This was my first relay of any kind. I loved every minute of it.
200 miles, 36 legs, 28 hours, 12 members, 2 vans. Teams start in Madison between 7am and 4pm on Friday, and finish Saturday afternoon in Chicago. There are 36 legs, distances ranging from 3 to 8 miles. 6 people to a van. Strict sequential runner rotation, meaning runner #1 runs legs 1, 13, 25. Runner #2 runs legs 2, 14, 26, etc. I had legs 9, 21, and 33.
My story starts with the 2008 MC 200. My friend Louise (an Armelian Marathoner) ran it with a team from Indiana. This was a team of nine, which is allowed, as long as you still follow the rotation, runners must stay in order. She asked me to run her Waukesha leg with her. As finished her leg, the next runner asked me to also run her leg with her. Those who know me, know I rarely say 'no' to running. So, I got to enjoy 2 consecutive legs of the MC 200, and running with my friend, and one of her friends.
A few months later, the Armelian Marathoners decided to put a team together for the 2009 MC 200. We have some great organizers in our group who did a whole lot of planning and preparation. Greg collected recent race times from everyone and predicted our finish time. Louise and Jim S organized logistics of who would do what, where, when, how, and what to bring and not bring.
Our excursion started on Thursday evening, with what I affectionately called the Van Packing Ceremony. We all met at Jim S's house, and made sure we had all our supplies and required items (for example, each van is required to have a first aid kit, 3 rain ponchos, and 2 lighted vests for night running), each person's personal items, and still had room for the actual persons. Jim and his lovely wife treated us all to a nice pasta and pizza dinner.
Our team had a noon start time. Start times are determined based on predicted finish, with the intent of having teams finish within about a 4 hour window. Van 1 had Pam, Jim S, Don, Kevin, Karen and Bill J. Van 2 had Jim A, Greg, me, Louise, Doug and Nancy.
Van 2 arrived at my house to pick up Nancy and me at about 9am, and off to Madison we went. We arrived in Madison, met Van 1, checked in, wandered around, chatted, and then baked in the hot sun in the parking lot at the start. We scoped out some of the other teams that had our same start time, and enjoy reading the funny things they had written on their vans. Note to self: Next year, bring those pens you can write on the side of a van with.
At noon, we all cheered as Pam started us off. Van 1 would complete their first shift in about 4+ hours, so we had a little time. Van 2 went to lunch at Culvers in Johnson Creek, and then went to see a movie. We saw The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. Awesome flick! I go to the movies about once a year, or less. I am more of a watch-at-home-with-a-remote-movie watcher. But this was a great idea. Loved the movie. Thanks Jim A for thinking of this!
Around 4pm we started our first shift. We all took turns with various jobs: running, driving, navigating, getting the next runner ready. After our six legs, we ended in Wales, and went to Noodles in Delafield for dinner. After filling our tummies, we headed to Bill J's house, which is pretty close to the start of our next shift, for a little rest. It was about 10:30pm or so when we arrived, so we had about 2 hours to get a nap. I am a bad sleeper, and knew I would not fall asleep, so I picked a room with a tv. I watched a rerun of House MD with the volume most of the way down. I've seen them all, so I don't need to hear it, but a little tv helps me relax. I was able to get a rest. I think the key to staying up all night is to rest, but don't fall asleep. Mission accomplished.
A little after midnight , we started our night shift. We wore lighted vests, and carried flashlights. The van stayed near the runner, to make sure they didn't get lost or squished. We had a bit of light rain, that I thought felt really good.
We finished our night shift at a transition area at the Zion Community Church. A very nice little church and school that offered snacks, and some resting areas. We had about 3+ hours before we needed to head to the start of our next batch of legs. We found various spots to lay down, and again, I think the trick is to be horizontal and resting, yet not sleeping. Mission accomplished again. I think if I were to fall asleep, I would have woken up more tired. After our rest, we ate some bagels, and headed off to start our final shift.
Towards the end of out shift, we got a call from van 1. They informed us that the teams were joining the final runner, and all running the last 25 yards or so together, all crossing the finish line. How cool is that!
After Nancy started the final leg, we met van 1 at the finish area and waited for Nancy. We spotted her, and all ran into the finish together. Our actual finish time was within SECONDS of our predicted finish time. Yea Greg!
Shortly after the finish, most of the group headed to the Goose Island Brewery for our post race celebration. We enjoyed burgers and beer, shared stories between the 2 vans, and basked in the glory of our accomplishment.
Many thanks Armelian Marathoners team!