The Tuna 200 – Van 1 – The Big Deal
Van 1 participants began arriving at the GSM International Headquarters around 4:10 – 4:15 am on Friday morning, the 20th, to embark on the great adventure known as the Tuna 200, a 200+ mile trek from Raleigh to Atlantic Beach.
As a precursor of things to come, Boudin was dropped off by his wife around 4:20 am for the trip…….that’s correct, his wife dropped him off.
We loaded up “Red Wolf”, our beloved van, and set off northeast toward God’s Country (Raleigh, home of the Wolfpack).
Hushpuppy was reminded as the driver, he was now in control of a totalitarian dictatorship and was in total control of direction, stops and agenda……..our first stop was Biscuitville. Just what we needed before jogging immense distances.
YHC texted the main group that we were finally on the road around 6:30 am or so and got back some salty responses from Van #2. At that moment, we were already east of Greensboro, but I wanted to get the smack talk & covert operational communication started early.
Somewhere along the journey, we received some grim news that Whoopee’s 16 year old cat was having some issues that morning and the worst was feared. As of this writing, the cat is fine, or at least as fine as a 16 year old cat can be. During this discussion, Broke mentioned he had a blind dog (or did at one time) to which Whoopee replied, “Did you get him a seeing eye dog?”………you can’t make this mumblechatter up.
We arrived at Thomas Benson Park with time to spare as Broke prepared to start us on the journey to Atlantic Beach. It was cold. There were pickles. We almost forgot the team wrist band. At 0900, the team Broke out of there at about a 5:00 min/mile pace…..we were off. The running order for Van 1 went like this:
Broke – Madoff – Boudin – Sargento – Whoopee – Stroganoff
Red Wolf set off to chase down Broke and get Madoff to his launching point.
I’m not sure when this discussion occurred but somewhere along the line Boudin asked about dealing with ‘runner’s raw nipples’, for you runners you know what he means. He stated he almost wore one of his wife’s sports bras which elicited zero response from the group……just concern……..this was just the beginning from Boudin on this trip.
It wasn’t long before the temperature started to creep up and even though Atlantic Beach is located well below Raleigh, these routes were by no means flat. Rolling hills for all.
The first 5 runners had us ahead of schedule and had multiple kills as we headed to the first big transition zone where we would meet up with Van #2 and they would complete sections 7-12. The problem now became the heat as it crept up into the low 80’s. Our last few training runs had been in the 50 – 60 degree range and in the morning. As Whoopee approached the exchange zone to hand off to YHC (after completing an insane 9+ mile leg), I was concerned with the heat and the 7 miles ahead of me. As I took the bracelet and headed off, I couldn’t get my Jocko Podcast to work and as I fumbled with it someone passed me (oh hell no) and I finally got the podcast going and back on track, I could see a couple of persons in front of me in the distance so I tried to settle in to a good pace. Did I say it was hot?
I was good until about the 5.5 mile mark as the heat and hills had taken its toll. I had actually passed 3 people to this point and had another guy blow past me at a quick pace. However, I could now see him slowing and thought I might could get him before the finish. My pace was slower now though but he suddenly started walking….keep it up Strog, for heaven’s sake don’t stop. I was able to catch him and finish relatively strong but I was torched. I handed off to Kuicwche and Van 2 was on the course. It took me some time to calm down and get in a good condition to leave, I think I even vomited in my mouth but am not sure.
We then headed for some food and found White Swan BBQ on the outskirts of Smithfield and I wondered how in the world we ended up here. More Tuna 200 mumblechatter. As I was attempting to remove the route tattoo I was informed by Whoppee that “nutbutter would take that tattoo right off”…..I made a mental note. It was also during this period that I learned that while at a concert, Sargento and his M were “searching for something like a sperm searching for an egg”. We didn’t ask for more clarification. After food, we headed to the next big transition zone to rest and wait on Van 2 to arrive. Nice Church; people trying to rest/sleep everywhere; real bathrooms inside the Church; met an F3 guy from Raleigh that grew up in Gastonia and went to Ashbrook H.S., small world.
