For those who wear short shorts and know what a Fartlek is, then the BRR is likely about the running. For the rest of us, the BRR is what happens between the running: the fellowship, the laughs, the teamwork, and the dumpster diving. It’s not often you see a grown man emerge from a dumpster with a typewriter under his arm. It’s rarer still to watch a grown man disembowel a typewriter in a Blowing Rock parking lot. But I am getting ahead of myself…..
For the uninitiated, the Blue Ridge Relay (BRR) is a 208 mile foot race from Mt. Rogers, VA, to Asheville, NC: the very definition of #CSAUP. This sounded like a good time to Mall Cop (midnight kettlebell enthusiast and, according to some, the Founder of F3) so he elected himself team captain and cobbled together a clutch of the gassiest, most malodorous misfits in Area 51–some of whom were actually runners.
The course is split into 36 legs, ranging from 2.5 to 10 miles and rated (arbitrarily, it seemed at times) by difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Hard, Very Hard, and Mountain Goat Hard. Each of our 12 man team would run three legs, with about 8 hours of rest in between. Six team members and their driver would the Active Van, while the remaining six members and their driver would be the Inactive Van, using the downtime for fueling, sleeping, and harvesting metal from anything not bolted down. The A51 Team was divided as such:
Van 1: Skywalker (driver); Pax in running order—Strange Brew, Stone Cold, Stage Coach, Field of Dreams, Baracus, Mall Cop.
Van 1 Pax at Starting Line. Lots of touching going on here.
Van 2: Donkey Kong (driver); Pax in running order—Tiger Rag, Turkey Leg, Mighty Mite, Bugeater, Purple Haze, 49er.
Fresh-smelling and spryVan 2 Pax at ABC Store. Hands to ourselves, like real men.(DK on camera).
The event meant different things to different people. Each of the pax describes the race in their own voice.
- Phenomenal event. I’ve been in F3 over a year now… by far the best event I’ve done with F3, and probably with any group of guys in the last 10 years.
- Great 1stF nearly overshadowed by the incredible 2ndF. This was a pain fest to be sure, but the camaraderie and the spirit of all the runners out there (especially with F3 having >10% of the field) made it feel like we’re all on a mission together. I’m not sure if our team was the most conditioned in the field, but I suspect we had made the most advancement in the weeks leading up than anyone out there. Especially Strange Brew, Mall Cop, Mighty Mite… incredibly impressive performances! Everyone’s dedication was inspiring and made it feel like we could have conquered anything together.
- Pulling into the first exchange zone, seeing the sea of vans, with many of them decked out with F3 flags, décor, etc. It was great seeing so many folks from the entire F3 nation, and catching up with several I hadn’t seen in months.
- Mall Cop coming in off his first leg: “are you sure that wasn’t a Mountain Goat?!?”
- DK “keeping busy” at EZ 12, dumpster diving and aggressively dismembering an electronic typewriter for spare parts. Was DK a Jawa in a previous life?
- T-claps to Bugeater ordering first at the restaurant Friday evening and setting a good example for us by keeping off his usual diet of beer and margaritas. Kept us all honest… I think most of us admitted that as soon as one person ordered a beer we would have all jumped in (with fervor). I suspect that would have certainly led to a downfall (esp on leg #20) and kept us from breaking 30hrs.
- Leg #20: Absolutely ridiculous, bring CSAUP to a new level.
- Exchange Zones: If you’ve never been on one of these relay races, you need to understand how these exchange zones work. In nearly every exchange zone, there is typically a parking lot next to a church or fire station with a sea of vans, and people hanging out in lounge chairs, sleeping under trees, playing ball, frisbee, an occasional game of cornhole, decorating vans, etc. all while cheering each other on with a “go girl!”, “yeah brother!” and the like. Lots of encouragement, hugging, etc. If you just substitute the vans with flower-painted VW microbuses and play Kumbaya, these exchange zones would be indistinguishable from a 1960’s-era hippie sit-in. However… it could not be more opposite of this scene coming into the exchange zone prior to leg 20 approaching 1am.
- · The Arrival: Approaching this exchange zone felt like hitting an LA traffic jam at midnight… a half mile away from the zone we were in stop-and-go van traffic. We got worried that I was going to miss Tiger rag flying by on the downhill leg 19, so Haze and Bugeater encouraged me to jump out of the van early to do a “run in” to the exchange zone. I made it there in plenty of time, but was greeted by a scary scene to say the least. Very limited parking (even by BRR standards) resulted in lots of traffic directing, yelling, and squeezing vans in around the edges of the fire station and all along the shoulders. It was a complete logjam of vans with police hopelessly trying to help. Could smell the exhaust fumes billowing around the zone and was subjected to a steady noise of rumbling vans idling and waiting. I swore I could hear DK gunning our van in park about a ¼ mile back from the zone in frustration.
- · There was certainly no kumbaya playing on anyone’s radio – in fact there wasn’t even any Jim Conti Rocky theme music playing. No – you this was more hardcore – Metallica, Enter Sandman and the like – and keeping it loud to drown out the vans.
- · You could tell the folks who had been here before. Not many smiles and very minimal chit-chat… these folks were ready for war. “Game face” doesn’t even begin to describe what I saw in the looks on some of these people’s faces… something in between the ruthless determination of Jason Bourne in full chase and pure primal rage. Lots of tape, braces, people tightening shoes, etc. No yoga-like slow stretches to warm-up, but more like an F3 warm-up with jump squats, SSHs, wall planks, and I may have even seen some burpees. Light words of encouragement were replaced by fist bumps, high-fives, and even some growls… and that was just from the women. I saw some guy strapping on two headlamps looking like KC daylighters (who I thought was looking goofy, but I learned why later). Someone else chugged a plastic bottle of water crushing it in their hand to speed the hydration and then spit ¼ of it out on the ground. These folks obviously knew what lay ahead in the darkness.
