Last Transition Zone!
It was about 4:ooam and we had 5 hours until we were up again. I think I was pretty beat by this point and I rested on the drive to the next Transition Zone. It was interesting how our van's energy seemed as depleted as the 1st Van's, but ~6 hours later. After their 2nd runs, they were pretty beat when we had energy before our 2nd runs. Now we were in their shoes. We found the starting spot of our next run, parked among many vans at the church. Some of us decided to go ahead and get pancakes, while I had recently finished my run and was not particularly hungry yet. I slept for a good solid hour I think, then it was daylight and we were up for the duration. Talked to some other runners - a Clemson grad on an ultra team, 3 others from the Greenville Track Club who were last minute additions, Team "I Need a BRR-Ache" whom I always was at the exchange zones with, and others who were just friendly enough to say hello. I eventually got my pancakes - they were good and the $ went to a good cause too. Mike was scheduled for about a 10am start on the hardest leg of the event. 6.5 miles, rated "Mountain Goat Hard". It went up to the top of Hawksnest - and the name is appropriate. It went from 2900 ft to ~4200 feet in the last 5 miles! A little aside here - most every leg as I've said was not necessarily rated correctly and the elevation maps did not do them justice. This one however did - and it was as bad as it looked. There were no surprises here - but Mike was up to the task. His ankle was ok and he took off when Alex passed the wristband. First 1.25 miles were a very gentle uphill and Mike passed us his shirt when we passed. He overtook 3 or 4 people early on and set out on an even pace. We passed some goats on the way up the mountain and waited for Mike - just to make sure his ankle was holding up. He was in the same gear, doing fine and we went ahead to the top to wait. 56 minutes for that leg - amazing!! Little more ice and some Aleve and he was fine. Everyone who finished (especially those from the other van) always said how good it was to be finished. I got to hear that from everyone but Kerrie and Terry before I was done.
Todd was next on a very hard 9.4 mile run, going down the other side of the mountain before flattening out the last mile or two. That really makes it harder - especially when you are expecting it to be downhill the whole way. Plus - the flat section was dead straight, so you knew your momentum was gone. Todd finished it in 1:21 though. The sun was out and it was getting hot - the small creek there would have been nic to get in, but Kathrin was up next on her 5.2 Hard leg. So we're now at leg 33 of 36. We were ahead of schedule by about 15 minutes, so the cut off time was not going to be an issue. As we drove ahead on this leg - we went up a steep section where 4 people were walking...did not bode well for Kathrin and she let us know when she finished in an hour - "That hill was just Mean!" She was in good spirits otherwise - and of course, glad to be finished! Kerrie went for her 4.4 mile moderate run, so we had to hurry to the next exchange. Our exchange was on the lower end of an uphill, but Kerrie pushed it to complete her last leg in 40 minutes. I took the wristband and started uphill. After 40 yards or so - I knew then it was going to be tough - my legs had Nothing! I knew the first 2 miles of my 4.2 hard leg were all uphill...it was relentless. I ran/walked for much of it, but was running for a decent amount as I crested the top, then had a slight downhill as I got back on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Having two legs on there is the main reason I chose to be this runner). It was flat to a gentle downhill the rest of the way and I felt better as I went along, pushing harder to make up for the time spent walking. The photo is from the one overlook from the rest of the van as I ran. Finished the leg in 38:50, so not bad considering. Passed off to Terry and we moved on. Passed him flying down the road and saw all these other teams on their last leg also. The staggered starting times were designed for this...we passed the Solo runner. Yepp - one guy ran the whole thing, starting 6am Thursday morning, so we knew he'd finish. (I don't think he should be allowed as he didn't compete in the "Relay"! But still - what he did was incredible! Finish time was something around 57 hours). It was certainly a wonderful site coming down off the mountain into downtown Asheville. We met our other group who already had a nice big meal and waited for Terry. We didn't have to wait long as he powered home on the 6.8 hard downhill miles in 1:04! He almost ran right over the team finishing at the same time - we never even had a chance to run over the line with him - but he was motivated and ended up with the same finishing time as that team - no complaints there. We did get our group pictures, talked with our team members and others at the finish line - and we were gone, back to Greenville.
We obviously enjoyd it and it tool all of 2 days to talk about doing a relay in 2010. Initial thoughts are the AOR one from Gettysburg to DC! Stay Tuned!
Kathrin's Relay Report: