Colonial 200 Relay

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So what do a group of runners do over a 24 hour period, just for fun? They decide to cram themselves into a van and run a combined distance of 206.8 miles!!

Yes, that’s what myself and many of my closest friends did this weekend. The Colonial 200 relay is a distance running event that consists of 206.8 miles, comprised of 36 varying distance “legs”. The premise is that a number of runners 1-12, pair up to make a relay team, then divide the legs accordingly, run the distances back to back with no rest and take a total “running clock” time from the start to finish, which is point to point.

This particular relay started in Charlottsville, VA and finished in Williamsburg, VA.

The idea of doing this relay started as just casual running talk last winter. Several of us in the running group were talking about doing one of the Ragnar style relays and many of us had decided it would be a great idea and that we would “look into it”.  After a few days of surfing the running forums, we found one that would be perfect. It would be a 200 mile relay that started only 3 hours away from the 757 (Hampton Roads, Virginia).

At the time, we only had one small issue. Because there were so many of our runners who “wanted” to do it at the time, we needed to decide on whether we wanted to do a couple of 6 person teams (Ultra), or put together a 12 person team (Full). Tentatively, from the start, we had decided that we would do a 2 x 6 person team that would be comprised of runners of equal ability, so that we could have a good little inter-group competition.

Now, fast forward to the summer of 2012 and we are still scrambling to put together a team. Because of several running injuries, vacations, weddings, etc, our 2×6 person team idea was looking like it might have fizzled down to having trouble to even find a single 6 person team.

After several last minute decisions, we finally ended up finding 10 crazy runners who would literally sign up last minute (race started yesterday, Friday 9/28 and we signed up on Monday, 9/24) and run the relay.

Based on running experience, current training and upcoming races, we divided the amount of distance that each individual would run, accordingly. A couple of us on this team had experience with this format of racing (a few of us had run the 200 mile Green Mountain Relay, last year).

For this particular race, those of us runners from the 757 would represent several teams. The Hampton Roads Runners were putting together one 12 mixed team (male/female) and also one 10 person (all male) team. A few more of our friends and training partners would be putting together another 6 person ultra team.

So, we had at least 4 teams (that I know of) representing the 757. There were the 2B5D team (Tommy Neeson, Ryan Carroll, Joel Bell, Dai Roberts, Renee High and Drew Midland), Team HRR Procrastinators and a Diva (my team, which consisted of myself, Ryan Foster, Aric Martinez, Rob Hunter, Thomas Hicks, Rich Montgomery, Derek Bush, Kevin Kemp, Chad Shroy, Mike Deering) and also Team HRR Full (Mike Wolfe, Mary Wagner, Gerald Currie, Terry Koob, Jillian Little, Marc and Andrea Leber (mother/son), Becky Perron, Sarah Guathier, Lauren Sheppard, Wanda Renner, Dena Goble) and the Sea Slugs (Brian Cobb and his teammates, sorry I don’t know the other members names).

Now, there are probably a few additional details to understand, but the gyst of a running relay goes like this; Runner A runs X distance and passes off to runner B who runs X distance (repeat as often and as many times necessary to cover the 200 miles and 36 legs).

On paper, 200 miles, split up between several runners (usually between 6-12) does not look too daunting (for this race, the shortest leg was 2.1 miles and the longest was 10.45). However, when you cram these 200 miles into the time frame of 36 hours or less, plus inadequate sleep, improper nutrition, cramped living conditions (a van) and multiply personalities….things can get rather interesting, to say the least.

The race started at 6am Friday morning and would continue until 6pm Saturday evening (36 hours). Teams would start based on projected race pace, therefore, the teams would start their race between the hours of 6am-12:30pm.

As a runner, you could run your entire life, complete hundreds of races and have a multitude of individual running accolades and acheivements…but NOTHING compares to running a distance relay. Typically, when a runner enters a race, he/she is running either against his/her fellow runner or they are running against the clock for a personal time goal. However, when you are running a relay, you not only rely on your teammates to uphold their end of the bargain, but you also FORCE yourself to uphold your end of the bargain. You all depend on one another for support. You build off of one another’s stengths and you unite as a TEAM. If one runner fails, or one runner fails to complete a leg, the entire team fails…so it is no longer about self will and self determination…collectively, you all have to merge together to create one big badass running machine!!

In a relay, because there is such great distance to cover and so much of a time span to do it in, there is not the typical “race experience”. You will not be surrounded by tens, hundreds, thousands of other runners pulling you along…you will instead be surrounded by the your environment and that is pretty much it. You are out there alone, running by yourself for miles and miles..but, at the same time, you know that you have to keep pushing yourself as hard as you can because the team is depending on you and your efforts. Letting yourself down is one thing, but letting down your team is something entirely different.

In this particular race, we had a nice little friendly competition going. Because many of us in the 757 running community run and train together, we become friends (more like family), despite that we might run for different running clubs, teams, etc. Amongst a couple teams competing against one another, we had runners, several of which were on the same team, representing several various running affiliations (Hampton Roads Runners, Final Kick Sports, Running ETC, Dai Roberts Group, Team Hoyt and Tidewater Striders).

For this day, we would set aside any “affiliation” and come together on our respective teams, competing against one another in the name of competition and good fun.

Amongst two teams in particular (Team 2B5D and HRR Procrastinators and a Diva), there was some very fun competition brewing. These two teams were comprised of 16 total runners who run, train, laugh and socialize with one another on a daily/weekly basis. Before the race even started, there was a good amount of friendly “trash talking” about who was the best team and who would win and also to what lengths we would go to for a win (there was talk of kidnapping, espionage and malicious acts..LOL!).

Before I disclose the final outcome of the race, I would like to point out that it was never FAIR to begin with 😉

Team 2B5D was comprised of 6 runners with multitudes of accolades and accomplishments…to name a few, they had 6 sub 3 hour marathoners, a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, a Kona Ironman qualifier, a European Master’s 10k champion, a 1:07 half marathoner and a guy who ran the entire east coast for charity. So YES, they were STACKED!! Disclaimer: The more awesome I make them look, the less likely anyone will notice that my team got 2nd place and were beaten by them..LOL!

So, how did the race turnout? Well, to summarize, we spent 20+ hours of running, riding, laughing, joking and having an unbelieveably awesome time!! I could go into greater detail about how the race went “leg by leg”..but, for those details, you would just need to have been there..some things cannot be described well enough in words. These relays provide and experience like no other…several runners come together for a day to have fun, find themselves, find one another and connect on an entirely different level…you could KNOW someone for years..but you REALLY get to know them when you have been crammed into a van with them all day and have grown tired and irratible, once they have become severly sleep deprived or just down right delusional…LOL!

Now for those results!!

Team 2B5D (2 Boobs and 5 Dudes….team was comprised of one female and five males) ended up taking the top honors. First place overall, new course record and overall finishing time of 22 hours (6:26 per mile pace). Great job guys/gal!!!

Team HRR Procrastinators and a Diva – 2nd place overall, also broke the former course record and overall finishing time of 23:35 (6:50 pace).

So, are you now interested in running a distance relay? My advice is this…DO IT!! You are certain to have a will be tough at times and you will no doubt experience lots of discomforts and not so great moments..but you will also have tons of fun, unlimited laughs, unknown adventures and a chance for one amazing bonding experience. You will discover things about not only your teammates, but also about will learn that you CAN go harder than you ever believed possible when it’s for the greater of the TEAM.

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