At twelve noon, the first of 12 runners from each team set off into the Black Mountains for the first leg of the Blue Ridge Relay. I’m in the unfortunate position to have friends on three competitive teams, leaving me with the difficult decision of who to cheer on throughout the next 208 miles. Let’s meet the teams…
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this event, the Blue Ridge Relay is one of the longest running relay races in the United States and one of, if not the most popular on the East Coast. The course weaves its way through the Blue Ridge and Black Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, finishing in the craft-beer center of the southeast, Asheville, NC.
Some of you may be thinking, 208 miles of mountain running? You’re insane. But let me explain the process…
Teams of up to 12 (but no less than 4) rotate through 36 transition points as they cover the distance. Each team member runs 3 legs, adding up to approximately 17 miles. Of course, this distance varies based on how many people are on each team.
Teams pile into 2 (extremely stinky and messy by the end) vans with each van holding the runners responsible for the 104 miles of their half. In a word, the event is awesome.
Each runner faces a different challenge. Some will run their legs straight through the night, while others will battle to keep their legs moving up massive peaks and quad-screaming downhills, all the while enjoying the stunning landscape of a location few ever get the chance to run through.
The BRR is very high on my running bucket list, if not right there at number one. The idea of cramming into a van for 24 hours with my fellow sweaty, smelly, exhausted friends and racing against the backdrop of what is arguably the most picturesque mountain range in the US, is my running utopia.
While I’d love to be part of a team that does the event for fun, not caring much about their time or where they finish in the grand scheme of things, I must admit that the idea of a fully competitive relay is extremely attractive.
So here it is. My official (because it isn’t official until it’s in writing, right?) statement of intent to run the BRR2014. Any teams who are out there looking for a moderately paced, determined
whose anal tendencies will also keep your van clean and organized in all the madness, strong runner to join their team, I’m ready.
For those teams approaching exchanges 3 and 4 at this current time; run smart, run steady and remember that you’ll have your beer soon.