- · You could also tell who hadn’t been there before (like me), looking like deer in headlights anxiously wondering what we were in for on this leg. Heart was beating fast and adrenaline started flowing when Tiger Rag came flying down the hill from leg 19, dodging the morass of vans, handed off the bracelet and I was off. After about a quarter mile, I could still hear the faint din behind me, but it became eerily silent as I sped off on the flat first mile before the turn into the darkest forest in the blue ridge mountains.
- Started at 1am, so first of all, it was so dark that it makes Devil’s Turn seem like a mid-day trail run. Headlamp just lit up a small circle 10 feet in front of me and that was it – complete blackness everywhere else – it was the first time I think I’ve experienced true tunnel vision. Bizzare feeling and played tricks on the eyes – felt like the spot kept getting smaller and got worried that if my light went out I’d be doomed.
- Loneliest run of my life the first three miles – did not see another runner at all, but could just hear my breathing, heartbeat, lots of owls and other wildlife – and perhaps a banjo out in the distance, but I was quite O2 deprived so I may have been hallucinating. Finally caught up to another runner (walker) and we shared some profanity – not about each other, but about the leg itself and the organizers of this race for not labeling this one a goat.
- Got passed by a very fast older gentleman (or may have been an ostrich – hard to tell in the dark), who claimed he started at noon (2.5 hrs after us) and he had already passed 15 people on this leg. Told me to hang in there as there would be good downhill relief about 2 miles up near the end of the leg… but 2 miles felt so far away at that point I almost wanted to vomit. And then he trotted off into the darkness not to be seen again.
- Finally, I somehow made it to the top without spilling my insides or spilling myself off the side of a cliff. I became giddy practically flying down the hill at the end of the leg and almost rolling into the exchange zone, I was hollering for Mighty Mite on the approach… but not a single rep from A51 was anywhere to be seen. Did they roll off the edge of the hills? Did TR’s fumes turn the van into a gas chamber and knock the team unconscious? In any case, I rallied the motley crew of other runners and observers waiting at the exchange zone to start yelling “Mighty Mite” and “Area 51” in unison up the hill into the exchange zone. Within 40 seconds, Mighty Mite’s silhouette could be seen lumbering down the hill through the blackness and gloom. I’ve never been so happy to see another F3er.
- True profile of Leg 20 for reference (h/t OBT):
I don’t see what he’s complaining about. Looks pretty easy.
- Godspeed to whoever from Area 51 runs leg 20 next year… it won’t be Turkey Leg.
- 49er giving us a tour of his old stomping grounds as DK drove us through the town – seems like he knew this small town a little too well. What was up with that ghost train?
- Rookie mistake – trying to sleep in the vans after completing our graveyard shift – we should have gone straight to the next exchange zone and slept in padded church pews. Note for next year.
- Sleeping in a funky van after running multiple legs is near impossible… I tried to crawl under a seat to avoid the funk but to no avail. Woke up soon afterwards to see a blistered foot, then turned my head quickly and in the gloom I saw either 49er’s or Bugeater’s face staring down at me with wide eyes – I’m still not sure exactly who it was or what they saw, but it scared the hell out of me… I nearly got a cramp and realized my leg was completely immobilized between bags and the bench legs. Somehow I contorted my body in what probably looked like a seizure to wiggle out and stumble into the parking lot, shaking my leg. Don’t try this at home folks.
- Seeing an ultra team’s van (not F3) with lots of trash talking on the outside of their van… later in the race seeing a big note on the side of their van saying “Ultra… WTF were we thinking?”
- Leg 31: Baaaaah! The first goat… looks like Lombardi street in San Francisco, only steeper and longer. Lots of walkers on this one. Turkey Leg: “So TR, how much did you walk on Leg 31?”, Tiger Rag: “None”. #nuts! We’ll let TR tell the rest this story, but what was up with the love letters being exchanged with the female teams?
- Leg 32: Down-hills are not for sissies. Especially 9.5 miles on tired legs at –7% grade with half of it on gravel. Somehow the adrenaline got hold of me and I flew by 13 folks, without spilling once. Suffice to say, Mighty Mite was ready and waiting at the end on this one – ready to attack the steepest leg on the course – Leg 33.
- Jumping in the cold creek at the end of my last leg – unbelievably refreshing, felt like a 4-year old splashing around on a hot summer day.
- Seeing Haze crush leg 35, with a steep climb on the parkway, which arguably should be relabeled to “Very Hard”… It didn’t even look like he was sweating at the end. How does he do that?
- Leg 36: Asheville, 49er taking us in for the glory at the finish, with the rest of us right behind running in together. So much 2nd F afterwards, you would have thought we won the super bowl. Time for real cold beverage at last… “tastes so good when it hits your lips…”
- TR’s literary prowess is matched by that of his artistic abilities. He came prepared with cut out F3 stickers, reflective tape and a plan. He must have spent over 2 hours decorating our van. That alien head rocked, and I’m sure it will make another appearance at next year’s race… if not before.
The truth is out there…near the Spruce Pine Ghost Train. You want to believe….
- Seeing Mall Cop round the corner at the first TZ and hand off to TR is when it finally hit me…”it’s on!” That’s when I finally got the anxious feeling that I always get before a race. It’s an awesome rush and I couldn’t wait to compete in my first leg. Bad news was that I still had to wait for another 3+ hours.
