Well, the time finally rolled around for the P200. After a year of waiting, we finally get to head south and put the running shoes on for 200+ miles of running bliss (or torture- it depends on how you look at it). YHC had rode with Montross to pick up our Mercedes Sprinter 10 passenger high top vans the day before. These vans are definitely worth the extra money, as long as they don’t leak (more on that later). YHC rolls up to the rally point (Pocket’s house) to find our driver (Big Pappy) wearing shirt, tie, slacks, dress shoes, coat with tails, and a top hat! Needless to say, he took the title of driver very seriously! Way to go, brother! After all PAX were accounted for, we loaded up and Jeeves (a.k.a. Big Pappy) took team Geritol south. We kinda dubbed van #2 team Geritol because 4 of the 6 runners are Respect age, EZ Rider is 49 and 1/2, and YHC is almost 48.
As we were rolling south, YHC told the PAX of my latest book I’m reading. It’s an autobiography of the greatest wrestler of all time, Ric Flair. YHC was glad to know he wasn’t the only PAX raised watching mid-Atlantic Championship wrestling. After the discussing had ended, we discovered we were doing the Ric Flair battle cry – WOOOOO! This would become the battle cry of van #2. Any time a PAX came into an exchange zone, he would yell WOOOOO to let the next runner know it was him. We also would yell WOOOOO out the window as we drove past our runner headed to the next EZ. Big Pappy was really into this. He loved it. We all did, but Pappy was really getting a kick out of it. In all honesty, it was a morale booster for all the PAX during the run.
We arrive at the EZ where van #1 will be passing off to us. Dr. Seuss comes in hot (literally. He was sweating. We have pictures as evidence). He passes the baton/ bracelet off to our salty Marine war horse, Oompa Loompa. Van #2 is on the course!
Oompa put his head down (the wind was a big factor during the whole race) and leads the charge with a great 3.21 mile leg. He passes of to Purple Haze.
Haze takes off like he’d been shot out of a cannon. This is his first relay race, and he was determined to make it a good one! 3.96 miles at a sub- 8 minute pace. Baton is passed to Rip Van Winkle (a.k.a Def Leppard) who will eventually set a new PR for most hours slept during the P200.
Not to be outdone, the former Nantan pulls 6.76 miles with ease. Most guys believe he was just in hurry to get back in the van and go to sleep! Nonetheless, he passes the baton to our other 1st time relay runner, EZ Rider.
EZ Rider had that P200 first time power going. He pulls 3.53 at a 7:58 pace! WOOOOO! He passes off to Termite.
In his typical calm, cool manner, Termite laces up his Alphafly next% and cruises his first leg of 5.34 at just over 8 minute pace. He makes it look easy! He hands off to YHC.
YHC wanted to keep our van’s great pace up and pulled 8.85 at a 8:06 pace. Besides a left hamstring cramp with 100 yards to go, YHC was proud of his run. The baton is handed back over to Blart in van #1 and van 2 heads out to get some grub.
We stop at Vaselio’s Italian restaurant for food. Most guys carb up with pasta or eat light. Oompa orders a dozen buffalo wings with fries. That’s old school Marine mentality right there, folks. Oompa don’t care. YHC must remind you that our driver hasn’t broken character. He is still fully decked out in his formal driver attire. He got a few odd looks here and there, but he was a celebrity at the EZ’s. He had his picture taken, signed some autographs, and was an awesome representative for the Gashouse region. As we talked about our first legs we ran, Def Leppard looks as if he’s going to fall asleep into his baked Ziti. “I gotta get back to the van” he said. We roll out and as YHC does a head count, we are missing Purple Haze. We couldn’t find him. A couple minutes later, he comes out of the KITCHEN where he had thanked the cooking staff at Vaselio’s for a wonderful meal! That’s the kind of HIM that Haze is. We cannonball down to the EZ to get some R&R before we head out on our 2nd set of legs. It’s dark, chilly, windy and a light fog/ mist is falling.
These conditions are perfect for Oompa Loompa as van 1 passes off to us and van 2 takes over. He cranks out 3.86 miles without getting lost! The ol’ war horse is getting it done. Handoff is made to Purple Haze who told YHC he’d be smuggling grapes on this run. It must’ve worked because Haze crushed his 7.7 miler at a 8:04 pace. YHC is standing at the EZ waiting on Haze to show up. Def Leppard is getting ready (supposedly) in the van to take the baton from Haze. YHC hears the familiar WOOOOO! as Haze rolls into the exchange zone. He runs up to YHC with baton in hand and says “where the F&$% is Leppard!”. Nah, he didn’t. It did remind YHC of my first P200 when Tiny Tank stood in the EZ yelling “where the &*%$ is Slaw?!” YHC called Def Leppard to inform him that Haze was at the EZ waiting on him. Leppard claims it was due to a headlamp issue. Sure it was. Whatever the case, the old sage trots out of the van, grabs the baton and pounds 5.3 miles of pavement with no issues at all. Leppard passes off to EZ Rider then goes back to sleep in the van. EZ Rider stretches out, digs deep, callouses his mind and takes off on 8.75 miles of running in the dark. With our trademark WOOOOO! he pushes through the pain and rolls in the next EZ to hand off to Termite. Still calm, and stoic, Termite verifies his course, then runs 6.6 miles at a 8:02. The man makes it look easy. YHC then rolls out on a 5.95 miler straight down highway 17. YHC got a couple kills on this one. With a respectable 8:10 pace, we hand off to van #1.
