Last weekend I participated in my first running relay! What an adventure living in a van for 37 hours with 5 fellow runners. The Blue Ridge Relay relay starts in Grayson Highlands State Park,VA (near the base of Mount Rogers- VA hightest peak) and ends 212 miles later in Asheville, NC! (the mileage varies year to year due to course adjustments)
I joined the 12 persons Designated Drinkers Team, an established relay team who have run the BRR year after year. Last year, The Legend of the Space Goat was formed. The history of the Space Goat is cloudy at best…the only thing we know for sure is the name morphed out of the description of two of the hardest running legs that are famously deemed “Mountain Goat Hard“. In 2012 we kept the legend alive with our “alter ego” The Space Goats. Like Superman, the Space Goats appear out of nowhere perform good deeds, BAAAA, and usually leave without a trace. Most never knew they encountered The Space Goats….while others only knew by the “Space Goat Tag” on their van.
Meet the Space Goats of Van 2
Here is my pictorial recap of an awesome running adventure
Sara (van 1) kicked off the relay for us at 10am Friday at Grayson Highlands State Park in VA. Sara also earned accolades for assisting fellow space goats with various aliments. Melinda’s GI stress and Dave’s two dog bite attack. Thanks Sara for keeping Melinda and Dave in the mix. (update…the wonderful BRR Directors were able to locate the dogs and confirm they were current on their rabies shots. No Rabies shots for Dave!)
As Van 1 ran the first 6 legs of our relay we (Van 2) headed to exchange area 6 Bald Mountain Baptist Church, West Jefferson , NC. On the way TheSpace Goats were called to action when fellow runners of TEAM 621 Ninga were in need. The Ninga’s van was stuck in the culvert along a winding mountain dirt road. While our goat strength was not enough to free the van, luckily they were assisted by a very kind local resident ( ” people of the woods encounter 1″) who attempted to pull them out. Unfortunately, they had to go to plan C and call a tow truck. The Space Goats, transported Team 621 Ninga’s next two runners to the next exchange. Apparently, this was most helpful since Team 621 Ninga came in 9th out of 141 teams! Way to go Ninga’s.
11:00am with one save under our belt and time to kill we took the opportunity to find some food. Our Male van mates ensured we never missed an eating opportunity, THANKS. We enjoyed some really yummy pizza in Jefferson, NC at Pizza Plus the home of .30 cent Pizza! Not only was the pizza good but we were thoroughly entertained by “People of the woods encounter 2” Tommy and Chelsea. They were the nicest, simplest people who were very excited to share the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with a bunch of running city slickers! Tommy talked our ears off. We found a fast friend in Tommy and a “moonshine” hook-up. While we passed on the moonshine, we were sure glad to have Tommy on our side.
Pizza Plus, in true Space Goat fashion, offered a much needed electrical outlet, for our very own lactating BAD ASS MOTHER RUNNER Melissa “MAAA MAAA Goat”. Deamed Bad Ass for just signing up to live in a van, run while lactating, a sheer 7 months after giving birth to her second child. Simply Amazing! Did I mention she forgot her battery pack for her breast-pump and remained completely calm (hence the need for the electrical outlet). Luckily, a fellow space goat from the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2, continuing the Space Goat saves theme, just happened to have an extra ac/dc adapter so now she could pump while we rolled down the road. No pumping and dumping here! She was able to store the ‘liquid gold” in our cooler. Had Lance Armstrong been with us I am sure he might have partook (cheap shot…but I hear he ate breast milk ice cream as part of his performance enhancing rituals) Melissa was my 1st recruit to the Another Mother Run club!
When we finally arrived at exchange area 6, with hours to kill, we tagged a few vans,
got tagged, “doubled it down”, and played a mind expanding time killer game we learned from Laura “Most Talkative Goat” called F*#k, Save, Kill. (did I mention we were in a parking lot of a Baptist Church)
Laura claims its a well know bar game, but none of us had heard of it. It was very entertaining and we certainly entertained the teams around us.
Finally it was time for Van 2 to Run! Mark Cox, our amazing Team Captain, ran it in
and passed along the BRR arm band to Van 2 runner # 7 Melissa “Maaaa Maaaa Goat”.
The early afternoon brought temperatures in the 80’s along with the famous humidity of NC. While temps in the 80’s were not ideal we were fortunate it was not as hot as it had been the week prior with temps in the 90’s. The Space Goats were prepared with lots of cold water, gatoraide, Nuun tablets, Rusty’s stash, and ice cold disposable towels. In true Space Goat fashion we shared our water and towels with fellow runners struggling along the course. All were appreciative and we are confident we got one struggling girl, in tears, safely to the next exchange.
“MAAA MAA Goat” rocked her run!
Melissa despite the heat had a great run and passed off the BRR band to runner #8 Laura “Most Talkative Goat”. Laura in an Olympic frame of mind smoked her run and blamed her faster than planned pace on “getting caught up in the Gold or Silver moment”
Next up was runner #9! Melinda “Quiet Killer Goat” survived 37 hours with her VERY obnoxious and loud van mates, fought off stomach issues, and quietly slayed all of her runs. One of which was Mountain Goat Hard! She was our secret weapon…quiet yet deadly. She even claimed a kill (no animals were harmed) on her last leg and adorned a feather as her prize! Melinda, Bad Ass Mother Runner, and my second recruit to the Another Mother Runner Club!
