As I write this backblast about the terrific event that it was over 4 months ago, I realize that of the 12 runners we had, only 5 were not respectable (R). Maybe time is catching up to me and is why I keep forgetting to write the backblast. Maybe it’s because this relay sucked all the life out of us all with it’s never ending uphills and extreme remoteness. Maybe I just wanted to forget. Either way, here’s what happened…
Van 1 left from the Intergalactic headquarters of my very generous employer GSM Services at approximately 1:25am fully loaded with the beasts of the road and gravel. They were: Wirenut at the helm, Frank, Pockets, Hot Air, Termite, Sargento and YHC. It’s a good thing we left really early to give ourselves enough time to be there in time. Luckily, the travel gods were with us and there was no traffic and maybe there was a slight miscalculation on the time it’d take to get there and we arrived about 1.5 hours before the start. Anybody need a nap?
Well after we got our stuff, everybody peed a 5-6 times and we got some shut eye, YHC headed out into the dark woods on Leg 1. Wheee!
The van drove down the road to wait at the next EZ so Termite could then trot off down the road. He’s pretty fast for an old geezer.
Hot Air had leg 3 and he’s really fast. This being the case we didn’t delay and we headed out promptly to get to the next EZ. Now Hot Air was going where the van couldn’t so we had to go around the mountain and through Brevard to get there. Wirenut knows how to keep the van on the road. Sargento was riding shotgun and YHC was monitoring the map for directions. Apparently between the three of us, something went wrong and we ended up driving for about 20 miles until we got to Cashiers. It’s a pretty little town if you’ve never been there but theres a problem with it, it’s NOT where we were supposed to be. Not even remotely! Even more unfortunate than that is there is virtually no signal in this part of the world and we couldn’t contact Hot Air to let him know what’s happening. When we were finally able to make phone contact with him he had already been getting hit on by chics for 30 minutes or so as they tried to “console” him during his abandonment. We finally rolled into the EZ after he’d watched a couple dozen team pass by after all his heroics to get kills during his run.
I think Frank ran the next leg, during which we passed Van 2 who had already caught up with us. Oh Lord! We had to get creative for the next few legs to make up time so we decided to let one runner start, drive ahead to the next and that guy start without waiting for the next guy and so on until we were done. We did this with Pockets, then Sargento and that was all for the Van 1 first legs. The plan worked and we were back on track from a time standpoint.
The assessment of how the relay was going so far… uphill, more uphill, no cell signal, still going uphill, and we got lost. It’s awesome!
Van 2 reported as having some terrific runs with nice views of the mountains and countryside. Sarlaac decided to take the hardest legs possible because he’s a true HIM. Soul Glow never complains and runs like a beast. The others showed up for work and got it done!
We watched at the first big EZ near Cullowee in anticipation of Breaker coming in with all the kills. While we waited, we all some rest, some showered and we even got a taste of an avacado based energy thing. Gross! Stay away!!!
Breaker finally rolled in and YHC took off for a pretty flat and relaxing mosey. It was great, you should’ve been there. Termite was up next for a hellish uphill that seemed like it was never going to end. Actually all ther rest of our legs seemed like they were straight uphill. Luckily, it was getting dark as Termite was headed out so it made the sucky uphills a tad bit easier only because we couldn’t see where the hills ended up.
We came across some local yocals messing with the signs and some of the other runners went the wrong way for a couple miles in the dark. Funny, not! Thank goodness none of our guys fell victim to these hijinks and we kept motoring along.
Sargento finally finished his leg at a blistering pace and handed off to Soul Glow who had the pleasure of running a trail in the dark. For anyone who has ever had to do this (see Quiche or Radar from the Mortimer), you know how crappy this can be. Of course, SG handled it with the grace of a man of the cloth, which he is!
All the other runners ran in pitch darkness too but they all ran like pros!
Van 1 motored through the woods, up a few mountains, around our elbows, and past a truck that caught fire on one road in the middle of nowhere that we happened to be on. It’s a good thing YHC has experience in fire and rescue work so YHC did what YHC does and put the fire out by myself! After this delay, we finally arrived at the next big EZ, which was anything but big. Actually, it was really bad because it was at an overlook on the side of a mountain with very limited room to operate and spead out. Sargento kept a positive outlook by noticing that “at least we had a nice view of the stars” from where we were. We make the most of what we have. Did I mention that it was cold by this point too?
Breaker came rolling in again like a boss (not the BOS) and off went YHC into the gloom. As fortune had it, my leg was mostly downhill and a record pace was set! Wheee!
By this point the delirium was running high and, as such, YHC is having a hard time recalling the details. There was a point in my run when what appeared to be runners of relays past came to me in a vision that was clear as day…..I saw Quiche speak to me about the health benefits of running more that I already had, skipping full body exercise and even neglecting other body parts for the sake of the run. He said something about “withering down you arms” so you can be faster, whatever that means. I saw Buckeye with his former Magnum PI look-alike hairdo and stache trotting to and fro like a giddy schoolgirl. Goldigger raced by me like the Flash from Marvel comics except he was wearing his signature no shirt wardrobe. I saw Boudin’s magical blue eyes staring at me from the darkness for at least 3 miles. There was even the image of Dr Seuss sitting in an easy chair, puffing on a pipe wearing a satin robe reading “Pre: The Story of America’s Greatest Runner.” It was all so clear I swear I could reach out and touch them all. Maybe it was an out of body experience. Were they really there with me on this forsaken relay? Maybe I wrote this backblast way back in May and I just forgot to hit publish. Maybe I’m just trying to forget. Maybe…
I finally came to as I was handing off my leg to Termite, who handed off to Hot Air, then Freight, then Pockets and finally Sargento.
We were at a tiny school somewhere so some of us tidied up in the men’s room while others just hung out. It was hot by this time and we just wanted to get to the finish, eat some food and chill out. Luckily, the finish was at the Nantahalla Outdoor Center where there was all of that and more. The river even goes through the site and it provided the perfect spot for basically doing an icebath without the ice. It served it’ purpose and helped keep swelling, pain and other ailments to a minimum.
We all lounged around for quite a while waiting for Van 2 to arrive, which they finally did to much fanfare. A little while later Breaker Breaker came chugging down the mountain from who knows where and crossed the finish line like a champion. We were DONE!
We celebrated for a little bit but mostly we just wanted to rest. YHC booked a couple of cabins near the Center and about half of the guys stayed the night. The other half headed home since it was only about 3pm and their M’s said they better get back. Wusses!
In both groups, conversation circled around with stories of who had the hardest legs, steepest legs, dangerous encounters, what hot chick tried to hit on who, who was hurt now. You know how it goes, lot’s of toppers doing their one-upmanship routine. It’s all part of the relay experience. The main thing we all agreed once we were done….
We ain’t never doing this dang thing again!!! At least not until next year…