Dolph arrived as darkness started to settle in on us and handed off to Broke for his longest run, a 10 miler……good Lord, why are we doing this? Short time sharing some thoughts with Van 2 group before we headed off to chase down Broke for our next transition. It was dark now so we would all be in our night gear, reflective vest, blinkers and head lamp. Surprisingly, we saw more than one runner from other teams without all the night gear that was required.
Boudin “The Big Deal” arrives on the scene. Somewhere during his second leg, Boudin stopped to help a damsel in distress. It was dark and some of these sections were a little scary so one of the female participants came back to Boudin during his night run (when he saw her running back to him he immediately thought he was running the wrong direction) and asked about running together to the finish as she was a little frightened and Boudin obliged as the gentlemen he is. He then proceeded to remind us that he is ‘kind of a Big Deal” and gave the impression this happens to him all the time. It also may have been during this time that one of our M’s asked about our groupies as they had seen women in the background on one of the video posts online. We informed her we had not seen them yet but expected them to arrive at any moment.
Everyone picked up the pace during these night sections as the temperature had dropped significantly, Whoopee even arrived to hand off to YHC before I was even up to the line yet. I quickly got to him, turned on the night gear, cranked up the Rush and took off. The night leg was terrific, cooler, allowed me to catch several other runners and finish with a decent pace (for me anyway). I did experience some post run cramps after this leg but was able to push through them much better than I did at the BRR.
It was now just into early Saturday morning as Van 2 worked through Legs 19 – 24. We headed forward to the next big transition zone to attempt to get some sleep. Some of us were able to, others not so much. It was cold now and cramps kept me from sleeping at all.
We received the warning text that the last runner from Van 2 was on the course so it was time for us to get it in gear for our last legs. Van 2 arrived and not long after, Dolph sped in to hand off to Broke. Off we went for the third and final legs for Van #1. The first few final legs were in the dark and all were much cooler sections and all the runners before me continued to blaze the trail with fast times. There was much relief as each Van 1 runner completed their last leg, including myself. My pace was okay but my legs were not responding well to the pace my brain was telling them to run. However, I finished and Van 1 was done. There is a sense of relief and accomplishment when you know your last section is behind you. It was now in Van 2’s hands to bring it home to Atlantic Beach.
Van 1 headed back a couple of exchange zones for a shower before finding some terrific food and heading to Atlantic Beach. Atlantic Beach is a terrific finish as the finish line is on the boardwalk. We arrived with time to spare to enjoy a beer and some food and wait on Van 2. They arrived shortly before the glory leg, Dolph, arrived at the finish. One of the great things about these races is having the entire team cross the finish line just behind the last runner and this was no different. By this time it was hot again but Dolph and Team Fury brought it home in a fast pace. Our overall time was 28’09”, not a bad time at all. I believe it was an 11th overall finish……good work men.
Had some good fellowship at the event after finishing, at dinner and at the hotel on Saturday night and again on the drive home the following day. Some of the group stayed for some fishing on Sunday morning and I heard it was a successful endeavor.
Other mumbechatter heard during the Tuna 200 (must ask in person for more details):
“I lost her but she came back to me.”; “When your chatting, you don’t think of the suck.”;
“The blue shirt really makes my eyes pop.”; “I owe you one. Actually, you owe them two.”; “They’re youthish.”; Why did we drive 2 miles out of the way for a bathroom stop after passing 5 – 6 other places to stop?
How do you describe how it feels to finish a 200+ mile relay race? I’m not really sure other than to say how grateful I am to F3 and each person who has ever posted to a workout, 2nd F or 3rd F event with me. Each of you has impacted me and inspired me to be better. Not only had I never done anything like the Tuna 200 (or BRR or Palmetto 200) before F3, I had never even heard of them. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to continue doing such crazy events but I will as long as I can. I appreciate the journey I have been on over the last 2 ½ years through F3. I can’t say for sure that I have become a better person during this time, but I know I have tried to be and want to be because of my involvement. You men are good and I appreciate the push.
Until the next one, let’s keep pushing the rock. Get someone else out there as you never know who might need it and how you might personally have a positive impact on someone you have not yet met.