Testosterone time, as runner #10 John “Life Saving Goat” finally hit the street. We are so proud of our fellow Space Goat John who assisted a fellow runner who collapsed from heat related issues a mile from the next exchange. John quickly came to his aid, flagged down passerby for help ( who happened to have ice in their car), iced his wrist, neck and elevated his feet. John stayed with the unresponsive runner until medical assistance arrived. John you are amazing! We are so proud of you! “Space Goats Save Lives”
Patiently waiting at exchange 11, we got word from a fellow runner that John was delayed due to assisting a runner. Next up was Runner #11 (me) Jenn “2nd Most Talkative Goat”.
I was setting off for the first official leg on the beautiful, historic Blue Ridge Parkway. Fortunately for me, temperatures dropped rapidly and cooled off nicely….I was set up for an awesome run!
Runner #11, Rusty “Beer Goat” , whose favorite carbs come from a can, was fired up and donned in his run kilt ready for action! Not only do Space Goats save lives but we ” never sacrifice fashion”
Rusty finished strong and transitioned us into and extended break where we gassed up the van and grabbed some FOOD. Next on the agenda was SLEEP! I am unsure if anyone slept but we did get 2 hours of REST at Newland, NC Post Office exchange. 1:00 am arrived faster than we desired but the Space Goats were ready for our night runs!
Our night runs were peaceful and quiet. Continuing the supportive nature of being a Space Goat we voluntarily accompanied our night runners so nobody had to run alone. “MAA MAA goat” ran 3 accompanying night legs displaying true Space Goat Spirt and badassness (ok it is not a word but you get it). Our goat calls “BAAAAAAAAA” were most helpful at night to identify our runners approaching exchange zones. Near dawn John “Life Saving Goat” had a not so pleasant “people of the woods encounter 3”. This poor resident was not very happy with the noise the relay participants that had kept her up during the night. John, a gracious southern gentleman, apologized on behalf of the participants of the Blue Ridge Relay. Courteous Space Goats!
7:00am ish- Night legs done we headed to the final team exhange zone at a Baptist
Church in Barnardsville, NC. These church members rolled out the red carpet and welcomed runners with a hot pancake breakfast, real bathrooms, tent for sleeping, or better yet a padded church pew for sleeping. These people were simply amazing and hospitable! THANK YOU! We fueled up, and got some rest. Some got sleep, I got 2 hrs of REST. Most Space Goats chose the padded church pew, one lone goat, skipped the food and went straight to the tent for sleep. She had the tent all to herself. Clearly, the quietest she had been in 24 hrs.
Saturday morning brought drizzle, sporadic down pours, and cooler temps. Awesome running weather. Van 1, had endured much excitement during the night assisting the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2? with locked keys in their van, and Dave’s dog attack. Two dogs attacked and bite Dave. Fueled with Space Goat awesomeness…..he outran them. Way to go Dave! Feeling giddy, our van mates pranked incoming runner and Team Captain, Mark Cox, by lifting the hood of the van faking a breakdown. If only I had captured, Marks expression as he ran by. 🙂
Van 2 was off, as Melissa ran the hardest leg of all a Mountain Goat hard 6.5 mile climb! Delirious The Space Goats cheered and entertained all runners on the mountain goat leg. We were thrilled to have fellow Ultra Team runner Hazel to cheer! Things got a little crazy as we entertained! We are sure that we made a difference for all the runners out there. We certainly had fun doing it. Scenes from Mountain Goat leg….
Melissa “MAA MAA Goat” slayed her run and passed 4 runners! Amazing! Way to go to MAA MAAA! Next we sent Laura “Most Talkative Goat” off on her dream run…9 miles down hill where she maintained a 7:30 pace! Melinda “Quite Killer Goat” ran strong on the 2nd Mountain Goat leg and finished strong with a super huge smile of accomplishment and a prize!
John was off and endured torrential rain and cold temps. Luckily it was his shortest run of the relay and he was able to burn it out!
I was off for my last leg once again on the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 4.2 miles but the first 2 were all uphill! I endured, with the finsh line on my mind and burned it out and passed the BRR band to Rusty for the 6.6 mile Glory leg!
We quickly made out way to the finish line to greet Rusty! Rusty brought us in strong in the pouring rain and cold! Designated Drinkers a.k.a Space Goats finished Saturday 5:56pm with the official time of 31hours and 56 minutes! Average pace per mile 9:05, 95th of 141 teams!
While we did not capture an official title, we are ALL WINNERS for SURVIVING!
My 1st Relay experience was over the top! As my 9 year old would say “Epic”. I had a blast! My team was awesome and most importantly my van mates made the experience memorable and highly entertaining! I gained 4 new nutty running friends! ( I knew Laura and Rusty prior to our adventure)
While the hours were long, the miles hard, the comradery shared among fellow runners was priceless! Thanks to all for an amazing relay!
Now as Tommy would say……time for some much deserved “loaf’in” BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
My runs were dedicated to a dear friend Graham Edward Beacham, whom was called home after a tragic car accident Wednesday prior to the relay. An avid outdoors man, I know Graham would appreciate the beautiful scenery and quiet of the mountains just as I did. I cannot think of a better way to reflect and pay respects. I know I made him proud! Love and miss you dear friend!
Rest In Peace Dear Friend……