Anyone can run for time, it takes a runner to finish. – CK4

There is a link on the top of my web page that reads American Odyssey Relay where I’ve reviewed my past experiences so I’m not going to go over what it is again (200 mile relay from Gettysburg to DC) and just get right into it.


American Odyssey Relay

Shady Maple

What a 250 yard buffet looks like.

Our van of Sam, Nikkii, CK4, Eric, Bill, Scott, and myself left around 4pm to head to Shady Maple which is a smorgasbord of food, buffet style.    It’s funny in my mind when Chad came back with a plate of all meat and Sam called him a carnivore / T-rex but without any picture it is just left to the imagination.

We got to the check-in at Gettysburg where initial race packets and intro messages were being distributed.  Nikkii thankfully manned up and listened to instructions while we drank beer..  We picked her up after and checked into the hotel.  All 34? of us got together in a meeting room and listened to Nathan conduct a preliminary meeting of when the teams were starting and where we should go.  Ready to rock.


First Set of Legs

Get with the program Dave.

Get with the program Dave.

I was our Leg 1 which means I start the race.  From past experience, I knew that it sucks to have to use a porta-potty to shit during the relay.  To work around this I woke up and drank 3 cups of coffee.  I executed effectively and was good to go for my run.  I genuinely felt great and was hoping this would carry over for my run.

What a transition looks like.

What a transition looks like. It didn’t feel as weird as this picture looks.

My first leg was 6 miles through Gettysburg and I completed it with no problems.  I handed off to Krista, who had never done the relay before, and was feeling good.  We met Krista at the 2 mile mark of her 6 mile run and we had the brilliant idea that we needed beer.  I didn’t like the idea of leaving a runner but I also knew that there was not a better opportunity to get beer.  We headed backwards to the distributor, picked up the beer, then raced back to meet our runner.  We arrived with minutes to spare and Jackie was next to run leg 3.

The most famous covered bridge in Pa.  George Washington built it.

The most famous covered bridge in Pa. George Washington built it.  Maybe.

Jackie successfully (I’m not sure what word she’d use) completed her leg 3 while we watched Steven stand over a hole in the ground keeping runners from stepping in it.  The picture to the right was taken which was the members in our van and a covered bridge.  It’s also noted the Holly completed her leg (and the next 2) with a busted ankle so she didn’t pull a “Chad”.  More on this later.


Breathtaking. Actually it’s pretty boring. I took it.

Sam was the next runner and was on a mission to make Dave his bitch.  That was a joke but Sam went rip-roaring through a hard 8+ miles to hand off to our #1 runner Ck4.  This is probably not the exact time it happened but I must add that Chad tried to close the van door and ended up slamming it right on his forehead.  He looked back at us trying to play it off but the imprint of his head on the glass was clear. Smooth.

Those shorts are "runner certified"

Those shorts are “runner certified”

The always optimistic CK4 finished his first leg of 4+ miles no problem.  His running attire consisted of extra long bball shorts, my 5 year old running shoes, and a cotton “sweat absorbing” long sleeve shirt.  His finish was celebrated with some church hot dogs and preparation for Nikkii doing the hardest leg on the course of 7+ miles and 1,000 ft incline.  It’s not for the weak.

Nikkii Leg 6

Leg 6 complete.

Nikkii completed the hard leg and was rewarded with a pint glass.  At this point we had some hours to kill before our next set of legs started.  We drove to Waynesboro to eat at Waynesburger.  There was sign for “free parking” but we decided to fill the pointless meter with 50 cents to be safe.  I ate a chicken Caesar wrap that was actually pretty good.  We then drove over to the next transition point where Sam and I lamented the fact that we didn’t have a frisbee.


Second Set of Legs

Majestic Sunset

Majestic Sunset

I got into my night running gear even though it was pretty light out.  Patti followed a runner the wrong way but still ran a solid leg before handing me the baton.  I’ve known in past years that the second leg has the potential to be blazing fast.  I started slow knowing that there was a confusing turn but got through to the 4 mile straight away no problem.  While running up the hill I passed a woman and made a comment that the sky was beautiful.  She said, “and look at those windows.”  I was like, “uhhhhh, yeah, great windows.”  She said, “you know, getting to see this every night…” and I awkwardly passed her.

I felt fast on my run and truly enjoyed myself.  At this point it was nighttime and Krista was scared of the dark.  Her comments were that she saw some blue blinking lights (the road sign pointing her which way to go) and thought they were possums which displays her mental state that any noise or sight was going to attack her.  None the less, she completed her leg with no issues and handed off to Jackie.

Not the right leg but everyone on my team gets a pic on the blog.  You're welcome, Jackie.

Not the right leg but everyone on my team gets a pic on the blog. You’re welcome, Jackie.