We decided we needed rest over food, so Jeeves took us to the last EZ where we would begin our last set of legs for some sleep and snacks. YHC believes everyone got some rest on this one. In what seemed like only 30 minutes, Montross texted to let us know that Dr. Seuss was out on his last run. Time to wake the kids up. Purple Haze makes a last minute request to stop by CVS so he can get some Chap-Stic. It has been windy and cool (if not cold) the whole time. As we pull into CVS, Def Leppard comes out of his coma, looks around and asks “wha-wha-what are we doing at CVS?”. He also had to catch up on the progress of the other runners in our van who ran after he did. We all take restroom breaks in a heated bathroom (thank goodness) and head back to the exchange zone.
The last set of legs for van 2 were daunting to say the least (except for YHC). The sun is up, but it’s cloudy and the wind is blowing harder than ever. Oompa is pacing the sidewalk like he’s itching for a fight. He gets the baton and begins 6.53 miles of windy misery that takes him across the Isle of Palms Connector which is low bridge that ends in a pretty high bridge as you roll into the Isle of Palms. We had to wait at the other end of the bridge for Oompa. Oompa makes it to the IOP and is cramping up pretty bad. Since we were out of Midol, he had to settle for mustard packs and Gatorade. He chugged that down and swore he was going to catch the woman who passed him earlier. Haze and YHC look down the course and see no one. Maybe he’s hallucinating. As long as it keeps him motivated, we don’t care. Oompa runs his last 2 miles looking for this mystery woman. He makes the exchange to Purple Haze. Haze is off on his last leg that is 8.6 miles long. He had to backtrack Oompa’s route across the IOP connector, then 3.5 more miles inland to the EZ. YHC wouldn’t have wished this leg on his worst enemy. Haze rolls in completely spent from running against the wind. He finishes his leg by passing off to Def Leppard. Leppard gets the baton, stops, changes his Facebook status to “in a relay race”, then takes off on his final leg of 3.57 miles. He was almost hit by a car while running through a shopping center, but he stayed the course and crushed his last leg. EZ Rider says “hey, it’s a lot shorter than the 8.75 I just ran” and rolls out onto a VERY busy highway 17 for his last leg of 4.56 miles. As we wait on EZ Rider at the next EZ, Termite is stretching and tallying up how many kills he’s going to get on his last leg. EZ Rider comes in strong and passes off to Termite. Termite starts off slow to let the other runners think that they’ve gotten an easy kill by passing him. He then turns on the juice and gets a bunch of kills on his 7.1 mile trek. YHC is standing at the EZ waiting on the baton from Termite. Adrenaline starts pumping as YHC thinks about all the hard work by all his other brothers that has lead to this last leg. “Leave it all on the track. If you aren’t exhausted at the end, then you haven’t left it all on the track”. This keeps going through YHC’s mind as Termite is within sight. As YHC takes the baton, he heads out making sure he paces himself. He gets 2 kills on the way as van 2 rolls by with a victorious WOOOOO! With the finish line in sight (as well as my brothers) YHC finally pushes across the finish line with the guys (with Big Pappy still wearing his suit)! What an awesome experience! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
We stayed for the post-race festivities for a little while then headed for the hotel to finally take a hot shower. There was a lot of mumblechatter around the dinner table at the Mellow Mushroom. We woke up the next morning to cold rain and the same relentless wind. As we get into the van to head out for breakfast, Big Pappy makes a left turn and it rained inside the van! Termite was soaked. The rental company had failed to inform YHC that the roof mounted air conditioner had been damaged and the roof was leaking. They claim they had the leak fixed. Apparently not.
After breakfast, we put the van into the wind and headed home. We talked about the race all the way home. YHC also had time to reflect on van 2’s progress and achievements.
Oompa Loompa- The old Marine had his “Old man don’t give a $h1t” attitude and was as consistent as the day is long. He kept us laughing at his old sea stories (which YHC can definitely relate to). With grit and determination, he pushed through his legs and got the job done.
Purple Haze- For a first time relay race runner, he didn’t show it. He crushed all of his legs, and was secure in his manhood to smuggle grapes on his 2nd leg. Even in the face of a very windy 8.6 miler, he was optimistic and finished strong. He was the only guy to go into the kitchen (or any kitchen) and thank the cooks. To YHC, that was awesome.
Def Leppard- The former Nantan displayed the traits of a true leader by hunkering down and running his legs hard. Even though he has been battling plantar fasciitis for 6 months, the man still posted times that were just as if he’d never took a break. We are still trying to figure out how he was able to sleep so well in the van. New PR for Leppard.
EZ Rider- He could be a linebacker for an NFL team but he’s out in the gloom running a relay race. Another first timer to the relay race, he crushed it. his first leg was sub-8 minute pace, night run was 8.75 miles, and he had to play Frogger on highway 17 for his last leg. When he finished, anyone could see he was proud. He should be. He performed flawlessly in his first P200. WOOOOOO!!!
Termite- This man is sneaky fast. He loves getting those kills on the course. With all his legs around the 8 minute (and some sub-8’s), he really makes it look easy. He really does. If any of the other guys would’ve gotten hurt, he would’ve stepped in and took their miles without even thinking about it. He’s a machine that loves to run and it shows.
Big Pappy- As soon as YHC saw him in the full outfit, YHC knew we had the perfect driver for our van! He has become a legendary figure dressed as Jeeves. He never got tired and remained at the helm for the entire duration. He has a bunch of great and funny stories to tell, and YHC loved to hear them. When YHC asked him if he would want to be a driver in a future race, he said “Dang right! I’m ready to do another one!”. It’s the camaraderie that’s built during these races that keeps us coming back for more. Thank You for driving, Big Pappy. We all had a blast!
As YHC finishes this BB, he wants to let the guys know that he had an awesome time and he’s proud that he was part of this team. Everyone accelerated during this race. Thank you guys for the great memories and we will definitely do it again!