200 miles of uphill battles, dusty roads, oncoming traffic, nasty porta potties, roaming cows & horses, stinky teammates, greasy hair, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, bumpy roads, honks & shouts, high fives, sleepless hours & baby wipes. That’s pretty much what you get if you decide to do a relay. Fun stuff. Really.
It started like any other day. Well, more like my Mondays when I have to get up at 4:30 AM except this time I had to get up at 4:00 AM. I took a shower, but I wasn’t sure why I was even bothering. I guess I just wanted to smell good for a few hours. We packed ourselves into the van and headed north to Fort Collins. I only knew one person on my team of 12, but that would soon change…
Our team was split into two groups. Six of us in each van. The six of us would be together for the next 30 hours… living in that van. If you want to get to know someone, then spend 30 hours with them in a van. The name of our awesome team: Kicking Assphalt! Our van was soon decorated with stick figures of 6 people running through the mountains and a window dedicated to “road kill” (the # of people passed).
Our first runner was off! The first few hours seemed like any other day of running a race. You got out and did your best (which for most people means pushing yourself as hard as you can). We each took our turn as the day started getting hotter and the elevation started getting higher. My run was relatively uneventful with the exception of the dust in my mouth and the bull that gave me an evil eye as I ran past his calves (please note that there was NO fence separating me and this bull). I looked ahead and I looked back, but there was no one around to save me from a charging bull. I kept going and hoped for the best. Then I met a cow down the road who also gave me the evil eye and started moo’ing at me. It didn’t take long for all of the other cows in the field started moo’ing. I was getting a tad nervous so I tried to run faster up the hill.
Much to my relief I made it to the highway without getting charged. I reached the crossing guard and had to stop. I looked back and saw an old man runner (okay, maybe he wasn’t that old) running towards me. The competitiveness in me suddenly surfaced and I jetted across the highway as soon as I was given the green light (by the crossing guard). Of course I was faced with another freakin’ hill and my strength was weakening. Then I heard his voice behind me: “Take me home” he said. That made me visualize some scary movie, but I became more annoyed than scared. I was so annoyed in fact that I started sprinting to the exchange (my finish point where I tag the next runner). I crossed the road without waiting for the crossing guard to give me the okay (well, I had actually misinterpreted his waving flag as the okay… but I said “sorry” and he was cool with it). I sprinted as fast as I could and high fived my teammate before that old man could even make it across the parking lot. That’s what you get dude!
Since I was runner #6, our van was inactive for the next few hours while the other half of our team was out on the course. I was relieved to see that our exchange point had a church that was offering food and its bathrooms. Real bathrooms! I was able to wipe down with paper towels and baby wipes, change into clean clothes and sit inside an air conditioned building to eat my lunch. We were living in luxury (for about an hour). Then we decided that we should head to the next exchange point where we will meet the other van in a few hours. It was a church, but we were not invited inside. I grabbed my sleeping bag and tried to take a snooze on the grass, but that didn’t really work out.
The next thing I knew it was time to head out onto the course again!
To be continued…