Yesterday I raced my first relay run ever! The Gorilla Run is a pretty neat race. You can either race the whole thing solo, which is about 16.5K, or you can race as part of a three person relay team. The race starts and ends at the Calgary Zoo and funds are raised for endangered primates and other endangered animals.
My friend D was getting a relay team together, but unfortunately her husband was going to be out of town so she was going to be short a runner. I figured I could help out…but…I was going to the Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival the night before so how well I could help out would be up in the air! D’s in-laws were also forming another relay team, so there may have been a little competition going on. D told me as I was leaving the office on Thursday, “Leana, if you need to puke in order to beat my brother-in-law, then I want you to puke.” Ha!!
Race morning arrived and I was actually feeling pretty good after the festivities from the night before. I made my way towards the zoo in the dark. Race start was a somewhat unusual 8 am, but I guess they wanted as minimal impact to zoo visitors as possible, so the race started an hour before the zoo opened. I found my teammates, D and another friend of ours, T, who also raced the Leduc Women’s Sprint. T took leg #1, D was leg #2 and I took the third leg. We got our timing chip and figured out a strategy for how we were going to get to the exchange points and back. None of the hand offs were close to each other and there were no buses, so it was a bit of a logistical nightmare. To top things off, as announcements were being made before the start of the race we were told that leg 1 had been shortened from 5.3K to about 3.5K. D and I realized that we had a pretty short window of time to get her to the start of the second leg so we booted it from the zoo as quickly as possible.
I made my way to the hand off for leg #3 with D’s brother-in-law. We figured our paces would be neck and neck, so the race really came down to what happened in the first two legs. There were a bunch of relay teams and we were all milling around…no one sure exactly when to expect their runner. All of a sudden I saw D round the corner, racing to the timing mat. She scanned it, I leapt out in front of her and grabbed the chip from her hand, and I was off!
Without a doubt I started way too fast. That’s race day adrenalin for you, eh? I had no idea how much of a time cushion I’d have over the other team so the mission was to just stay out in front and hope I didn’t get passed! A few minutes into the run my stomach started to feel like a rock sitting in my gut. Ugh. The route was a pretty straightforward route along the river back towards the zoo, 5.9K. Every time I’d hear a person come up behind me I’d look over my shoulder. Was it my competition? No, not yet! Must not get passed!! The pathway we were running along sort of ended, and we had to run along this gravel road to get to the finish line. It just killed my legs! I don’t even know if I put a sprint together for the finish line. As I approached volunteers were yelling to remind us that our chip needed to touch the timing mat…which was on the ground. I leaned over to touch the mat as I crossed for what will likely make the most awkward finishing photo ever! I had done it though, I had managed to hold off the other team!
We regrouped at the finish line, then made our way into the zoo for some food. Race entry includes your zoo entry, plus 5 zoo bucks to spend at the cafeteria for food. I grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich and some coffee, we all hung out and chatted, then started to head out. They had just posted the results and after a lot of scanning we finally found them… Except they weren’t our results! I had crossed the finish line around 1:26, but our time was pegged at 1:45?? After looking over the results online at home the best I can figure out is we raced with another team’s chip. I already e-mailed the race director and she’s going to change the results for us though, so thanks!!!
We wandered over to check out the gorillas at the zoo, then called it a day. It was definitely fun to race with friends, and I loved doing a relay with them!
Leg #3 – 5.9K
Time: 34:00 (9:15/mi pace) – 80 out of 116 for leg #3
Total Time: 1:26:26 – 43rd overall out of 116 teams, and 13 out of 37 for women’s teams
Hope everyone had a great weekend!