Ground Zero in NYC, among other places.)

Written on September 26, 2010