- When I arrived at my first transition to hand off to Strange Brew I expected to see him there all jacked up and ready to go, however he was nowhere in sight. I kept yelling “Brew…Brew!!” and he finally popped out of the crowd apologized, grabbed the bracelet and took off. So when I was approaching my second transition I knew that Brew would be there and ready to go this time. Not so! Repeato of first transition… Brew was again nowhere in sight. Again me yelling “Brew…Brew…Brew!!” Finally I spot Brew running from the port-a-jons towards me. I handed the bracelet off and then Brew stood there and asked the race official “where do I go?” Me thinking….”what?!”. It all makes sense now that I know… “the rest of the story”. [Ed.: See Brew’s “fartsacking and naked” story below].
- Speaking of port-a-jons. It’s amazing what you can endure when you REALLY gotta go! #portajonroulette But none of the port-a-jons out there can compare to the unimaginably horrific port-a-jon that I experienced at a Nascar race years ago. I’m happy to tell van 1 all about over dinner sometime!
- Opening the door to a van of sleeping teammates after I finished my 2nd leg and the cloud of funk was just down right awful. It smelled like testosterone and $h!+! Even the dead skunk that we passed on our infamous journey toward Red Hill smelled better. Man was it dark out there! I never knew such darkness existed.
- Turkey Leg trying to sleep on the floor of the van… and yet he still crushed his third leg! Also, his fist pumping high as he finished his leg from h3ll about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Strong brother!
Turkey Leg unsuccessfully trying to find his happy place.
- Trying to sleep in the van… what were we thinking?!! Purple Haze after he and I shared the second row during our attempted sleep break after TZ 24.…”49er I was laying against your leg…but I didn’t guess it mattered.” And I thought I was spooning with the trash bag again. But hey if it helped you get some sleep PH then it’s ok with me. #takingonefortheteam Bugeater’s offer to spoon in the first row when unfilled. I missed the joke… what was he doing with his roller stick up there? TR rocking the van (literally) with his exhaust.
- Thanks Mighty Mite for getting me the granola bar as I started my first leg. My immediate thought when I noticed that you were handing it to me already unwrapped was of Bugeater lubing up with Vaseline before his run and hoping that you had not just done the same!
- Bugeater (aka.. the Happy Nebraskan) running in culottes and always smiling even while he was lying on his back in pain after just completing his last leg… still holding is iPhone…of course. And yes, there is a very strong chance that Bug got chicked by M Stone Cold. Bug admits to being chicked near the end of his 2nd leg. M Stone Cold was also runner #10 for her team and she finished that leg just ahead of Bug. Maybe Stone Cold can confirm before TR takes this to final print. [Ed.: Unofficially confirmed. Let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story.]
- Only TR can turn a mountain goat leg into a fun run. He definitely made an impression with the ladies on his MG leg. As was proof when a van full of females drove past us and they all yelled “we love your guy!” TR… F3 machine, literary genius, mountain goater, smooth playa.. Dude’s has it all!
- Sleeping in the choir loft of the church at TZ 31 to the sound of farts was surreal (I’m sure Haze and T Leg would agree) but definitely a gift from God as I desperately needed some sleep.
- Thanks to DK and Skywalker for driving. You guys have no idea how much it helped not having to worry about who was going to drive.
- The picture of us all crossing the finish line with you guys running behind me sums up what F3 is all about. We are a team. It took every one of us to cross the finish line and it’s because of F3 that we did and did it faster than 93 other teams. I did not see any of you guys as I approached the finish line. I could only hear people yelling “49er!”. My legs were screaming at me as I was demanding more… faster…faster. I was in “the zone”; the course was not marked well, and I almost ran past the final turn until someone yelled and pointed “no! turn that way!” My legs almost buckled as I turned. So I had no idea that you guys were running behind me. When I saw that picture for the first time I was blown away.
Someone tell 49er we cross the finish line as a team. #MeMonster
- Field of Dreams should be renamed Peppy Lepew after gassing Van 1 constantly for 30+ hours without even a single warning to prepare the rest of the team as to what was coming next. #CropDuster
- Brew’s wondering out loud if he could #Fartsack when being awoken to find out he was running his 2nd Leg in 5 minutes at 0420 Saturday.
- Mall Cop & Baracus may want to rethink their midnight refueling strategy next year #NoMoreHummus.
It was truly a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this team…from the training runs to the actual event, it was an amazing personal experience for me. The camaraderie out there was awesome. I think I tweeted this…but I will repeat it here: The handoffs were a key point for me, knowing that the guy coming in and passing the bracelet to you just ran his butt off for the team and that the guy you are handing the bracelet to at the end of your run is about to do the same…it was awesome being a part of a common goal and singular purpose.
As for the time out there, a couple of items to note:
- Bug coming in about 10-15 minutes ahead of our projection on his first run. I had been out stretching and just happened to be loitering close the cones when he just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, after a brutal 8+ mile stretch in the heat and the dust. I just yelled to the guys, “he’s here” and then took off. Strong start Bug!
- I was so excited during my first run that it took me a while to regulate my breathing because of the adrenaline coursing through me. All the guys waiting at the finish of my first leg bringing me to the line definitely told me that, despite the loneliness out on the course, we were in this thing together.
- 49er barreling into Blowing Rock after his first run, announcing he had amassed about 8 kills along the way.
- The excitement that TL had after destroying his early AM run (the ridiculous climb in the dark that should have been rated MG Hard). I have never seen him so pumped. It was contagious.
- In my early AM run, I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of me on the gravel road. As soon as we turned onto it, the lady right behind me exclaimed that she couldn’t see “$h!t” and slowed down considerably. I just hugged the inside hill as tight as I could and ran like I had clear sailing ahead.
- The Van 1 boys almost fartsacking. No return texts or CB calls…turns out it took our pulling up and almost having to knock on the van door to get them up and moving.
