So Joel took off running and our van had 5+ hours to get to the first Transition Zone. As I said, sleep would have been most beneficial down there road, but we had none of that! Stopped in the park at an overlook, took some photos and waited for Joel to come by on his 4 mile run. Looked good as he ran into the fog. The fog would come back in the night and wreak havoc...but I am getting ahead. No sign of the mountain lion either (and never did see one).
So we didn't have an address for where we needed to be (Bald Mountain Baptist Church anyone??), and we didn't really want to follow the first 6 legs to get there, so we rambled around and finally followed a very nice guy in a tow truck who led us in the general direction. Found it and beat the race officials there. We were Very early! Needed some food - so off we went again. Filled up the gas tank, got some snacks, and one of us even had an omelet, which wasn't the best choice it turned out! Headed back for lack of anything better to do. Settled in, threw a frisbee around and met some other teams (Cupcakes, Fleet Feet Females, Make it a Case) from all over (Many Clemson alumni, Alabama, GA, SC, NC, Ohio...). Team Thwack was kind enough to give us there paint pens to decorate our van with nifty slogans such as "Guz says Go", Attack the Hills", and Go Tigers". The sun was out and it got quite warm. Sunscreen was essential. Probably would have been a good idea to stay off our feet a little bit, but again, that didn't happen. That thought didn't occur until it was 4am, we hadn't slept, and we were feeling the effects of our 2nd leg). So Van #1 eventually arrived, we heard a little about the first legs (went out too fast) and Mike got ready.
Van #2 - 1st legs.
So Mike hustles off down the road with a slap of the wrist bracelet (some handed it off more smoothly than others!), we say our goodbyes, and we wouldn't see them for another 5 hours. Mike's leg - #7, was a 5.4 mile medium run with rolling hills. I ended up being the timekeeper of the van and had a printout of projected start/finish times. He cranked out the run in 40 minutes, and looked strong coming in to the transition zone where Todd awaited. Note - Mike had been having ankle issues, and we should have had ice in the van, but didn't quite remember that at this point. We got used to having camera's ready on the runner's entrance to the changeover, at the exchange, and when the next runner took off. Have to capture every moment! So Todd's leg - 5.9 "Moderate +" miles. It's already fuzzy - was this the leg that drove so much harder than the rating? However it was - Todd cranked it out in 50 minutes. Some very nice views of the New River too. We had driven ahead and although parking was tight, were prepared for him coming into the Community of Todd. Seriously! What are the chances? I took this...timed it just right!
Kathrin was our Runner #8 and she had an easy 5.2 mile run. Pretty flat and along the New River - beautiful scenery. The Mountains were looming ahead. After her 53 minute run, Kerrie
was ready to go. She had 8.2 hard miles with some good climbs, but she's a strong runner and looked fresh as we passed her halfway thru. Her uphill finish led her to me, Runner (and Leg) #11. I had 6.3 hard miles. Being runner #11, and with the rules giving special instructions regarding the Blue Ridge Parkway, I had to wear my reflective vest. The support van could also not follow me on this leg, so it was just me, a few more runners, and some weekend traffic enjoying the views. We had already seen quite a few of the same people during these exchanges, frequently starting off on legs around the same time. Two of these started off before me, but I passed them on the way up the first hill. Oh yeah - this hill seemed to go on and on. And get steeper. I did stop for a photograph (may take forever to get it developed), and must admit I did walk a little. Very disappointing. But - I started cruising before the top and pushed pretty hard. Passed another there and eventually caught and passed 2 others before we exited the Parkway, made some sharp turns (Heard later that some people took a wrong turn and went a mile further than they were supposed to), and headed to the Uphill finish of the leg. My leg time was ~52 minutes (kind of forget to start my watch immediately with the whole get the wristband thing). Terry was our last runner, #12, and had a hard 9.1 miles. Make that a Very Hard 9.1 miles. There was a ~4 mile climb in the middle. He was also running some on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we could not shadow him at all, but he made excellent time, as he would the whole event. The 2nd Transition Zone was our next stop, close to where we began the day 12 hours earlier at this point. That will be in the next post!