Race #14 – Blue Ridge Relay – part III

Check out part I and part II.

When we got to exchange zone 30, it was around 5:00am and we were all exhausted, but also starving, so the idea of a pancake breakfast was really enticing! We actually got to the breakfast area before they were ready, so we hung out at the picnic tables for a few minutes and then we got a plateful of pancakes and a big sausage patty along with a fruit cup and orange juice – well worth the $5 price! As we dug into the great food, we quickly realized that sleep was going to win out very shortly. They had opened up a church for us to sleep in and half of us went into the church with some people sleeping on pews and two of us sleeping in what we thought was an alcove at the back of church – as we found out a few hours later, we were actually sleeping in the main entrance of the church, but luckily neither of us got stepped on when the door opened. 

We were expecting the other van to finish somewhere between 9:30 – 10:00, so when I woke up around 8:00, feeling amazingly refreshed, I decided I would just get up and see if I could get ahold of the other van to see how they were doing. One of the challenges with this race is that it’s in the middle of the mountains, so cell phone coverage is spotty and internet connection is virtually non-existent, so while we had a spreadsheet that we could update after every runner finished and it would let us know the estimated time the next runner would be coming in, we weren’t able to use it too much and relied on texts and phone calls instead. The van was right on track and came in at 9:45am – only 6 more legs to go! Our van had two Mountain Goat Hard legs in our last set and the ladies who ran them definitely crushed it! First up was a 6.5 miler which started going uphill around mile 1.5 and never stopped with the grade ranging from 5-6% for 5 miles. Driving up that hill I was glad I was going to be starting at the top and not doing the switchbacks (it reminded me a lot of The Bear). While we were waiting at the top, we got to see someone make it to the top, handoff to their teammate and immediately throw up… this leg was no joke and our runner did an amazing job! I was up next and I had 9.5 miles of almost pure downhill. I was keeping a really good pace and stuck with my 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking as I started the leg. The good news is that the downhill half I did this summer turned out to be really good training for this leg! I passed two people while we were in the woods, but after about 5 miles, we came out of the woods and into the mid-day sun which really slowed me down. I ended up adjusting my run/walk ratio to take advantage of the shade as much as possible and the two people I passed ended up catching up with me around mile 7 or 8. It was disappointing not to be able to hang on those last few miles, but I think it was the right strategy for me because I would have struggled in the heat regardless of how fast I had run in the first few miles. 

  • Mile 1 – 8:05
  • Mile 2 – 8:20
  • Mile 3 – 8:31
  • Mile 4 – 9:10 <– GU
  • Mile 5 – 7:59
  • Mile 6 – 9:40
  • Mile 7 – 9:45
  • Mile 8 – 10:10 <– GU
  • Mile 9 – 10:59
  • Last .5 – 8:00
Overall average: 9:09

After my leg was the other Mountain Goat Hard leg that was about 3.5 miles of uphill to start the run, including about a mile of 8-13% grade, followed by 1.7 miles of downhill… talk about another rough leg! We made our way through the last few legs and ended in downtown Asheville trying to dodge the impending rain storm. We met up with the rest of our team and waited for our final runner and crossed the line together. We ended up finishing the 208 miles in 33:22:35 with an overall pace of 9:35 / mile, just 15 minutes behind our 10k pace! 

Overall, there was great scenery throughout the course and awesome volunteers at each of the exchange zones. The few downsides to this race would be the one exchange zone that was at a fire station that had traffic backed up along the road, the lack of any type of actual finish line festival and only getting a magnet for finishing (where’s my medal?). Definitely nothing that would stop me from doing the race again if I was asked to! 

Have you ever done the Blue Ridge Relay or another relay race? 

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