What better way to spend a 20 degree Valentine’s Day than running a MARATHON as part of a four person relay team?!! I mean maybe sleeping in, brunch, Bloody Mary’s or nothing would have been ok, but running as fast as you can in a polar vortex and paying to do this is SO much better. I’m actually a little serious! I had the best Valentine’s Day morning running with Brian (how romantic are we!?) and friends at the 2016 Massacre Marathon Relay in Greensboro NC. I have a little history with this race as it was my 6th time participating! Sunday was the coldest by far, but so much fun introducing my new friends to a Greensboro tradition. And BONUS, I saw so many of my Greensboro running friends as well as more fellow Triangle runners. What is this Marathon Relay exactly and how does it work? And, how is any part of this FUN?
The Massacre Marathon Relay has been around for many years. I first competed in the race in 2009 and that wasn’t even the first year. I did the race 5 years in a row before I moved here…always as a 4 person team. While I love competing with a team there are several ways you can run the Massacre. The first and most popular is part of a 4 person team. Teams can be all male/female or co-ed. The race takes place in Country Park which is a 1.6 mile loop (similar to Lake Pine for my Apex friends). Each member of the team runs 4 laps. The first I heard about this race I thought GREAT…I run 4 laps or 6.4 miles and I’m done. WRONG. The point of the relay when you compete as a team is each person runs one lap at a time. So, what this means in real life is you are running 1.6 miles as fast as you can and then hanging around eating oreo’s and trying to stay warm for about 30 plus minutes waiting on your teammates to complete their laps. This is what makes the race challenging and “fun”! The first person to start the race in your team also has to run 2.2 miles in order to get the team total to a full marathon distance. If you can’t talk any of your friends into this craziness you can compete as a 2 person team and split the laps up however you want or you can run SOLO….and it’s even a Boston Qualifier. I would straight up die running 16 laps around this park. I did have two crazy dedicated friends run a 2 person team today and they rocked it out…go Evelyn and Kevin! A new option in the last few years is to get more than 4 people on a team….you can get a team of up to 8 people so there is truly an option for everyone.
I don’t even know how it even really came about that we would be doing the Massacre this year! I think someone posted about upcoming races on our neighborhood FB running group page. The Massacre Relay was mentioned and I probably ran my mouth about how fun it was and next thing you know we had three teams formed. We had a fast girl team of Abby, Carrie, June and Pauline. Three Boston Marathoner’s and Abby who is a former Ohio State Track athlete. Our second all girl team was myself, Deborah, Kimberly and Jamie. We like to call ourselves the party team. Finally, we had to get some guys in the mix so we had Brian (my husband), Valo (Carrie’s husband…do you see a pattern here), Justin, and our friend from Greensboro, Chuck. We set out around 7am to get to the race and set up. It was SO cold. This is by far the coldest I’d ever run the race. Thankfully we had a tent and Chuck came to the rescue with two propane heaters…as well as picking up all our race packets before the race! Since it had been two years since I have done the race I was expecting the usual arrangement of teams set up on the hill, but I was so excited to see teams setting up tents along the start and finish. This was so helpful as we were literally at the start…this made it easier to keep warm between laps and when I almost missed Kimberly coming in for the handoff and she had to yell for me I was right there (oops). Speaking of handoff and the order your team runs doesn’t matter too much. The first person has a little extra distance as they run 2.2 miles on the first lap only. Deborah is training for a 1/2 marathon so she chose to get the extra distance and go first. She was also the fastest so this ended up being a great strategy. Jamie ran second, Kimberly third and I was last. This was my first time going last and the only bummer about that is you wait almost an hour to start and are very jealous when everyone starts finishing HA! What is it like to run fast, stop and do it again? It’s not as bad as you might think. The cold makes it much harder, but after the first lap you know the course and by the third you are thinking only one more time up this darn hill (darn is actually used in lap 2…other words start to make their appearance in my head by lap 3). The first mile of the loop is hilly and the last 1/2 mile is mostly downhill so that is nice…especially as you round the corner and start flying down the hill! The time waiting to run again goes by faster than you think and we spent it warming up by the heater, snacking, and socializing. I love watching the other teams at the start and finish! If you have read any of my posts before you know there will be that sappy…awkward moment when I reflect on the inspiration I find in groups of people or individuals achieving a common goal. This race is no exception and in fact is a giant example of how we can all do this running thing. I saw kids on the course, people of all shapes and ages….I saw young guys running 5 minute miles in tanks and shorts (yikes) and others walking up the challenging hills. I loved the older gentlemen running to the finish as a team with their American flags (and a fast finish!) and the teams in cute matching Valentine’s shirts and leggings. There was the cute girl in pink shorts who I’m pretty sure ran the whole thing solo and had a smile on her face every time I saw her. My friend Jennifer ran on a fast all girl team for her first Massacre race after running a 16 mile training run for a marathon on Friday! I also got a pleasant surprise when we set up right next to a former Running Mama and fellow Cary neighbor. Carrie is also marathon training and made my cute little Valentine headband I’m wearing in the pictures. Loved seeing my other Running Mama Cynthia. I love costumes and while the cold may have deterred some costume wearing I loved seeing the dinosaur costume on my last lap and check out Pauline and this stud!
So…how did our teams do?! Our fast girl team took 2nd, the guys 4th and the “Party” team 6th (in our respective divisions). Not too bad! I think almost all of us are in for next year (figure we can start talking about it when it’s 1,000 degrees in August). I have this theory that it’s only brutally cold every other year so next year should be nice. And did I mention you get a hoodie and medal for doing this race?! Can’t beat that.
I did have two Greensboro friends run the race as a 2 person team! Evelyn and Kevin did great. They split up the laps by Evelyn running 4, Kevin 8, and Evelyn 4 more. Evelyn used her two hour break to warm up in her car and change clothes despite me telling her I would have gone home after the first 4. That is dedication and another way to run the race….they should really find more friends for next year;)