In case you missed my last few posts over the weekend, I ran in my very first ultra-marathon relay this past weekend. For those of you familiar with Hood to Coast or Ragnar, Rouge Orleans is sort of along the same lines. Let’s start with saying I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had seen Hood to Coast the movie, and read race recaps of others running relays, but honestly, nothing really prepares you.
Let me explain how Rouge Orleans is a bit different. First of all, you can choose to run solo (!) or as a 2, 3, or 6 person team. You are allowed one support vehicle, and nothing bigger than a 15 passenger van. In Ragnar relays, for instance, you have 2 vans, 12 people. So when van one finishes the first set of 6 legs, that van goes and eats at a restaurant, sleeps on blow up mattresses on a church of school gym floor, etc. This is NOT the case with Rouge Orleans! Only one van, so the 6 runners rotate a lot faster. I was runner 3, so I ran legs 3, 9, 15, 21, and 27. I had about 4 hours in between each leg, but because the van was constantly moving from one exchange point to the next, and you are always swapping drivers…there isn’t a lot of time for sleeping.
Not to mention, six girls in a van = lots of over packing! I will discuss more about lessons I learned in another post, but there was barely room to sit let alone lay down. Our Journey started in Baton Rouge and we ran on top of the levee and ran along the Mississippi River all the way to New Orleans. There were 4 waves of runners, in hopes we would all end within a few hours of each other. Waves were at 8:00 pm Friday, 3 am Saturday, 8 am Saturday (our wave) and 1:00 pm Saturday.
A little more background on what we were dealing with terrain and weather-wise before I begin. We have had a very mild winter here in the south. The past three weeks the highs have been in the 70’s. The weekend of Rouge Orleans has been the coldest of the year, with wind chill dropping into the teens on Saturday night, and a lot of very strong wind. Also, running on gravel is no joke. It’s way harder than pavement, and I had quite the rude awakening when I tried to run at the same pace as I do for road runs. Lastly, some other things were encountered like cows…and attacking dogs…and well…interesting people at 2 am at the gas station.
cows on my leg, of course…
So, with that, let us begin with Friday!
Friday morning, I drove to my parents house. That afternoon, Kristyn picked me up in the huge 15 passenger van we had rented from one of our sponsors, Enterprise.
It was rainy and cold, but we were in good spirits as we drove to Baton Rouge. We met at Lindsey’s house and sorted through our stuff. We quickly realized we had WAY too much to take/fit in the van.
We are giving sponsorship money we didn’t use to Girls on the Run of Baton Rouge. They made us the sweetest goody box to put in the van full of candy, medical supplies, and other fun things like puff painted bandanas!
We packed up the van, hit a few snags trying to get the bike loaded in, and worked on some van decorations. This, my friends, is a ponytail for our van we affectionately named Rapunzel.
We then went over to Erin’s house for dinner (amazing homemade pizza!) and then we were off to bed. But not before I did some organizing and picture taking!
Our team shirts, thank you Graphic Prints! We were so blessed to have so many amazing sponsors!
Our sweet new trail shoes, thank you Brooks Running!
My super cute new Go Sport ID band courtesy of well…Go Sport ID!
Amazing Nuun products…wearing my shirt now…so comfy! I wore my visor almost the entire race and loved it. They also gave us three HUGE boxes of individual samples that we handed out all during the race to other vans, which was really fun!
Of course, our Rouge Orleans swag.
I was proud of our bedtime, 9:30 ish, and got ready for our 5:40 wake-up call.
The next morning, we sleepily got our things together and headed downtown. Of course a huge thanks to Running Skirts for providing the team with cute skirts to wear!
While Katie checked us in, we started decorating the van. We had a rude awakening when we stepped outside next to the river and felt the cold and the crazy wind. Had we lost our MINDS?!? We quickly decorated, did some figuring out as far as where to put decorations, etc. and were pretty proud of how it all turned out.
deep concentration people.
We felt we needed to clarify the above 2 pictures…
at 8:00. we gathered up for final instructions, and the headed up the levee for our wave start, and tried to keep warm.
A few minutes later, the cannons blasted from the battleship, and the runners were off on leg one of thirty of a long and crazy journey.
QOTD: Would you consider doing an ultra relay like this one?
*a lot of these photos were taken by the awesome Erin. If it’s a good picture….it was taken by her, not me!