- TR’s MG Leg…just continuing to wind around as we drove ahead of him wondering how in the world will he (or anyone) do it. He made it up ahead of schedule and without walking any of it. Amazing! Turns out though…he was motivated more by 2 vans of ladies and less by his team waiting for him at the top.
- It took us forever to catch up to TL on his long downhill leg…we actually thought he might beat us the exchange zone.
- MM crushing his MG leg…pushing it hard until the exchange…barely able to stand when he finished because he had gone at it strong for the climb and the descent.
- My climb on 35 was physically (and perhaps psychologically) the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m better for having battled through it. When I blew by a guy down the stretch that had passed me on the hill, I knew I had played it right and it felt good. But I will be faster on it next time.
- 49er coming in hot and almost missing the sidewalk to the finish line.
- Seeing all the F3 vans and people at the first transition zone was incredible, especially the guys from Van 1 as they came in after having run their first legs.
- Bug’s pillow pet.
- The Van 2 sweat seat…how it stayed wet the entire trip and how awful it smelled.
- TR asking DK to drive “a little less aggressively”. He drove like we had a number on the side of our van and were qualifying for Indy. I would put DK up against any taxi driver I’ve ever ridden with…the man flat out got us around those mountains. And to put up with 6 guys yelling instructions and stinking pretty bad…well done DK!
- TR’s exclamation at the gas station bathroom stop to get out of his way and that he could crap “through a keyhole” at that moment. [Ed: TR actually said, “I could bend over and poop through a keyhole.” Lifted from a Larry the Cable Guy bit (see also: Poop Lasagna), but no less true at that moment.] TL went into that bathroom right after him…and I don’t think the man will ever recover from it. Probably woke up last night with some sort of Vietnam flashback.
- Passing the dead skunk on the road and the smell inside our van actually improving. Has a vehicle ever been ruled a total loss simply because of how it smelled on the inside? Good idea to get the insurance Skywalker!
- Sleeping in the church pew…waking to hear some guy farting. I remember the Southern Baptist in me thinking that you really shouldn’t fart out loud in church, whether there’s a service going on or not.
- The high fives, picture and ball of man at the end. I was proud to be a part of such a strong group of men.
The impact of something labeled CSAUP was profound…so much so that it was neither CS nor UP for me.
- Stagecoach and van 1 pulled into first transition zone.
“Fresh. Air. I need fresh air”
- Niner wedged on van floor in the middle of night. Anything to stretch the legs and get under the vapor cloud.
- Turkey Leg climbing leg 20 in the middle of the night was one amazing feat! And the ‘oh i got this’ look on his face while speeding down the 9.5 mile leg 32 in 6+ per mile pace.
Turkey Leg puts a wrap on Leg 32.
- Stone Colds reply when asked how his evening 10-mile grandfather mountain leg was, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
- Tiger Rag spending over an hour of his wait time making the window alien for van 2.
Donkey Kong spending over an hour of his wait time taking apart an old word processor he found in a garbage can.
Flight of the Conchords singer salvaging metal. “Ah, yeah. You know what time it is: it’s Business Time.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Overheard exchange between Bug and DK, just after this picture was taken:
Bug: “What do you do with this stuff? Does your wife let you bring it home? Do you make it worth her while? Are you a TOTAL LUNATIC or something?”
DK: “Sir, if you are going to patronize me, you are going to have to come stronger than that weak stuff.
Bug: “No, I meant do you make her nice stuff for her with it? Jewelry or something?”
Bug: [sheepishly] “Well, if it’s not spoken for then, will you make me a nice broach that solenoid?”
- 49ers horror story about the porta-Jon filled to the rim but still “usable”. the kicker is the story was told at our dinner table Saturday evening. #reallydude? [Ed: That we made it all the way to dinner without a poop joke is the real story here. That horse would not go back into the barn for the remainder of the race…]
- Niner looking over the seat in the middle of a sleep deprived night and saying “what are we doing bug?”
- Mighty Mite’s mad rush to the start line upon learning of Turkey Leg’s blazing run up leg 20 to return way ahead of schedule.
- Mite posing for his mountain goat pre game. #beast
Thank you for not letting me wear my hiking boots on Leg 33.
- Tiger Rag’s fanfare while conquering the mountain goat 31st leg. TR Rocking leg 7:
TR so fast, he’s outrunning support vehicles on one leg.
- Haze conquering his third leg in the high heat after a monster climb that appears a re-rating worthy “very hard”.
Haze, right after Leg 35 and just before he took a swing at Bug: “Get that bleepity-bleep thing out of my face before I shove it up your six!” #TempersFlare. Bald guys are mean.
- 49er showing true grit bringing home the glory leg.
