Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blue Ridge Relay Recap- Part 5- when things start to get a bit hazy

It was time for the Captain to pull on his racing flats again. In a remarkably similar situation to the one I found myself in at the same time of last year's race, I was just about to be handed the wristband very closely followed by our nearest rival. This leg was the easy one of my three, a slightly downhill 4.3 miler with few turns. And, just like last year, I ran a solid enough leg but felt I could have run faster. In fact I ran 1 whole second faster than last year! More importantly, it was 8 seconds faster than Scott. The overall lead was creeping back up to a minute and Bob was up next. He clearly had his counterpart's number and after a brute of a 7.5 mile leg at 1 o'clock in the morning, two more minutes were gained. Chris protected the lead, then things were about to get very interesting....

We were now nearly 12 hours into the race and everyone was starting to get a bit tired. The middle of the night hours were beginning to take hold and the in van banter was reduced as runners tried to grab the odd moment of shut eye. Aaron set off on his second leg. Shortly afterwards our van overtook him and called out the usual encouraging words as we passed. Soon we were approaching a key intersection but there were no signs indicating that the runners had to turn. Usually no sign meant carry straight on. We were confused, a van in front of us was clearly confused as well as it was crawling along at 10 mph. We followed that van across the intersection not entirely sure we were going the right way. Driving along we were looking out for the tell tale flashing lights of other runners. There were none....

We were trying to keep calm in the van but were now clearly lost and the maps weren't really much use. Our new worry was that we weren't going to get Josh to the next exchange zone in time to get the wrist band from Aaron. We did a u turn and headed back the way we had come, this time at about 70 mph! Other vans were around, it was clear that we weren't the only ones lost. After eventually getting back on the right route we still weren't sure whether Aaron had got lost himself. As we hadn't passed him again we presumed he had and as we approached the next exchange zone, the other van was finally able to get through to us on the phone. Aaron had indeed gone the wrong way but they had found him and pointed him back in the right direction. Apparently, Asheville's Aaron had also gone off course but he too was back on the right route. Two very pissed Aarons were heading towards exchange zone 23 having both run a couple of additional unwanted miles.

It soon transpired that Asheville had suffered more than CRC. When the dust settled CRC had expended their lead from 2:30 to just over 5 minutes. Based on how the two Aarons had matched up on their first leg, Asheville could probably have counted on their guy cutting the lead in half on this leg. Instead they found themselves further behind. How would they respond?

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