2011 Colorado Relay Race Recap

How can I describe just how cool this overnight, 200 mile, 10 person team relay up and over the Colorado rockies experience was? I don’t think I can. But let me tell you, this was probably one of the most fun, hardcore, awesome adventures I’ve ever been a part of.

Our team, the Fantastic Feet, crushed the course. It took us 26hrs 39minutes to run just under 200 miles, giving us 2nd place for the rookies division and 7th place overall! Out of ~130 teams!

The first 7 legs (of 30 total) flew by ’cause I was so excited for my first leg (8th), but mostly because my friends/teammates are super fast (obvi) (no seriously, they totally are, it’s insane)…
Then came my first leg: 5.8 miles, slightly downhill :) Let’s just say I’m not so hot at pacing whilst excited, because my first mile (thanks to my GPS watch) was 6:29. Ha! I def slowed down but toughed it out, kicked some butt, and averaged a 7:10 pace! Teammate, DJ, cheerin’ me in…
The transitions went so smoothly. 5 of us were in one car, and 5 in another. The weather was fantastic. The cars met every 5 legs, to hand the belt/baton to the other car. Everyone was so amped up and excited, and we proudly exchanged stories, number of “kills” (passes), and anticipated the dark hours ahead.
Before my 2nd leg, I was sooooo nervous. Nervous/excited (like, before a XC race) for the 10.25 miles ahead but more so about the transition into nighttime. Weez handed me the baton around 8:40PM when it was still light out, and I ran through sunset, into the darkness ’til just before 10PM.

I experienced so many different emotions during those 10 miles.
– Awe, while running through Vail village and behind the gorgeous hotels/mansion homes.
– Nervousness, while the sun set.
– A little fear, while lightning and rain started.
– Panic, while dodging traffic during the unanticipated construction that forced me onto the main road with no shoulder to run on (while in the dark).
– Exhaustion, from running 10 miles all-out.
– Relief, when I finally saw my teammates cheering for me at the transition.
I couldn’t even get my head lamp or reflective vest off myself, my teammates had to help. But the sense of accomplishment after that run was like none-other (10.25 miles, 1:17) (definitely the fastest I’ve ever run that long of a distance).

Into the darkness we ran. Each teammate kicking more and more butt.
While our other car/teammates were running the next 5 legs, we had a few hours break. Since I had only been eating GUs and power bars for the past 12 hours, my stomach was KILLING me. I have a new found respect for you ultra runners out there, because that was painful. We stopped by the only open place we could find (Wendy’s) and as odd as this sounds, the french fries and chicken sandwich really helped (mmm solid, salty food).

Then we napped in a park, while we waited for our teammates/other car to come in. Lots of other teams were passed out on the grass too, and the transition area had such a cool ‘we’re tough for doing this’ vibe. Nothin’ like sleeping an hour on grass in a park off I-70 at 2AM. Needless to say, my sleeping bag does not smell good. It’s still being aired-out.

At this point it was super dark, so Weez and I agreed that we’d run our late night shifts together. So I ran 4 miles with him during his leg… Those miles were speeeeedy because I was both scared of the dark (haha) and didn’t want to hold Weez back during his leg (4 miles, 27 minutes). We crushed it, and handed off to Kyle who sped through his leg, and handed off to Lisa…
Then Lisa handed off to Ely…
Then came my last leg. I was hella tired by this point, but gave it everything I could nonetheless. The night sky had cleared up, and Lisa told me during her run that she turned off her headlamp to look up at the stars. So Weez and I did just that :) The sky was beautiful. Gazzillions of stars. A humid but brisk breeze. Despite aching legs, the run was beautiful (5.25 miles, 42 minutes). And I was soooo happy to see our entire team (all 10 of us!) at the transition!

Our other teammates/the other car took the baton and off they went, to run their final legs :) Again our car had a few hours to burn, so we found another park to pass out in. This time, the grass was totally soaked, so I slept on a park bench, next to my friend Ely… Surprisingly comfortable!
A few hours of shut eye and a sunrise later, we grabbed a quick bfast (mmm veggie burrito) and made our way to the final transition spot to catch the speedy, awesome Kate hand off to team captain and general BAMF, LJ, for the final leg!
LJ had a tough leg. 8ish miles, with something crazy like 1600 ft of elevation gain... after running 2 other legs and staying up all night. Right?!? Anyways, we’re mad impressed. Teammates Kyle and Ely bringin’ LJ up the final hill…
We ran the last ~200m together, as a team, through Snowmass Village to the finish line. It was such a cool way to end the incredible journey…
HOORAY!

It felt so good crossing that finish line… after 26 hours and 39 minutes of racing, driving from place to place, eating GUs and Wendy’s, cheering, and getting soaked, and running through construction and over passes, along I-70 through Breckenridge and Vail and Aspen, we completed the Colorado Relay!
I can’t say this enough… it was SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE!

Major major major props to the race directors and volunteers who put this thing together. We tried thank every transition volunteer who checked us in/out before/after our legs, because seriously, those jobs were probably totally boring and tiring at times… but if it weren’t for them, this event wouldn’t have happened!

And a huge thank you to our team captain (and my former roomie :), LJ, for taking on the huge task of coordinating all the logistics for our Fantastic Feet team. You rock, girl!

On the way home, we drove the gorgeous Independence Pass and stopped at the pass for a few photos. The perfect way to end the perfect runner’s vacation :)

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    It’s obvious that you had a FANTASTIC time :) I did Reach the Beach Relay awhile back in ’01 (forever ago it seems) and I recognize your excitement exuding from your post. Nice work!

  2. mallory says:

    It looks like you had an awesome time! I’m glad that it went so well for you!!

  3. Morgan says:

    This looks like such a blast! Well done, especially on that 10 miler! Yikes!!! Thanks for sharing. I def need to put this one on my radar for the future!!!

  4. rand says:

    Erin, you rock! This was a fun read with great pics.
    Great times, especially at altitude.

  5. nicole says:

    What an amazing experience girl!!! Great job too you kicked butt!

  6. Tara says:

    That is awesome, I would absolutely love to do the relay one year! Nice job girl, you had some great times in your legs of the race.

  7. andy says:

    Great job – you killed us by a good 5.5 hours it seems!

    As my 8 yr old daughter says, “Finishing is winning.”

    Well, yes, sort of, dear. ;-)

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