Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Spartan Race Relay Experience

A Spartan Race Relay Experience
New to Spartan Race is the Spartan Race Relay. The first relay of this sort was offered at the Carolina Beast in October of 2012. Injured and sore, I had to refrain from the temptation to earn the yellow medal. A few of my friends gave it a try and had a blast. I was going to make sure I didn’t miss out on the next opportunity.
That opportunity came when I made the difficult decision to run the Sacramento Beast instead of the Fenway Park Time Trials. I was going to Sac to improve my beast score as well as spend time with some of my dearest Spartan friends. Before I even signed up for my individual elite racing heat at 8 AM, I contacted Ang Reynolds and Shane McKay to see it they were up for a relay event together.  It didn’t take long for both of them to reply, “I’m in.” Okay so that was easy.
Now for a name.  Ang and I tossed around a few things, she insisted we have the word “green” in our name in honor of my electrifying favorite color (and the fact that I raced in a color non-other than that.) Ha, that was it Electrifying Green. We just really needed a noun to complete the phrase. In honor of a term my friend Joe had given to me, “Queen of Green,” I had the name figured out. A quick text to Ang, “How about Electrifying Green Royalty?” “That’s it, awesome,” was her reply.  We agreed that we would wear electrifying green clothing and crowns on our heads. We informed Shane of the name and mandatory gear. He was fine with the name and the green gear, but a bit skeptical of the crown.
 I reassured him that these two chicks, particularly Barb Wire 4 Breakfast chicks, don’t go for the usual tiaras with bling. Why we were going to race in none other than Barb Wire Crowns, yes, real barb wire crowns. Shane asked where we would get these and how would we wear them to not bleed our heads. We’d make them of course and we’d wear my signature lime green bandanas underneath them.
We were in for an adventure for sure. Our good friend Joe Kauder was working on putting together a three-person team of his own. However, he decided that he would rather join the Electrifying Green Royalty Team and run the whole three legs supporting, helping, and encouraging us. So, even though this beast offered a three-person relay team, we formed the first four-person relay team.
For two weeks prior to the Sacramento Beast the four of us planned, bent barb wire, and gathered our green. We measured our heads and snipped and tucked barbs. Finally the night before the race, the crowns were revealed. Proudly we each set a shiny silvery, lime ribbon clad halo on our heads admiring the ingenious creative fun which would symbolize our friendship and commitment to our passion of OCR the next day.
All four of us raced our hearts out in the 8 AM elite heat. We finished with pride and full of mud, shivering and soaked we headed to our vehicles to rest and recover for our 1 PM relay calling.  We changed into dry, green clothes and put on our crowns and were off with the smoke bombs. Joe and I started the relay for the first leg. I was ready and biting at the chomp for the heavy obstacles of the first section of the course. We weren’t the fastest runners of the heat, but we sure looked the best, and were probably the happiest because not only were we racing this awesome course in beautiful California again, but we were racing with the dearest of friends. My knees ached; my calves and hips were stiff. I was cold to the core, and the course was nothing but slop, but this was a highlight of the 20 or so races I had competed in this year. Joe encouraged me and stayed with me each step of the way. He didn’t complain about a thing. He held up the tarp of the first obstacle we had to crawl under so our crowns wouldn’t catch. We aroo-d together through the awesome muddy barb wire crawl. He scampered up the rope right with me kicking the bell as I did. How awesome to have a best friend by your side. 
Our teammates, Ang and Shane were yelling encouraging words to us at the top of the mound as we crawled out of the murky water and approached the relay exchange. Ang was ready to go out for her leg of the course. Joe and I traded crowns and made a quick adjustment to head gear and he was off with her. What a great sight. Electrifying green dots made their way through the muck and out of our sight.  Shane and I hung together stretching and keeping warm while we waited for the other half of our team to come back into vision. After about 45 minutes here they were, hopping down a very slick, no longer grassy decline into the traverse wall area. Both Joe and Ang quickly jumped onto the now soaking wet, mud topped wood blocks.
Unfortunately neither could hang on. In fact, I cannot recall one person who could at this point. Burpees for our team. I held the dry clothes and camera while Shane so kindly jumped in on the 30-count. Cold and wet, Ang and Joe faithfully pounded out their penalties. Once number 30 was hit, Shane and Joe were off for the final leg, the longest leg, of the relay.  They helped many a racer on that last leg, stopping when they were needed.
Ang threw on warm dry clothes and we hung out discussing how awesome the course was a second time. We headed to the sandbag hill as I was going to jump in and help either teammate, if need be, to finish the race. The sun finally appeared although the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. What a gorgeous place to be on this November day!
We watched racers grab sandbags and gruelingly lug them to the top of the steep hill that no longer supported long golden grasses. Racers in costumes, racers in groups, racers with faces of misery, and even a few racers with half-hearted smiles came and left the area. We yelled and encouraged as we knew how incredibly difficult this last insane incline was while carrying that heavy, wet pancake.  Finally, there they were, our Electrifying Green Royalty princes. Ang grabbed my warm clothes and gear as I stripped down to my racing greens. I nabbed a pancake and joined my teammates for one last climb of glory. The sky was an amazing shade of blue, the clouds hung so heavy, our barb wire crowns sported muck and stray clumps of grass, but each one of us had a huge smile upon our
faces. Even Joe, who was about to complete his 28th mile of the day, cracked a smile. Up and then down that monster of a hill we went with our pancakes. We were quite happy to toss them into the pile at the bottom of the descent as we turned the left hand corner toward the final obstacles.
The three of us finished together with Ang waiting enthusiastically at the finishing mat with our warm clothes. We all hugged in joy and happiness right there in the pig-sty of a finishing corral.
Perhaps for each of us this relay meant different things. For me it was not about winning, or about an insignificant yellow medal to add to my collection but much, more importantly this relay experience meant what Spartan Race has symbolized to me all season: honest, sincere, giving friendships with people who live their lives with true passion, care, and unselfishness for others and this incredible sport.
Thank you Ang, Shane, and Joe for helping me once again live and enjoy my life to the fullest. (And a special thank you to Scott Gregory for being our hidden cheerleader and photographer the whole damn cold, wet, muddy day.)

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