- I have had a few days to reflect on the BRR experience, let my legs regain feeling, and think Haze has hit on a point that is incredibly cool. In fact I have thought about it since he said it. I will attempt to build on his great foundation. I have to say that knowing that we were each out there fighting our own battles knowing it was for the team and that there was a teammate on the other end waiting to go fight his battle for the team is a powerful thing. Every one of us had to dig deep down when our bodies, legs, and lungs were screaming for us to stop, but we had to keep moving through the pain, to the point of “all heart baby”. We laid it all out there, to win our battles, one stride at a time, for the sake of the team. I personally liked the motley crew aspect of our team. Varying levels of athleticism, running ability, training level, and form, all united to conquer these mountains and achieve our goal of sub-30 hours. Just listening to these awesome recounts and funny side stories makes it all worth it. But there is more. The camaraderie and friendship is exactly why I made the decision months ago to give more to F3. The more I have given, the more I have gotten back. We have trained together, pushed each other, and we have all improved our health, mind, and heart for it. It took phenomenal performances and courage by everyone of us to make this goal a reality. They came at different times, on different legs, but we all came to play and we all delivered. We had to, because we knew the team depended on us, and needed our best. Dig down, true grit style, we did. We conquered these mountains, for the betterment of the team – and we personally became better for it. That is the power of the Blue Ridge Relays, and an extension of the power of F3. CSAUP has a way of tapping into the 3rd F, because it forces us to do things that are not normal and forces us out of our comfortable and natural element and into a place that requires faith. I went to that place. Although my body was craving sleep my mind was inspired after watching Turkey Leg destroy his 1:00 AM leg 20. I laced up my shoes knowing Mighty Mite was out in his darkness looking for Bugeater. I took the bracelet from Mite at 2:19 AM and began my run into the darkness. I had to dig deep down in that Saturday twilight in the foggy pitch black gloom running seemingly all alone along a mountainside with the loud sound of water powerfully rushing on one side. I had to turn my head lamp to its lowest setting and point it up in the air due to the thick fog causing otherwise zero visibility. This made it even darker and I had to turn to thoughts of family, friends, and God to guide me forward. I recall praying I was not lost, thinking that I just wanted to get back to my team, just wanted to get back to Haze, knowing that at the end of this loneliest of stretches Haze would be there awaiting his hand off for his battle. Haze was there, ready for the hand off. Just as I envisioned and kept moving for. I believe the 1st F keeps us healthy and able, the 2nd F keeps us laughing and together, and the 3rd F is that spiritual thing those of us lucky enough get to experience as it builds our character and leads us to living with higher purpose. We all matter man. We all make a difference. We are all part of something. That is truly powerful. When I started F3 on August 11, 2012, I came to prepare for a Mud Run with Mall Cop. What I have gotten in return is life changing. You are a great band of brothers and to answer 49er’s question he threw over my seat in the twilight hours coming around the mountains “What are we doing Bug?” I think we all have the answer…I’m all in for next year…
If anyone thinks they can’t do this, they’re wrong. 1 year ago I hadn’t run 1 mile contiguously [Ed: he means “continuously”. He’s from Canada and still learning the language. Cut him some slack, eh?] and I just ran 15 miles in under 24 hours thanks to the hard training, encouragement from the pax and teamwork on the relay, it was an absolutely blast, there is nobody out there that worked harder than anyone else, there is no doubt some of the legs were much more difficult than others but the beauty of the team is that you could structure a challenge for everyone while having a wide variety of skills on the team. This event embodies the F3 idea that it isn’t about you, it is about everyone else:
- Mall Cop running his third leg hurting from more or less everywhere that is important to running, running anyway and finishing with a smile on his face
- Getting woken up by someone pounding on the van, telling me 49 er was probably waiting at the exchange point, changing as fast as possible outside the van, then after running the leg being asked if I knew there were women behind me as I changed, the way I saw it was that if they liked what they saw they could keep watching and if not then look away, I’ll admit that I wondered out loud if fartsacking was a part of the relay, turns out that it isn’t
- Absolutely selfless driving and effort by Skywalker, perhaps DK would win the van race but I suspect Skywalker averaged the best parking spots, not sure how he did it but we always had a front row seat
- Grabbing a coffee and monstrous breakfast after van 1’s 3 legs, only to have someone tell me after that if anyone gets hurt I need to run again…I’d have been ready…to merlot
- Watching Stone Cold run a terrible looking leg, on the gravel, in the sun, with dust in the air (from all the vans), and cranking off a good time, seeing Mall Cop beat the heck out of his second leg, watching the van try to catch Stage Coach on his 2.2 mile leg and then almost missing our chance to cheer him on during his lifelong longest run to date, watching Baracus run up to his last exchange point with a look that said…I just killed that leg, I’ll kill someone else if they get in my way while I’m at it, watching FOD flying down the road with almost perfect running posture, to later declare that he isn’t much of a runner, yeah right
I could ramble on, but will cap it at that, I had a phenomenal experience because of the other 13 guys on the team.
My personal thoughts on the event are as follows:
I was very hesitant to sign up for the BRR not being a runner so I didn’t. However I was tempted at least. As the team was formed I thought I could at least put my name down as an alternate in case they got desperate enough to need me (frankly, forgetting that in F3 it doesn’t work that way). As it happened, MC asked me if I wanted to run as a spot had opened up and I realized I had to put my money where my mouth was and said yes. I then realized that not having run more than 4.5 miles at once and never two days in a row (never mind more than once in a day) I’d have to step up the running training which in partial thanks to Fast Twitch [Ed: In your face, Bagpipe!] I did. I trained as best I could, even running while on work trips and vacation (something I probably wouldn’t normally do) because this is a team event and the team relies on everyone. I never once heard, even under someone’s breath or saw a raised eyebrow or anything like that when my teammates heard I was joining the team, quite the opposite, again, F3 embodiment to the max. There are some extremely strong runners on this team, who could have easily demurred about Strange Brew joining a running team but instead welcomed me and helped to push me throughout the training. When I ran my first leg down the hill at a 7:41 average pace I was ecstatic (although finished second last of all the runners I started with) and so was everyone else waiting for me with a water and gatorade in hand, that’s when I knew this event was going to be another special life experience. I’m not going to make more of it than it was but the 1st F is obvious, the 2nd F was real, some of what I thought at the time was 3rd F was probably O2 and sleep dep hallucinations so I may discount that. Thank you Stone Cold, Stage Coach, Field of Dreams, Baracus, Mall Cop, Tiger Rag, Turkey Leg, Mighty Mite, Bugeater, Purple Haze and 49 er, Skywalker (I know how much you wanted to be out there) and Donkey Kong for the experience. I am up for next year, would like to try to step up to a slightly more difficult spot and be even more challenged.
