What do you get when you mix 12 fun-loving runners, a couple of vehicles, and 185 miles? The Spokane to Sandpoint relay!!
The morning was a bit chilly as we got to the start at Mt. Spokane (Washington) we were all excited, decorating our cars, some of the runners putting on their costumes for the costume contest. I was my 1st year to run this race with Team Happy Feet-it's 5 o'clock Somewhere, but their 3rd time racing. I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Each of the 12 runners runs 3 legs that vary in distance. You hand off at exchanges, and continue running (yes even through the night) until you reach the finish in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Our "flight time"was 7am, and Elizabeth took off in her Lady GaGa-esque pink wig for the first leg. We quickly left in our cars for the 1st exchange. Where Matt was waiting. And so the race began. Leap frogging from runner to exchange. Each runner has an opportunity to run anywhere from 4-7 miles per leg.
Elizabeth ready to run in her pink wig!
Yes, Matt ran his whole leg in this!
Nice Buns Runner!!
Michelle and Brian
We each were handed off a slap bracelet when it was our turn to run. The tricky part was to try and find time to sleep and eat while you weren't running. Which proved a little more difficult than we thought. I was anxious for my first run. I would be running along the river, through Spokane, WA. As I waited for my hand off from Greg, I was thinking how hot it was. My 1st leg was gorgeous. Along the Centennial Trail and the river. It was hot as heck. Greg, Michelle, and Brenda (who had already ran) were waiting along the course for me. It's nice to have your support vehicle along the way. They got out, and Greg splashed me with about 32oz of water. It felt amazing! They cheered me through, and took off for the exchange. First leg 5.58 45 min. I handed off to Brent, and off went our last runner.
Karen after her awesome TT.
Michelle coming in to hand to Brenda
Our fearless leader, Brenda...isn't she the cutest!!
...and off goes Greg!
Hot as HECK!!!
Go Brent, GO!!!
We were almost through an entire loop of runners.
Our car headed off to see one last exchange as we passed into Idaho, and off to Subway and to try and sleep. We made it to a pit-stop at Michelle's and pulled out our sleeping bags, sprawled on the front lawn, and slept. I am sure her neighbors thought we had gone mad. Middle of the afternoon, sleeping on the lawn. But ya gotta do, what ya gotta do.
We got up and made it to our next exchanges, watched and cheered our runners, and headed out for our night portion. It's funny how you just lose all track of time.
I was nervous about running at night. Not just at night, but the middle of the night, and in the middle of NOWHERE, Idaho. Michelle would run 1st (from our car) and she had to have a light up costume. Can you say...GLO-STICKS!! We had hundreds. She left her exchange in Coeur d'Alene Park, all hopped up on 5-hour Energy, and glowing so they could see her from space!!
Runners catching some sleep in CdA City Park
Michelle glowing and on 5-hour Energy!
The night runs all went well. When it was finally my turn, what I thought would be nerves, turned into my favorite run of the course. I was cool, and dark and peaceful. Ok, I was a tad freaked out by the howling coyotes that seemed to be right off of the road in the bushes. I ran in complete darkness, with only my headlamp leading the way, and saw one other person (who I passed) in all 5.2 miles. During our night portions, we decided to not drive straight to the exchange but try and leap frog our runners. Drive ahead mile by mile, until the runner would catch up. It was fun hearing all of the cheering along the way from support vehicles heading towards the exchange.
When I got back to the car, we were EXCITED....only Brent to run, and we would ALL meet him at Silverwood for a midnight roller coaster ride. Our entire team was at this check point. We waited. He came running in, and we all ran to the coaster. What a blast! I am a roller coaster freak, and to do this mid-race, with a bunch of friends, at 12:30am, in the dark, was extraordinary!! We were screaming, and laughing, and pumped up!! Off the coaster, and the fun started again with Runner #1. Off Elizabeth went, into the cool night!!
Our car took this opportunity to drive ahead and get some sleep. HA!! We found a great spot at an elementary school, in the middle of nowhere (again) Tired, we pulled out our Therma-Rests and sleeping bags and literally fell onto the front lawn of this school. Sleep. About 2 hours into a fitful rest, the sprinklers popped on. At this point we were so tired, almost delirious, we took a few minutes trying to figure out what was happening. Water hitting our faces, we looked at one another, and then popped up out of our bags for the mad dash to the side walk. Drunkenly, sleep-deprived, we stood in the cold, dripping wet, watching the sprinklers for a few minutes. Looking down at our wet gear, not quite sure what to do. This was by far the worst part of the race for me. I was so tired. Almost sick. Greg grabbed our gear, through it, wet into our Rocket Box on top of the car and we climbed back into our Suburban. I put my feet on the dash and fell asleep, wanting to cry. This is the true test of friendship and team work. Feeling so sleep deprived and hungry, a little on edge, ok, maybe a little bitchy and trying to hold it together. Trying not to freak out on your teammates. I think we all did pretty well (ha ha) and no real tears were shed....just some lip quivering.
Daybreak came, and we headed for our final exchange.
Michelle's morning hand off to Brenda!
Tracie opening the champagne
Champagne in the fuel belts!
Last leg. 4.20 miles @ 32:52
My last leg was crazy! We were exhausted, but exhilarated as the sun came up, and we knew we were done. That's all I could think about was being "done" Move my legs so I can be done!! It ended up being my fastest leg. Even though the whole time I felt like the walking dead. Like my legs would give out.
We broke out the champagne for Brenda, popped beers open for Tracie. Ya know the typical thing to do at 8am after running 185-miles for 25 hours!!
We all waited for Brent to come screaming into the finish in Sandpoint, Idaho. We ran in together as a team, crossing the finish line!! It was a great time of bonding. Learning how to deal with situations, hungry, sore, sleep deprived. Knowing, you just have to suck it up for your team. Total time 27:59 That's a long day/night of running!
Over all the race was run fantastically. Every aspect, top notch. Would I recommend it, YES. Will I do it again next year, YES. Will I sleep at that school, NO!
We had a great celebration at the finish that morning. All tired, but toasting with a few beverages!!
Team Happy Feet, you all ROCKED!!!