Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Blue Ridge Relay Pt One

This is part one of my Blue Ridge Relay race report.

207.1 miles from Grayson Highland State Park VA to Asheville NC
Team "Do Not Resuscitate"
Total Time: 33h 03m 09s (9:32 minute/mile)
Open Category: 41/44
Overall: 87/99


Last year, we stayed in Boone NC in the night before the race, which made for a very early wake-up call. This year, things were a little more relaxed since our hotel was just half an hour away from the start line.... theoretically... 45 minutes including a couple of detours.

Van2 decided to sleep in (can't really blame them), so van1 was on it's own. We signed in with the race officials and took our starting line picture with half of the team. The other half is going to be photo-shopped into this pic! ;-)


The sequence in Van1 was: Alex, Christina, me, Jeff, Ken and Joel

A disclaimer for the following "leg reports": I didn't interview my van mates about their legs, so please keep in mind that all of this is basically what I saw or what they mentioned after their run. Some descriptions will be more detailed and some less detailed... Depending on what stuck in my head. Each of my team mates is encouraged to add their opinion or set me straight where necessary.

1. Rotation Van1

As our first runner, Alex took the show on the road for team DNR. His first leg was downhill and the goal was to beat Joel's time from last year... and even more important, not to get passed by Fred Flintstone again, which was a no show this year, so no threat there. The van handbook mentioned to watch for wild ponies, but I don't believe there were any sightings. His 4 mile leg was done and over quick (at least for the one's waiting) and the wristband was handed over to Christina.

Christina's 7.5 mile leg was also mostly downhill on narrow gravel roads. It actually took our van forever to navigate those roads, but the views were nice and there was almost no traffic, except the team vans. She made it in to the exchange zone pretty much at her projected time and looked strong when she handed over the wristband to me.


My first leg was 5.2 miles with the second mile being a nice steep uphill (up to 8% grade) on gravel roads. The first mile, I did faster than I thought I did and still felt good. The uphill mile was a little more work, but I kept plugging along... slowly. Mile 2 according to the Garmin was around a 12 minute/ mile. But once I was done with that hill, it was all downhill to the next exchange zone - first on gravel, but then the last 2.5 miles on the road. The gravel made for some insecure footing and even though I was wearing trail running shoes (as usual), I felt several rocks poking in my feet. The van traffic also caused some dust which didn't feel to good. I good passed by several people during this leg and passed one runner. The people that passed, didn't just pass me, but they flew by me and most of them were out of my sight quickly. I tried to not get discouraged by this and just kept on running based on my abilities, trusting in my faster team mates to make some ground on their legs. I ended up with 10 minutes/mile as average for this leg and I feel good about it... It also felt good to pass the baton to Jeff.

Jeff had a 6.9 mile leg on tap as first run. He actually was the only team mate that chose to return to his legs from last year (to re-live the glory? ;-), so he knew what he was about to run through from own experience and not just watching other team mates. He also had to run on one of the first bigger roads with heavy traffic. But in true Jeff fashion, he had a fast leg despite the long nasty climb between mile 3.5 and 5.5... Carrying NO WATER... Fascinating! Time to hand over the wristband to Ken.

Ken's leg routed him through the town of West Jefferson. A lot of the time, there were sidewalks available, but at one of the craziest spots there was none. Of course.  He also had tons of turns on his run, but not a problem for Special K. There was this one quarter mile 7% grade climb in the last mile of the run. Yikes. He came in way under his projected time, so Ken really has to stop sandbagging! ;-)


Time for Joel and the last leg of the first rotation for van1. Joel had two nice hills on his first leg over a total of 5.2 miles. The first mile was all hill topping out at a 6% grade and then the other hill was between mile 2.5 and 4.5 topping out at 8% grade. The handbook says to enjoy the views of the mountain and the waterfalls on the first big descent, but I kinda doubt that anyone has the nerve for that kind of thing on a gravel road while trying to recover from climbing a big ole hill. But like the trooper that his is, he brought it home and handed the baton to the first runner of van2.

1. Break for Van1

Now it was time to get some rest for van1. We drove to the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock and set up camp at the second transition zone where we would start up again in a couple of hours. We got there around lunch time, so we hit up the same spot we did last year and stuffed our faces with burgers/wraps and fries/ sweet potato fries (onion rings for the people with the iron stomachs). After feeling sufficiently full, we got back to the van to nap. Some of us napped or tried to nap in the van, some of us where laying out on the grass like so many other runners from other teams too. I maybe got in 1.5 hours of sleep, which is pretty darn good for me in.

Funny side story from the transition zone: After we were already parked there for several hours, two police cars visited us with sirens and blue lights and stuff. From what we hear, a "concerned customer" called the cops because our van had "Do Not Resuscitate" written on them and there are people laying in the grass. Hmmm... For whatever reason they completely ignored the writing on the next van window saying "This time it's not serious... again!". Anyways, the police officers were pretty cool after we explained what was going on and they of course also had to notice all the other decorated vans in the parking lot. Weird weird story.

Stay tuned for the next part of the relay race report coming up tomorrow... maybe... We'll see! ;-)

First run post BRR2 update: It was ugly and I just made it to 3.5 miles before giving in and walking back to the Y. I still feel pretty crappy now and will call it an early night. Hopefully things feel better tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. That's funny about the police stopping by. This seems like it would be the most scenic running. Hope your legs feel normal soon!