Blue Ridge Relay (BRR) - Part 1

Categories: adventure   blue ridge relay   roadtrip   Uncategorized

[Note: You can also read this on Coach K’s site. He was the team captain - I was the team driver / photographer / journalist / assistant time keeper / primary food eater / etc…Part II is over here. ]

Thursday, September 3rd, 2008: The morning started with a team meeting at Keith’s house - our team consists of the Runner’s Fit 6-person Ultra running team… and me. Next, we packed up the rental van. As it turns out, after loading up more water, Gatorade, energy drinks, gels, Powerbars, etc. than we could ever use, there was barely room for us.  But, we managed to squeeze ourselves in and started off on our journey: The 2008 Blue Ridge Relay.

Our reservation specialist, Joe, reserved a cabin about 10 minutes from the start line, which sounded perfect.

The GPS took us up I-85 to South Carolina, where, at a Walmart in Travelers Rest, we found the cheapest gas of the trip, $3.22 / gallon. From there, we went up to Asheville, NC. Surprisingly, the GPS then had us head north through Tennessee. We stopped at the extremely popular McDonalds in Erwin, TN (for some reason, this McD’s was absolutely packed, and showed no signs of slowing down - we’re still not sure why). Now that we were fed, we decided to go find the packet pickup and get a preview of some of the course. 

We made it over to get our packet in a few hours, and headed into Jefferson for dinner. We ate at Geno’s, which provide good food for the money, but service is really slow. By the time we finished it was dark, so the trip up to the cabin started our first real adventure. 

It’s probably important to note at this time that we didn’t actually have directions to the cabin, only an address. Luckily, the road was on the GPS. A bit of a drive up some small, windy, hilly mountain roads gave us a brief idea what it was going to be like the next day.  We then made the appropriate turn onto the street we needed, and hit dirt.

Okay, a dirt road is no problem.  We drove up it a few miles, and the houses got further and further apart. The night got darker and darker.

We drove more on the dirt road.  It got a little narrower. The street lights were just a fond memory. It was really dark.

Eventually, we arrived to where the GPS said the house was. A little nursery was there, but address nothing like what we were expecting. Drive a little further, back to pavement. Still no address. Turn down a small road to see no correct address there.  Lesson 1 learned: Addresses in GPS units are not always accurate on little small country roads.

We turned around, and headed back. We stopped at every mailbox on the way and tried to read the address. Lesson number 2: If your going to get to your destination at night, be sure your flashlight isn’t buried at the bottom of the luggage.

We ended at a house that was way past where the address should have been, but since it’s the first one we ran across in a while, we stopped to check it out.  After 5 minutes of running around the house and not finding the address anywhere, the key where it was supposed to be, or anything else, we hopped back in the van for a third pass down the road, thankful we didn’t get shot while snooping around someones house.

Driving back up to approximately where we where we guessed we should be, we see a flashlight coming up the road towards us. Dustin, our good mannered public servant, hopped out to talk to the guy. In the headlights, we saw a man who did instantly remind us of said movie, along with his hounddog. After a moment, they are chuckling, so I hop out to join the fun.

This guy was the caretaker living down the road, and he saw us go up and down. He tried to wave us down earlier, but we missed him. He was a very good natured guy and the dog was friendly.

Giving us directions, he pointed to a space in the trees, saying it’s “up that way.” We responded “you mean there?”, pointing to the place that actually looks like a driveway that has a chain across it. “No, up there,” he responded, pointing at the other gap, that still didn’t look much like a driveway.  “It’s a bit of a ways up. You’ll have to goose the engine a bit to get started up the driveay. When you get to the top, there it is.”

Uh. That’s encouraging…NOT! 

Okay, a few minutes turning the van for the optimal approach, we hit some gas, and up we go. At this point, our quite fearful leader speaks up with “is that really grass growing up the middle of the driveway?”.  Yes, it sure it. 

Well, about a 1/2 mile up the road, we found our cabin, got in, and tried to settle down. It was really quite nice. There was a hot tub, TV, a phone. (With printed directions to the cabin clipped to a notebook. Boy, that sure would have been handy! They were quite accurate.)

Being the driver, they wanted me fully rested, so they gave me the master bedroom. A nice door with window that looked out over the balconey.  Oops, the window in the door is broke, so the glass just swings open like a doggy door.  About this point, the guys downstairs were talking about the coyotes they were hearing.

My night was spent staring at the door. Waiting for the wolves and other creatures of the night to come in and eat me. I’d guess I got 4 hours decent sleep at the max.  Yeah, this was going to be fun.

Up early the next day, I got 1.01 miles in for a run. (Have to keep the streak alive.)  I knew I’d need my energy, and probably run another couple miles throughout the day.

Lots of coffee and junk food for breakfast, and we were off to the race.

Heres how the boogey was going to get to me:

This is the direction the wolves and other animals will come from.  We actually saw a group of deer down here, but I wasn’t ready with the camera in time.  The slamming window/door scared them away.

Whew, the next morning, we’re all still alive and ready to go.

We sure wish we had some team shirts so we would all match, but alas, someone placed an order too late so they didn’t get here in time.

Written on September 7, 2008