12:07am Saturday morning and Van 2 was starting up again. Surprisingly, we seemed well rested. Dave started out for us again - Leg 19, Runner 7. He had an easy downhill 4.3 miler with no turns. 138' down/69' up. Nice little 30 minute run. Having no turns is a good thing, particularly at night.
So - here's where it got a little bit more interesting for us. Yes - we bent some rules, but it's not like we were breaking any course records or anything. Kerrie was worried about her remaining legs (7.5 very hard and 9.4 very hard), so we moved things around a bit. I moved into runner 8's slot on Leg 20, Kerrie took Chris' spot as runner 9 (Leg 21), and Chris got my spot (Leg 24 as runner 12). Got it?
So now it was my turn as Runner 8, Leg 20. 7.5 very hard miles, 476' down/673' up. Todd said it was a fun route with rolling hills and he was right. I really enjoyed it! It got the worst with going up from mile 4.75 to 6.25, but I walked when I needed to and made good time otherwise. 2 guys FLEW past me early on and were gone! There was one team car that kept passing me and stopping ahead to wait (their runner wasn't too far behind me; team name was Who's Your Momma, with kid's photos on their windows). They gave me encouragement every time they passed - it was appreciated! I was glad the road wasn't foggy like last year, but I tried to enjoy it all. Calves were a little tight still, but no major issues. I finished that leg in 1:09. So 15.4 miles (in 2:21 with a 6 hour break) and one more run left.
I passed off to Kerrie for an easy 2.4 miler (Runner 9, Leg 21, 338' down/ 23' up). We couldn't wait around so we headed off to Ingles in downtown Spruce Pine, NC for the next transition zone.
Kerrie still cruised even with not feeling her best and Todd headed out. We took the opportunity to clean up some in the store, brush teeth (so refreshing!), change clothes, and buy some food (pop tarts for me).
Todd's run as #10 was 5.6 hard miles with 282' down and 535' up. Similar to my leg, rolling with the worst of it at the end, finishing at the Penland School. Parking was always a breeze with people directing us at almost every location. I was starting to wind down at this point. It takes about an hour for me to calm down after my run and the lack of sleep was starting to hit me. I thought about laying down in the back, but decided it was pointless and went out with Kelly and the others to wait for Todd. It is quite a bit different here (as we can attest from last year) than other transition zones as the runner coming in is on an uphill turn and the handoff is immediately on the runner's left, plus it is 3:48 in the morning, so you have about 10 seconds to realize your runner is coming in before you head out. We always tried to notice which runners left around the same time as our runner, or who was ahead of them as we drove by, but we weren't very good at that. Knowing what your runner is wearing in terms of what color/number/type of blinking lights, kind of reflective vest, etc always helps. Kelly was pretty easy as she had a green light on her wrist (I think that's right).
So we waited just a few minutes (always expect your runner sooner than you think) and here comes Todd with his blinky lights (no safety thong this year).
Kelly was now off on her 5.6 mile hard leg #22 as runner 11. I did this last year in the Heavy fog, seeing halos as I ran down a long downhill driveway before realizing I was off course. This year was much better with just a little fog, but still, for safety's sake and to make sure she went the right way, we kept close to her until she made the last major turn. 423' down/463' up for this leg. The gravel on this leg is tricky at times too.
Chris finished off our 2nd legs as runner 12, leg 24, 3.2 easy miles, 515' down and only 52' up, finishing in Bakersville. There were a handful of turns, and sure enough, similar to Terry last year, he missed one. Cost him at least 5 minutes, but he showed up in good spirits and Alex started his last leg.