This was both a blast and challenging for me this year and I want to see how much faster I can run with this last 20 lbs off of me and one year of training for the event under my belt. I’m determined to become a lean thoroughbred runner this year!
I also hate that I had to run my 3rd leg in pain. I felt great on my first leg and half way through my second leg, but in the final 2 mile descent I started feeling my ankle and arch of my right foot that I tweaked 3 weeks ago on the long Sun morning training run. I didn’t want to alarm anyone though and just gutted out my 3rd leg Sat morning. It was so surreal because it was a cool misty morning and just as Baracus handed off to me the sun burned through the fog and revealed the most beautiful scenery for a morning run that God could have provided. I wanted to put my head down and run forward with everything I had, I intended on having a PR on that last 4.5 miles but about a quarter of a mile in my ankle just screamed at me that today wasn’t going to be that day. I just had to bear it and gut it out to the handoff to TR. It was a major disappointment for me in one way, but bitter sweet still as I had 3 kills (that weren’t women) on that last leg. I feel like I can pickup 15 to 20 mins next year.
Thanks for going on this adventure with me this weekend as it was a major accomplishment for me as this was the first official race I have run as an adult. Back at the first of the year I asked myself what was the most #CSAUP thing I could do, and I thought #BRR. There wasn’t a team formed yet from Area51 so I talked about it with Skywalker after coffeetiria one Sat. Thank you for pushing me to do this and for your selfless act of driving van 1 while yearning to be on the course yourself. It showed class, leadership, but beyond anything else true friendship!
I also want to thank TR because I’ve never acknowledged to him how big of a factor that he has played in helping me have the courage and determination to keep posting when I first came out to F3 as a 245 lb man. His words of encouragement and the knowledge that he once weighed 317 was a huge factor and I’m very grateful! [Ed.: You had to say “huge” didn’t you? TR is grateful his past exuberant gluttony could be of service.] Thanks to everyone else for your part as well, as like Brew I could go on and on but I’ll stop here! This was a blast and I can’t wait until next year!
It was a true pleasure and honor to be on the A51 team for this event. And what an event it was! The 1st and 2nd F were just flat out (poor choice of words) awesome.
I enjoyed every minute of it, well, ok maybe there were a few moments that were not as enjoyable as others:
- Leg 14: The 10 miles of winding, never-ending, uphill asphalt at 10pm on Friday night, they referred to as Grandfather Mountain. I’m starting to be able to talk about it now, Bug.
- The Kenyan or whatever he was, that passed me on that road like I was standing still. #prizemoneychaser
- Nash passing me right after the Kenyan. #no2ndF
- Trying to sleep on the van seat between, The Bear (MallCop) and The Count (Stage Coach), both can snore and sound equally different and annoying!
- Waking up at 4am or so and wondering when Brew might need to start getting ready….then….
- Van 2, “Hello! 49er will be here in 3 mins.” Brew: “I wonder if I can fartsack this one?” DK: “Sir, what can I do to help you get ready?”
- FOD’s smoke bombs and Skywalker’s simple plea for just a warning.
- That nasty lil miniature pincher dog that almost bit my ankle on leg 1.
Some other noteworthy memories:
- Brew barreling down the mountain on his first leg, strong and fast. The exchanges with Brew were awesome. Always the encourager.
- Skywalker’s endless supply of Red Man that kept him awake at times. Thank again for driving us around and your awesome support. Felt safe and sound the whole time.
Old people drive slowly and, as seen here, suffer from Sudden Onset Napping. Van 1 had the left turn blinker on the whole race.
- Coach almost beating the van down Grandfather during leg 15, he may have had those shoes with the wheels underneath. #multiplekills
- The look in Baracus’ eyes when he finished his first, second, and third leg…the man was possessed with intensity.
A man possessed with intensity. Don’t make eye contact: it’s a sign of aggression.
- Mall Cop’s pure determination. I could tell something was up but he was not going to let anyone hear about it. He just powered through and did awesome.
- Stage Coache’s last leg (his 9 miler, longest he has ever run w/o stopping) where he somehow managed to find a companion (female) to run with, although she was not with him at the end. #kill?
- Field of Dreams (for “not being a runner”) he sure did have great form and was just so solid the whole trip, his runs seemed like another day at the office for him.
- Skywalker is a Foodie (self-admitted); Peppers in Boone is good, just should have ordered and forced down more calories. I ran out later that night.
- Bubba’s Good Eats was rated a 2 on Yelp but tasted like a 5 star restaurant to some of us after Van1 completed that final leg.
- Meeting up with Van 1 at the first big exchange point, was great to see the rest of our team!
- Being (sort of) challenged by the 9-man Isotope team at the start line. All in good fun!
- Spackler’s F3 flag that doubled at a sun shade for Van 1. I guess we stopped putting it out when the sun went down.
- Seeing the F3 Ultra team come in around 5pm as I waited for my wife’s team to finish. Those guys are incredible. They were exhausted but all had smiles on their faces. Our boys from the south, Haggis and Dolphin, looked like they were ready for another 100 miles. Congrats to them!
These are just a few of my memories from the weekend. It was a special time just like GoRuck where we learned how we can push ourselves and persevere. So thankful to have enjoyed it with you gentlemen. Until the next CSAUP.
F3 has meant a tremendous amount to me in the last year. Each of the 3 F’s has made a big impact on my life, and I’m truly honored to be surrounded by men with like goals and desires in life. F3 continues to be a great influence on my life and my boys’ lives as they have become involved. Iron sharpens iron. I could not imagine running the Blue Ridge Relay any other way than F3 style. There were elements of personal challenges within a team event. While pushing yourself toward your own goals, the goals of your team also pushed you. Thanks to all my teammates for letting me be a part of the fun! I can’t wait until next year.
