Blue Ridge Relay-Leg 3: And Runners Start Getting Real (Smelly)

And now we pick up where leg 2 left off. We’re done with that phase of running and we’re on break again for a few hours. There aren’t any pictures from our time off between leg 2 and leg 3. It was dark. Folks were burning out and in need of some personal space. Nothing was open in the middle of the mountains so we drove straight to our next transition zone at a volunteer fire department. (Aside from the outlet center, all of our transition zones were churches, schools, parks and fire departments)

This fire department was running a baked potato bar as a fundraiser. Earlier in the day I had thought that sounded odd. Who needs to eat in the middle of the night? And why a potato of all things. Why not pizza? Or cake? I figured I could eat one of the Luna bars I had with me if I happened to get hungry. As we rolled into the parking lot though I suddenly could not resist the siren call of those taters. We got inside and, in the fire dept kitchen, there was a big pile of enormous baked white potatoes, country crock “butter”, sour cream, canned chili, fake bacon bits and highly processed shredded cheese. I loaded my potato up with all that chemical laden crap (not the chili, I had to draw a line somewhere), doused it with salt and wolfed that thing down. It was divine.

Another thing I had not figured on being able to do was sleep. During our afternoon break, after my van housekeeping, I stretched out on the grass and read a magazine. In the the van all day and evening, I was wide awake and into the action. This night stretch was our one real chance at some sleep. I brought a sleeping bag planning to lay down outside the van but I honestly didn’t think I would sleep. And when we tossed our sleeping bags onto a patch of grass and discovered that grass was soaking wet? Yeah I figured I’d just lay there and be miserable but quiet for a while. Imagine my total surprise when the next thing I know I am startled awake by Maddie poking her head out the van door and whisper-yelling (being noisy in the a middle of the night transition zone will get your ass kicked. fair warning, y’all) that she’d just seen a post on Facebook and it looked like van 2’s last runner would be arriving at the transition in 20 minutes. Ack!

I have to give us some crazy credit. We jumped up, broke camp, re-loaded the van, made the long dash to the portapotties and got runners 1 (maddie) and 2 (me) dressed, night geared, numbered and ready to rock. With like 6 minutes to spare! We got Maddie to the line, sent her out, grunted a sleepy greeting to van 2 and got back on the road.

At the next exchange I hopped out, ready to knock out my last leg. Initially this leg had been 4.5 miles long and rated “moderate”. This was to be my easy peasy, victory dance. A couple days before the race a change was made due to a bridge being out or maybe it was Rebecca screwing with me again? Either way this leg got detoured, adding another 2.5 miles and bumping the rating to “Hard”. Again with the hard. At the exchange zone I asked the volunteer if he knew anything about the route. His response was, “Well, first you’ll go down hill for a nice little while. Then there is a BOOGER of a hill. Then you go downhill a little bit again. Then you go uphill a bit to the school”. Well okay then.

Maddie comes in , hands off and away I go. It did roll downhill in a very pleasant manner. Then it flattened for a while. Then there was a fairly short but pretty steep hill. I assumed this to be the booger. We all know what assuming does, right? Yeah. Rolled downhill again. Its still pretty dark but lightening up just enough that I see it looming. The booger. Rising up to the friggin sky. Oy.

Just as I start to hitch my giddy up to begin the climb I see a blinky light, like the ones we are all wearing on our shirts. This blinky light is below the road level though and its not moving. As I come up on it I realize its attached to a runner who is laying in a ditch below the road. He is curled up in the fetal position but I can make out a smile on his face and he appears relaxed. I know some ultra runners will take trail naps and they get annoyed by people waking them up. I slow as I pass him and take a good look. He seems ok but I feel super hesitant to leave him..you know, in a ditch in and all at 5am. He suddenly groans a little bit. I stop and call down asking if he is okay. I think I hear him say “no” so I climb on down into the ditch to ask again. He never did open his eyes and there is a cow laying not 4 feet from him. I don’t know why it matters about the cow but I found it amusing. Anyway, I ask again if he is ok and he says, quite clearly, “Yes”. So I apologize, climb up and move along. I looked back and saw a van pull over as well so I felt a little better. I later found out that medic and police (who I also saw but thought nothing of) were cruising around looking for this guy. Turns out he was pretty screwed up. Umm oops, I am so sorry!!

That booger of a hill took it out of me. It was long and steeper than my evening run had been. When it ended though I was gifted with a nice, long downhill. That felt so good. And then the “uphill A BIT to the school” part showed up. Uphill this time was insane and it took well over a mile. I dropped to a walk behind the guy I’d been cruising along with. I hated the walking but I didn’t have anymore left. He and I picked up a run about a half mile before the exchange and happily passed off our bracelets one last time. Whew!

We drove to the next exchange and I jumped out to change one last time. After my other legs I changed in the porta potties. I’m super private with my nekkid and changing in the van just was not for me. So I’d drag my stuff to the porta potty and (with a headlamp for the night change) do the delicate dance of shower pill bath and clothing change without allowing any naked parts or clean clothes to touch the porta potty. I’m a damn pro at this now. Seriously, I’d show ya but, again, I’m stingy with the nekkid. For this last change, I was tired and the porta potties were really far away from the van. I decided to risk a side of the road, hiding behind the van and under a beach towel change. I managed to get it done just in time to look up and see a guy in another van just openly looking at me. He’d seen a fair bit I’m sure. Jokes on you, eh, buddy?? Whatever. I was clean(ish) and dry and clothed again!

On to the pictures I have from this leg

Getting ready to send Karen back in.

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Monica crossed the road and this car came blazing up out of nowhere and got real close to her. But she scoffs at cars and sprints on.

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Monica to Karen.

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Karen has the best running hair. Just look at her all disheveled in a sexy manner!

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Karen passes the bracelet

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and jumps right back in to team captain mode. She’s still actively dripping sweat but also updating the time sheet and calculating our next move. Multitasker!

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Handing off the bracelet to van 2’s Laurel.

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Laurel is embarking on the most ass-kicking hill I think I have ever seen. And she’s cheering about it. Van 2, were you guys eating funny brownies or something? Just driving that leg gave me nightmares. Word on the street is that Laurel shimmied up that hill like it was nothing at all!

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And van #1 is DONE!

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We then headed into Asheville, knocked back some lunch and awaited the rest of the team at the finish line.

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