Epic Relay 2016

What the Hill?!

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What a weekend!  We were able to be a part of the Epic Relays series that goes from Cache to Teton Village in Wyoming.

Our journey began in Preston, ID @ the high school that “Napoleon Dynamite” was filmed.  Our van, which had 6 individuals including myself, consisted of Lacey, Taylor, and 3 people we just barely met 2 weeks ago named Kyle, Ryan, and Mackenzie.  Our van was actually quite fun right from the get go, so I was pretty excited for the adventure ahead.  Kyle had the first leg, which we basically showed up right in time for, kind of too close actually, because Kyle is a red head, and he barely had enough time to apply sun screen, and one thing you never should do, is rush a red head while they are applying sun screen.

After Kyle finished, it was time for my first leg of the relay.  It was a little under 6 miles if I remember correctly, about 4.5miles of it was a climb.  I ended up only passing one person, chalking up 1 kill for the van.  As I passed the girl, I apparently frightened her as I passed by and she screamed pretty loud then started laughing.  I apologized and went about my way.  I found a license plate on the side of the road, I wanted to hold onto it as a souvenir, but I decided it was not mine to take, and I left it on the road so maybe the owner of the plate would be able to find it later on.  I passed the bracelet off to Taylor after my leg was completed..I did happen to notice as I passed the bracelet off, that he was wearing a headband..which I had never seen him wear before.  Made me 😀

Lacey’s leg was after Taylor’s, and while we waited for Lacey to take a corner, we fixed the sign that said “Left”, to direct the runners up a hill instead of taking them straight down the road.  We all got our photo taken by Omar, who was the social media guy for Epic Relays…he did happen to mention he got some photos of Lacey, and that she probably thought he was some weirdo snapping random photos of her (later on we heard from Lacey about some creepy guy taking photos of her, and we let her know it was Omar, who was supposedly an event photographer).

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Photo above from left to right: Taylor, me, Kyle, Ryan, and Mackenzie.

During Ryan’s leg, while we waited for him to make it a few miles in, we heard a slight meowing sound, which ended up being a little kitten underneath the Sequoia we were riding in.  It…was pretty adorable, but all kittens are..it’s when they grow up that they lose the cute appeal and become a menace to society.  Picture of it below.

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Mackenzie’s leg was a disaster.  She went the wrong way right from the get go, and ran about 2.5 miles before we got in touch with her to tell her to stop and we would pick her up.  Then, after she started again, she became dizzy, but claimed she was ok, which made zero to no sense..so we told her to shade up and if she wasn’t feeling up to running in the heat, one of us would finish her leg up.  She insisted on finishing, which I don’t blame her, if I start something, I have a hard time giving up.  But, as she approached her next challenge, a 300ft climb, she instantly slowed her pace and got to a slow walk.  We all felt bad, especially when she said she had only ran a max of 3 miles consecutively while training for the relay.  It was far from what she had trained for, that was for certain.  It took some time, but she finished up and we passed the rights back to Van 1.

We grabbed lunch at a Subway and headed to the next exchange point to catch some rest while Van 1 did their legs.  We got out the sleeping bags and napped in the shade in some weird park/rv hook up place.

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At first it was quiet…then everyone else started showing up, and it got very loud and crowded.  Van 1 arrived as it got dark, so we started on our way for our 2nd legs.  It very well could have been my most favorite leg of the relay…but my 3rd leg was quite crazy itself.   Anyways, it was dark, no pavement, zero light besides what the moon was putting off and the INSANE meteor shower above.  I could hardly pay attention to the path in front of me while the sky was putting on the show for the runners.  This leg was a pretty intense up hill climb, but I almost paid little to no attention to the gain while my eyes and mind were concentrating on the heavens above.  A lot of the other vans and runners were out of the vehicles staring up at the sky as you would run by them.  Made me feel really small, but in a good way, completely lost in the moment. The experience took over,  I was 100% absorbed into a certain high that could have only been achieved in that exact place, at that exact time.  If a runner’s high is actually a thing, that was the closest to or spot on to what or how I would imagine it.  The incline, the dark Caribou National Park forest surroundings, the slight chill, the dust kicked up from the vehicles passing by, it was all background noise to the experience that left me saddened once I passed the bracelet off at the end of the 8.53 miles.  For 1hr 5minutes, I was completely lost, and I didn’t care.  Over the duration of the run, I was able to chalk up 5 kills for the van.  Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

Lacey’s leg was some decline through the National Park, she basically ran the fastest she ever has over the distance she covered.  It may or may not have been linked to me howling like a wolf out the window as she had about a mile and a half left on her run.  She got mad at me, and she had every right to do so, it was not kind of me, but she achieved a level of speed that she says she has not ran in quite some time.  Do I feel responsible?  Yes.  You’re welcome dear.

That night, well, morning ish 3:30am, after the exchange back to Van 1, we headed out to the exchange where we would start our last legs after van 1 finished up theirs.  Upon arriving to the “camp site”, it was pretty cold.  The site, looked like a landfill, broken cement, poles, tires, wood beams, garbage, all over the place.  The ground, was dirt, zero to no grass, and full of rocks and divots.  At first, I thought I will just sleep in the car, but Taylor would most likely sleep in there again, and it was looking like Mackenzie would sleep in the middle seat of the car.  I wasn’t too excited about sleeping outside, but the moment I climbed into my sleeping bag, shivering, within minutes I was warming up and the next thing I knew, it was 8:03am.  It was a weird 3.5-4 hours of rest, but it was enough charge for my batteries to finish strong.  Van 1 arrived between 9-9:30 if I remember correctly, so there wasn’t much time to sit around and bask in the amazing scenery of the landfill campsite much longer.

After Kyle finished, I was up again.

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Picture above is Kyle finishing up, with me awaiting the transfer of the runners right’s to accumulate kills via passing the slower contestants.  Below, me hitting the go on Runkeeper to track the event.

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This leg was clocked at 3.22 miles, and I told myself even before this relay began, I would go as fast as I possibly could on this leg.  There were two people in front of me that were within kill distance, and within the first half mile, I had the first fatality of the leg.  But, the next kill was making me work for it.  I slowly began catching up to him, to the point that I turned a corner and finally saw his white shirt.  It was go time.  The first mile was a 7:21 pace, which was a slight uphill climb, 2nd mile turned into a 6:52 when I had finally caught sight of him, and the 3rd mile was gone in 6:01.  I gave it literally everything I had to try to catch up to this guy.  Sadly, I never passed him, but the competitive nature of that leg was a memory I won’t ever forget.  Both parties of the van’s were out awaiting the finish of our leg.  I laughed after and gave the guy a high five, told him he had some wheels and I just couldn’t close it up.  It definitely was one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend.  Below, is me finishing the leg, with the guy I was trying to catch on the right of the photo.

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It was an event I truly didn’t think I would have enjoyed as much as I did.  The time spent with Lacey, my little brother, and a new group of running friends was time I didn’t take for granted and enjoyed every waking moment.  I hope it won’t be my last relay, but if it is, it was an adventure, a rush, and a memory I’ll hold onto for the duration of my existence.

Author: UTAHBEARDEDRUNNER

I'm 30 years young, father of two dogs that run the house. I enjoy all the little things in life, like running, snowboarding, reading, yard work, camping, hiking, & binge watching The Office on Netflix.

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