Memories from the BRR:
- The training leading up to the BRR seems to bring everyone together even before the race. Teamwork was evident as faster guys doubled back to run with slower guys.
- The selfless commitment by Skywalker and DK to drive our sweaty, stinky butts around for 2 days.
- Strange Brew’s PR on his first leg.
- Adrenaline rush I felt before the first leg. I think we all felt that same rush prior to all runs, but especially the first one.
- Rounding the final curve on my first leg to see the shovel flag up ahead. I knew that meant the end was in sight, but more importantly that FOD was there to pick up where I stop.
- Meeting up with van 2 for the first time was awesome. They were all jacked up and ready to roll.
- The rotating navigators, and how FOD got fired as a navigator on the way up to Virginia. We should have learned from that, but we let FOD find the shortcut to Todd. We ended up on a back-country gravel road lined with mobile homes and still FOD insisted that Todd was a ¼ mile up on the left. Needless to say, we never found Todd, or at least the one we were looking for.
- Lunch at Pepper’s in Boone. Despite the disappointment in learning that pasta would not be served until 2 hours later, the food and fellowship was terrific. This is also where we learned a new word as Mall Cop requested water with lime instead of lemon…said the lemon would mess up his alkalinity. You bet he got clowned for that one. Wikipedia says: “Alkalinity is the name given to the quantitative capacity of water to neutralize an acid.”
- I remember reading or hearing updates from van 2 and feeling astonishment at how they were crushing 1 leg at a time. Each of them were tearing up the course: TR, Turkey Leg, Mighty Might, Bugeater, Purple Haze, and 49er.
- Stone Cold’s sleeping bag was so compact, I thought “How’s he gonna fit in that toddler size sleeping bag?”.
- Bugeater’s calf cramp after his first leg…and how like 4-5 guys jumped up to get him some water and a roller. Not on massaging Bug’s calf. Don’t point your toes, Bug.
- Seeing Purple Haze coming up the final ascent on leg 11. The guy was absolutely spent as he gave everything he had.
- Strange Brew giving so much on leg two that he staggered off the road after passing the baton to Stone Cold.
- Stone Cold’s seemingly endless 10 mile run up Grandfather Mountain. I was tired after riding in the van up that mountain. That dude is strong!
- Setting a PR on my 2.2 mile downhill sprint – one where the momentum just carried me or else I’d roll down the mountain. I remember passing a guy and encouraging him. His response: “This is a cool down for me since my van decided not to pick me up at the last exchange zone (following the 10 miler up Grandfather Mountain).” #NotCool
- The picture of Donkey Kong dismantling an electric typewriter he found in the dumpster. Wish I seen that in person.
- After seeing its effects on Baracus, I remember thinking I’m glad I don’t really like hummus.
- Strange Brew’s near fartsack of leg 25. That was hilarious!
- The sleep deprivation catching up with me prior to my 9 miler at 0500 Sat. morning and thinking I can’t do this. More than that, I remember Skywalker, Mall Cop, Field of Dreams, Baracus and Strange Brew each giving me encouraging words to know I could do this. Stone Cold reiterated that as he handled me the bracelet.
- My van mates passing and waiting for me at 3 spots along the way during my long run. That encouragement meant the world to me!
- The heckling I got from van 1 for finding a lady friend on that long run. Hey, she had a GPS watch so I stuck with her to track my mileage for awhile.
- Field of Dreams cruising right along on his final leg. Looked so effortless, like he could run another 3 legs!
- Baracus’ sweat being flung on me as he ripped his headlamp off after leg 29. #gross
- Mall Cop gutting it out on his final leg, even though he was not feeling 100%
- Seeing Tiger Rag before he ran his MG leg. He was so amped up, he looked like he could have run thru the mountain.[Ed: Full disclosure: TR had to go potty.]
- The breakfast feast at Bubba’s in Burnsville. Sharing a meal with the guys you just gave it all for was really cool.
- 49er turning the corner toward finish line, and how he almost missed the turn
- The sight of the entire team and drivers running the last 50 yards behind 49er to the finish line.
- The designated sweat seat area. Glad we had insurance on the van!
- The look of pure accomplishment and exhaustion on each person’s face as we enjoyed a cold one at Pack’s Brewery
- Everyone pushed themselves to the limits in some way. Everyone had difficult legs…there was no hiding from the mountains.
- Total ascent 20,000 feet, total descent 22,000 feet
- Port-a-john nightmares – no way to avoid them
- Meeting some other brothers across F3 nation, esp. from Columbia, Raleigh and Isotope
- Team finishing in a total time of 29 hours and 39 minutes. That beat our estimated completion time by nearly 1 ½ hours and beat our team goal of 30 hours.
Field of Dreams
As a somewhat newcomer to the Southies, I am overwhelmed at the fellowship and how you all pulled me into the team. Going in, I had the regret of not making more training runs and workouts to get to know you guys better. Now I realize that there is always something more to realize from F3. Best experience to date, and the reward is my A51 Brothers.
I’ll never forget that dark drive up Grandfather Mountain thinking if Stone Cold can grind this out, I can always dig deeper. A truly inspiring team of men.
Thank you all, Van 1 and Van 2. Long live the alien looking masterpiece!
As I’ve been reading all of your reflections from the BRR, I find myself saying “Yes! Me too!” The BRR was a unique experience for me in that it was the first time I’ve done a CSAUP event like this, but in many ways my experience was just like what each of you has described. To me that is validation of the camaraderie I felt, the fellowship I enjoyed, but most importantly the experience of being part of something much bigger than me. F3 has been, and continues to be life-changing since my first workout at Skunkworks on 11/14/12. And to Bug’s point it makes me want to give more, and being a part of this event with all of you men was a great next step for me.