I was feeling pretty freaking good at this point and was drinking some silver bullets.  At one point during Jackie’s run Sam parked us Jurassic Park style while I encouraged runners who were passing by in the pitch dark.  As I asked Jackie how she was doing she replied that, “this hill sucked a dick.”  AOR brings out the truth.  Even with the inclines she pushed through the tough leg and finished with only a few choice words.

This was a picture of the sunrise.

This was a picture of the sunrise.

The next set of 3 legs was Sam, Chad, and Nikki running out and backs by Boonsboro.  There is really not much to say because not much happened.  I ate a $3 piece of shitty pizza while CK4 ate some Sloppy Joes.  Sam tried to get some sleep in the gym while I tried to get some shut eye outside on the asphalt.  A few others slept in the van but I don’t think I slept for more than 45 minutes.  Sam popped in the van at 1:30 am and we drove off to Shepardsville, WV.

Aside from CK4 using some expert negotiations, a wiley 360 spin move, and some chatter to get a van to move out of our van’s way so we could leave, not much happened.  I ate a $1 bagel from the boy scouts which I paid $3 dollars for because I’m a nice guy and got ready to run my 3rd leg.


3rd Set of Legs

This was taken with a high speed / slow motion camera.

This was taken with a high speed / slow motion camera.

My 3rd leg was 8.6 miles and straight along the Potomac.  It was 3am and pitch dark.  This leg sucked.  I probably passed 15 runners which kept things moderately interesting but it was me and my head lamp for 59 minutes.  I handed off to Krista who had the same run for 6 miles and agreed it was equally bad.  This is where the relay started to get interesting.

Jackie was hurting from her last leg and was put in the spot of running when she would have loved to find a feather bed to sleep in.  She gutted through her leg and had a mini-meltdown where she was “never running again.”  Sam was next and finished his leg as Stortz’s do.  Now the fun begins.

Clouds are exciting.

Clouds are exciting.

With 16 of our 18 legs done we sent Nikkii on an 8 mile trek.  Major props to Nikkii for completing leg 6 but this leg was more than she could chew.  This was supposed to be the hardest leg for the #5 runner (CK4) who managed to switch with Nikkii.  With Nikkii on her run. our van was presented with the situation where one of runners was not wanting to run his 8 miles.  We talked it over and tried to divvy up his miles but the skin under my nuts was chafing so bad that I was in no shape to run and others were not exactly enthusiastic to take on more (Krista and Sam did volunteer).  We had to drive 20 minutes away to pick up Nathan who was going to help Chad run his miles.

In the end we let Chad leave 30 minutes before Nikkii finished and picked him up an hour later by switching him with Nathan.  It wouldn’t be a story unless a big, brown, barking dog didn’t attack Chad as he was running his leg.  If we could all lead such adventurous lives.


Finishing AOR

Real life tired.

Real life tired.

We handed off to the second team at around 9:30 AM on Saturday and Van 1 headed back to the Wharf area.  We weren’t able to check in to the hotel so we got some breakfast and pondered giving the hotel clerk a stunner.  I have to add that watching our crew cross the streets with only 15 seconds on cross walk intervals was hilarious.  At around 12:30 pm they let us into a room and we showered up and headed to the Wharf to watch our team finish.

Van 1 at the Wharf after finishing the relay

Van 1 at the Wharf after finishing the relay

We found parking with some of my nifty driving and smuggled some Coors lights into the party area.  I got a hot tip from Krista’s grandma and put $50 bucks on American Pharoh in the Derby who ended up winning me $140.  The Wharf had the beer situation handled this year and was overall a fun time with AWESOME weather.  Nathan’s interview with the AOR video crew was great as he never repeated her question as instructed.  I especially liked when Krista told the camera that her leg was horrible.  Cut.

We went back to the hotel and congregated while some people went home and others met up for dinner.  We spent the dinner making jokes at Chad’s expense and I realized that I was unbelievably tired.  At 9:30pm I fell asleep which negated the point of staying over in DC for the night.



I awoke at 7 am and we left shortly after.  After I caught a huge buzz off of a Starbucks coffee while driving I was an instant chatter box with millions of thoughts racing through my head.  The CK4 navigational aid app was tops.  We said goodbye to Chad and Nikkii, dropped the van off at Enterprise (Sam tarded out and left his door key), and I went on a 7 mile run to wrap up marathon distance in one single weekend.

This is truly a unique experience where you spend 30 hours in a van with 5 other people and run.  I remember someone asking me what they liked about AOR and I had difficulty answering.  I’ve since learned the answer to that question.  I love the running.  I love seeing the sunsets and sunrises and meeting new people and just enjoying the experience.  It only comes once a year and that’s probably enough, but I like doing it.

Also a big thank you to Nathan Relles for the hours of planning involved to run a successful relay.