Rouge Orleans 2012 was my second ultra marathon relay. I remember thinking after last year’s race that it was fun but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a 6 man team again, actually contemplated a 3 man team (yes, I was temporarily insane!) and also not joining in and letting the others have fun while I got to sleep in my warm bed and eat hot food. But like my 6 year old niece, I can’t go to bed when I know I am missing the party, so I signed on again.
It’s more than a race–it’s an experience and an epic one at that! For our team it started with planning, decorating and crafting–yes, I said crafting…we had to make our costumes. This relay has a costume contest, van decorating contest and a video recap contest so while we ran as fast as we could, we also made sure to be competitive in all areas. Then there is the shopping, and who doesn’t love to shop?! You must have the right things to eat and wear for a race of this epicness! And don’t forget the van time, it’s pretty much an all night party…at least until the first person asks for “quiet time” (good thing she proceeded to talk all thru said “quiet time”!) From 80’s singalongs to donuts in the gas station parking lot, there are many experiences that bond the team outside of the actual racing.
Making friends. It’s pretty easy to make friends along the journey of the ultra relay as you experience this race together. Chatting while waiting at exchanges or as you pace together along the course, making friends with the folks from other teams seems to as naturally as the bonding in the van. These friends will honk and cheer for you along the way as you do the same for them. The rest of the world thinks you all are crazy so might as well make friends with the other crazies!
Meeting inspirational people. You will meet teams raising money for good causes and people running the entire race solo and unsupported. They may be out there with something to prove to the world or just doing it for themselves. They look just like you and me but their stories will make you weep and rejoice at the same time. These are people that you may pass in your daily life but never know how special they are until they throw on their running gear and run off into the distance. Some of the most amazing people I know, I have met thru endurance sports.
Breaking thru walls. A relay is a great way to build up your mental toughness–running on varied terrain at different times of the day and night for different distances without much time to recover. Each time you get back out of the van to run again, you push another wall down. The distance can be daunting when you add it all together, but figuring out your race plan to get yourself to the finish line one leg at a time and then completing each one will help you build your confidence that you can do this–you can finish.
Crossing the finish line. Who doesn’t love crossing the finish line?! There is a sense of accomplishment with crossing the finish line that comes from little else in life. You set a goal and you completed it. But in a relay you don’t do it all on your own, you have to rely on your teammates, too–you have to take a risk on a group of people that they will share the goal and make the commitment to complete it as well. Crossing the finish line with your friends is all that much sweeter!
Meet some of the friends that I made during Rouge Orleans and read their take on the race on their blogs: