Reach the Beach is the running event that I probably get the most crazy reations from people for participating in. When people here the number 203 miles (even though I've said it's a relay and there are 12 of us) they just can't get past that. And yes, for us runners it is a source of pride - because hey 203 miles sounds like a lot even if you're only running 15 of them:)
We arrived at our motel in NH late Thursday night, or maybe EARLY Friday morning (oops!) and got a good quick 7 hours of sleep before our adventure began. Friday morning we headed to Cannon Mountain where this years race was scheduled to begin. There were 12 people on our team (here they are in order that they ran): Boyd, Karyn, Doug, Alex, Peter, Jenn, Matt, Emily, Karen, Jon, Armen & me! We were split into two groups the first 6 runners were Van #1 and the last 6 runners were Van #2. We checked in, went through our safety check and orientation and settled in for a nice cozy breakfast.
At 10:40 AM, our first runner Boyd lined up in at the starting line with the rest of our heat and we were off. For those of us in Van #2 we drove the first six legs and parked at the 1st team transition area where we would wait for the runners of Van #1 to arrive. While a small spot, the bathrooms were plentiful, and there was a beautiful little river with lots of rocks, perfect for having lunch. We also, sat and cheered a lot of the runners that were finishing their legs and handing off to their next van. At soemtime between 3 and 4 PM Jenn arrived to hand off to Matt and Van #2 was underway. We ran until 7:30ish maybe. With Jon, Armen and myself running in the dark. When you run in the dark you have to have a reflective vest on, a head lamp and or a flashlight! My first run was 4 miles so I wasn't feeling too nervous. I was really excited, that is until I realized that I was running the first mile on a trail in the woods! However, I completed my 4 mile leg with no problems.
We finished and drove to our next transition area to await Van #2 who was running their second legs. It was a high school, or some sort of school, where the girl scouts were serving a big pasta dinner (thank you!). We dragged our sleeping bags out onto the lawn and caught about 2 hours of sleep.
At about 12:45 AM, Jenn ran up a huge hill in the pouring rain to finish her leg and hand off to Matt. Thankfully for us, even though it rained on all of us during our 2nd legs, the rain died down as soon as Jenn finished. Our van had that dreadful middle of the night running time! And in acutality it really wasn't that bad. Everyone ran well, and it was over before we knew it. I decided to take the advice of Peter from last year and drink a red bull before my 2nd leg since I had been up for almost 24 hours consecutively except for my little 2 hour nap. Not sure what it was going to do to my stomach I decided to take the risk because I had a 6.9 mile run ahead of me. Let me tell you, Redbull really does give you wings! I haven't felt that good running since the Chicago Marathon. I felt like I was flying and I had the best time running that leg.
So with 2 legs done we drove to our next transition area to await Van #1 who was busy running their last leg. Since it was still raining we all had to stay crammed into our 15 passenger van. At about noon Jenn showed up happy to be done and all but threw the "baton" (really it's one of those slap bracelets from the 80's) at Matt. There was a totally different energy to this leg because everyone out there was running their last leg with their ultimate destination in site - we were "reaching the beach". I got the honors of that last leg, and of reaching the beach. Once again I drank a redbull before my leg, 4.3 miles, I wasn't sure how my legs were going to hold up. It was amazing, running through Hampton Beach, NH right along the water, knowing all your teammates are waiting for you at the finish, it was very cool!
We finished 59th out of 154 teams in our division with a time of 29 hours, 2 minutes and 11 seconds. Our average pace as a team was 8:27. Overall, not too shabby if you ask me! If you want to check out the pictures from this crazy event click here to see Capt'n Karyn's cool website she made for us (thanks Karyn!)
This could be my favorite running event, if any of you out there are big runners, make it a priority at some point in your running career to team up with 11 other runners and "Reach the Beach"! There is nothing like running through the state of New Hampshire in September with the leaves changing color. It's a great way to see and experience the state. And the commaraderie of the runners is so fun. I LOVE THIS RACE!!!! :)