I had high expectations for the experience of this event. It completely blew them away and left me wanting for more! Here are a few of the memories I took away:
- Training – Awesome how the event brought us together as a team to prepare. From Fast Twitch, takeovers at Devil’s Turn, running into workouts, and extra credit runs throughout the week, it was clear that the entire team was focused on preparing themselves for the challenge.
- Packing – How could we possibly need so much gear for a little jog in the mountains? With the pile of stuff we brought with us, one would think we were going camping in the wilderness for a week!
- Decorating the van – Mall Cop brought the reflective tape and got started. With limited tape, he opted to identify us with A51. He discovered it isn’t easy to write letters and numbers with tape as he formed what looked like “Ass 1”.
- My first run on Leg 5 – The adrenaline coursing through me as I watched FOD flying toward the exchange zone finishing leg 4. I took off at a pace that I found out was unsustainable about a mile down the road and I paid for it when I hit the steep climb during mile 3. The temperature was around 80, but it felt much hotter in the thin air as the sun was peaking in the sky. As I was making the mile long, 5-7% grade near the end of the leg I thought to myself “OK, there are some hills in Charlotte, but nothing even remotely like this.” This leg is “moderate”? Are you kidding???
- First transition period- After turning the bracelet over to Van 2, we opted to drive into town for a bite to eat. FOD pulled up directions on his GPS to what we thought was the closest town, Todd. Minutes later we found ourselves driving down a narrow dirt road into a neighborhood of single-wides on the side of a mountain. We were fairly certain the FOD has led us astray, but FOD assured us that ‘Todd in fact does live down here somewhere.’ #GPSmalfunction #usererror
- Enjoyed lunch at Peppers Bar & Grill in Boone, where we discovered that our server was a roller derby girl by night…by the name “Rollie Cannoli”. Turns out she knows Runstopper’s wife Genea! The world of roller derby is small!
- We all tried to sleep at TZ11, in the grass in broad daylight. Didn’t really work for most of us, but Skywalker was sawing some lumber! Glad our driver was able to get some rest. Thanks again Skywalker and DK for driving!
- It was inspiring watching Brew come in to EZ13. He had just completed his most difficult leg and it was obvious he had given it everything he had. Momentarily I was concerned that Brew was going to collapse from exhaustion. The guy doesn’t quit, and you know he is always pushing himself to his limits for his team!
- Leg 14 – The very next leg was Stone Cold climbing 10 miles up Grandfather Mountain. As we drove up I was in complete disbelief that anyone would run up this mountain. What it lacks in Mountain Goat steepness it makes up for in length. Stonecold’s response when asked how it was…”it sucked!” He killed it!
- Leg 17 was my next “moderate” difficulty leg (ha!). I ran by one of my turns, but fortunately a van just behind me got my attention and I was back on track. Then I headed up the mountain to experience utter loneliness and complete darkness, only seeing what my headlamp pointed at. The occasional van would pass and I would pay special attention to the taillights to see when it crested the hill. It was euphoria when I crested the mountain after 2 miles and had nothing but downhill for the last mile. It gave me new life and I’m sure I must have made up significant time lost from the climb. I was so pumped when I reached the EZ that I pretty much threw the bracelet at Mall Cop and almost ran over a couple of bystanders.
- Next transition period – Up to this point of the event I had no luck “getting things moving”. I’m starting to question whether I should continue to eat – where is it going to go? After handing off to Van 2 again, we found our next refueling stop at an Ingles grocery store. This is where I made a terrible mistake with Mall Cop – the sandwiches and potato salads looked like they had sat for hours…so we opted against those and decided to go for some pretzel crisps and hummus. Turns out hummus is natural laxative. I paid a steep price the next morning during leg 29. Not only did I have to peel off behind a building for a whiz on my way into Burnsville, but starting at mile 3 the hummus began to work. For four miles solid miles I fought it off and at points I worried that a wrong step or a jolt would result in disaster. Interestingly enough this was my best leg of the three and I accumulated 9 kills along the way. Extra motivation? The last quarter mile was amazing. I could see and hear my teammates yelling “Baracus” and I found the extra gear to sprint for the finish. It felt great!!
- When we pulled in to TZ30 to meet van 2, I don’t think Skywalker had even put the van in park before I hit the ground running for the port-o-john. FOD was next in line after I exited, and was stunned by what he found. It wasn’t me FOD! Unfortunately the hummus effect lingered with me throughout the day and night on Saturday. #neveragain
I’m in again for next year! It was an amazing experience with plenty of physical challenges and even more great fellowship. Thanks guys for letting me be a part of it!
I think everything has pretty much been said. Although at the last exchange zone while everyone was up at the check-in point, I was sitting in the van and witnessed a woman squat down, expose her rear end, and urinate 10 yards in front of me. She thought she was being slick by stepping around the other side of an open car door, but didn’t realize the car door was still 16-18 inches off the ground. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at, then it hit me. Classy stuff out there, ladies. #fullmoon
I used to consider myself a runner. Used to put in 40+ miles a week around the Booty Loop and surrounding terrain but I grew to hate it–not, as I’ve learned in retrospect, because of the physical act but because of the attendant #sadclown issues running was meant to exorcise. And so–years after giving up running– it pained me to hear a comment from Dredd re the BRR: “It’s the one #CSAUP event that we do that I would not miss. Because of the fellowship.” With that testimony, I knew I was going to be a runner again.
When you spend 36 hours in a van with 6 guys, you notice things. Here are some things I noticed:
There are many more “had to be there” observations that point to the obvious conclusion from all this: You have to be there. Dredd is right and, Lord willing, I won’t miss another one. You shouldn’t either.