American Odyssey Relay 2013 – Make It Happen! – Part 1


Trying to summarize 4 jam packed days of American Odyssey Relay 2013 into a single entry doesn’t happen overnight especially when there are a ton of notable events so I’m going to break this down into a few parts. I’m sure I’ll forget some of the details so if you read this and want to add anything, do it in the comments section. A quick overview for those who are reading this and have never heard of AOR or a 200 mile relay. You assemble a team of 12 people and each take a set of “legs” that range from 3-9 miles. When your leg is up, you run it and hand off to the next person. When the 36 legs are finished, you’ll have traveled from Gettysburg to Washington DC in extraordinary fashion. This humorous video does a good job of explaining. After all the people read this post and see how great the trip was, I have a feeling Nathan will be moving from 2 teams to 3 teams next year. I’m going to write this post as a trip report from the moment it started to when it ended remembering any and everything I can.

Entire AOR Teams

I met up with Nathan, Jeff, and Jose at the Enterprise in Plymouth Meeting at 1:30pm on Thursday to pick up our new homes for the weekend. We drove to Nathan’s office and awaited for the teams to arrive. After getting settled, we drove 2 vans up to Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Lancaster for a buffet of immense magnitude. We arrived just as the early dinner crowd (+65) was finishing and for a mere 18 bucks, had enough food to last for days. This place had rows and rows of dishes and was a perfect choice for our type of crowd. The fruit punch was delicious and earned me the nickname “Kool-Aid”. We left Lancaster at 6:30 and drove the 1 and half hours to Gettysburg to arrive where the race was to begin. After checking into our hotel rooms we grabbed a few beers and socialized with the members of our team to get to know each other a little better. At 11pm we turned it in because our send off times were around 8 and 9 the next morning and this is the last real rest you get until the race is completed.

I look like I deserve to be a part of Shady Acres.
Too much Fruit Punch!

The 6th place finishing team
6th Place Team

The next morning we packed up the vans, did some van decorating and cheered off our runners as the race got started. I took the Browns to the Super Bowl in the Wyndham restroom which was luxurious compared to what I knew the rest of the trip’s accommodations were like. Once both teams had started, we had planned a Segway tour around Gettysburg which had its stories. At the indoor Segway practice course you had to prove you could handle a Segway which was challenging for some (Ck4) but without much delay, we took to the streets. I found the Segway to be new at first but after a few minutes riding it, you get the hang. This idea was better than what we did last year which was wandering around Gettsyburg with no particular purpose. After an hour on the Segway and touring the area, we hopped off to meet our runners at the next transition point. My legs felt like a lead balloon after the Segway which had me a bit concerned but didn’t prove to be a problem. Driving up Leg 6 had Chad starting to understand what type of hills we were in store for.

We arrived a bit early at the transition point which gave David (more on him later) plenty of time to warm up. When we saw Fran cruising up the hardest leg with ease, she handed off the bracelet to David and our set of legs had begun. This was David’s first time doing this event and he got a nice taste of the what type of terrain was in store for us. Without much issue though, a winded David handed off to Chad who had a nice little 1.5 incline that he was up all night worrying about. We assured him we would be his van support at the top of the hill to give him water. As it turned out, we didn’t follow him along the path and had no chance to give him water which was a bit of concern for some (Nikkii) but not much for the rest of us. We drove the next transition point and waited (and hoped) that Chad would be alright because he isn’t exactly a veteran runner. The jokes at this point of whether we would ever see Chad again were flowing. To quote Chad before he did his run, “I’ll either be there or I won’t.” Part 2 to come shortly.

TC & CK4
ck4 and tc

CK4 Sweating a bit
ck4 finishing

By |2013-11-14T18:58:14-05:00April 29th, 2013|My Life|2 Comments

American Odyssey Relay

I did something a bit different this weekend. I ran in a relay called the American Odyssey Relay. The relay consists of a 12 person team completing 200 miles starting in Gettysburg and finishing in Washington DC. Our team, Ambler Stampede, had two vans leave on Thursday afternoon to do the registration and we stayed the night in Gettysburg. We started the relay at 9:30am on Friday morning. The 200 miles is divided up in 36 legs that consist of somewhere between 4-10 miles. We designate the vans as van 1 & 2. The 6 people in van 1 complete their legs and at the 6th transition point, the vans meet up and switch for the next set of runs. Essentially, each person has 3 legs of their own, they do their leg and they have to wait for 11 runners to complete their legs before they run again.

I packed 3 running outfits and a bunch of sweat shirts and sweat pants because I knew it was going to be on the colder side. I put an expected pace time of 6:30 per mile. Each person gives their own pace time and this is what we used to know how long you have to get to each transition point. For example, if Bob (the runner before me) has an 8 mile run and expects an 8 minute pace, I know I (Van 2) have about an hour to get our van to the next transition point so I can be ready for when he finishes. This sounds easier said than done. It happened a time or two when our runner would finish and the next person wasn’t ready to go at the transition point. Coordinating 12 people really takes some managing.

Another key difference in a run like this is the rest time between your next run. I was a bit unsure how to approach this as I’m not used to only waiting 10 hours before my next run. I’ll briefly describe my experience with the legs. My first leg was about 5 miles and started in a trail area only to hit the main roads and turn into an out and back. I did a few shots the night before and wasn’t feeling fabulous but still finished my run in under my expected pace by a few minutes. My second leg was by far the highlight of my experience. It was about 2am, 40 degrees, and the sky was crystal clear with hundreds of glowing stars and a crescent moon to run under. Not to mention that I was running through where the battle of Antietam took place. Not knowing how my legs were going to feel I started off the run at a modest pace. After the first mile (and passing about 4 other teams) I knew this was going to be fast because it was all asphalt. The leg was only 4.7 miles and the conditions were that of a perfect storm. I started moving at a brisk pace and finished the run before my teammate was even able to meet me. The mile times, I think, were probably 5:30’s but I didn’t have a watch on them. Absolutely phenomenal experience. My 3rd leg was along the Potomac river (it was actually a canal) was my longest at nearly 8 miles and I beat the expected pace by a few minutes but my legs were really feeling the fatigue. I was happy with my personal performance.

Here are a few notable stories & findings from the trip –
– We left our runner at a transition point due to complete panic and miscommunication
– Nikkii was by far the best at designing our van
– I have a knack for directions
– I slept a total of 2 hours in the entire experience and did my best to keep Nathan awake on our drive from West Virginia to Poolesville at 4am-6am
– I had my reservations on how easy it would be to get lost over the course of 200 miles and I found that it wasn’t an issue. Our runner, Jeff, however did not have the same findings as he ran a full mile off course until he was rescued by the race director.
– Your eating schedule gets completely out of whack on a relay like this.
– Meeting 11 new people is truly a great experience and I’m happy I signed up for something outside of my norm.

By |2013-03-15T03:38:42-04:00April 29th, 2012|My Life, Running|1 Comment

Top Posts