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East Bay Striders put Perfect Relay Record on Line, by Lawren Smithline and friends
Never Answer an E-Mail Message in the Middle of a Poker Game!!!, by Tom Eng
Palo Alto Run Club Relay Stories
DLI Runners in 199-mile Relay, by Bob Britton

by Lawren Smithline and friends

For the third consecutive year, the East Bay Striders sent a dozen men to duel in The Relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. From among nearly two hundred teams, EBS and exactly one other team set the standard. In 1999, as in 1998, the EBS team traded advantages, setbacks, and the lead with its closely matched competitors. Although EBS came up just minutes short this year against Twelve Angry Men, we shall return. We hope to see the jury back as well. As EBS captain, I've collected these reflections from team members to chronicle our experience.

Our runners were, in order: Dave Stephens, Lawren Smithline, Chris Ross, Phil Oreopoulos, Bruce Goode, Thom Trimble, Jeff Teeters, Rob Flatland, Mike Schwartz, Phelps Jackson, John Lehman, and Seth Davis.

Typical of an epic, some characters have many names. The Twelve Angry Men are referred to as Bohos, or the Davis team, or occasionally by their individual names.

Leg 1: 4:30pm Very Hot!
I can't let my team down. I have to start strong and stay with any other competitor that goes out. I have to remember that this not one race. I have two more runs later and I don't know what I'll feel like later on. Very early, I know my competition. He doesn't look like a runner. I'm surprised that he's able to keep the pace. It is very hot and since it's just the two of us competing, I want to say, "Let's not kill ourselves." We each throw in little bursts, but neither of us drops. As we come into the first hand-off, I remember Thom Trimble telling me, "don't race the last 300 yards. 10 seconds either way won't matter." I just hope we don't lose by 10 seconds. I maintain pace and come in 12 seconds behind our competition. -DS

Leg 2: It was hot. I saw John, the other runner, in front of me by two telephone poles. I narrowed the gap to about one and a third. The country was beautiful, awash in the sun. Halfway through, the weather felt even warmer. My mark disappeared around a turn and I wanted to be done. -LS

Leg 3: Chris Ross hung tough with his Boho counterpart in the early miles, but the heat again took its toll as Chris faded a bit over the final miles. -TT

Leg 4: The first mile felt fine. The Angry man was nowhere in sight, and I had to press a bit more to chase. At mile 2, I noticed the heat. The team gave me water, but I used it to shower my back rather than drink it (was that ever a mistake!). The roads started to stretch out. All I could see was the long path in front of me, with no sign of anyone, or anything. Where was that Davis guy? Again I applied the water given to me to my skin rather than my mouth. My pace slowed. I wished so bad the handoff was just around the next bend. By mile 5, the heat was all around me. I remember seeing the handoff location, but I don't remember handing off. When I finished, I folded. I knew I wouldn't be getting up for a long time. -PO

Thanks to Dr. Shapiro and The Relay volunteers, who helped Phil put some water back in. -LS

Leg 5: With Phil down for the count, Dave and Thom scrambled to pick up the pieces and keep EBS on track. With Lawren and Chris attending to Phil, and Bruce on the road for his first leg, Dave and Thom pushed ahead to give Bruce what little support they could find. We finally caught a bewildered Bruce over half way into his leg. We informed him that Phil was down and hurting. After watering Bruce, Dave dropped Thom off at the handoff and raced back to help with Phil. Bruce meanwhile gobbled up distance on his man, keeping the Striders in the hunt. -TT

Leg 6: I took the stick from Bruce and handed him my water bottle. I dashed into the fading light for my flat 4.5 miler. At the halfway point I was delayed by a red light, and again soon after by the onset of a stitch. My stitch buster saved the day. The last mile in darkness was saved by the EBS women's crew pointing me in the right direction. I handed off to Jeff and regrouped with our frazzled van members. -TT

Leg 7: Leg 7 started at about 7:40, just as it was turning dark. As I ran it became completely dark, and at some intersections I was not sure which way to turn. I was usually able to see the lights of other runners and in the other cases I guessed correctly. I started out behind the Bohos by about 4 minutes, and finished with a 9-minute lead, due to the Bohos runner getting lost. -JT

Leg 8: I rode to the start of my first leg, waiting to see what my body could do. I got my running gear on and jogged down to my starting point. There, I saw a guy who looked familiar to me. It was John Hancock, one of my fellow staff members from summer camp in 1982. Back then he was tenth in the state in the 2 mile. I was hoping I was psyched for a head to head battle because I knew Jeff was gaining on the Bohos. I got lost several times in the vineyard. I got through the labyrinth of grape vines and out to Highway 12, although not at the correct location. I knew where to go from there. When I finished, my teammates told me about how the Bohos got lost and that we were in the lead. I thought that I had been chasing them. -RF

Leg 10: The trail was very difficult to run on in the dark. My flashlight wasn't any help so I ran by the light of the moon. Once I got onto the road, I sped up quite a bit, but I'm sure I lost a lot of time on the big hill to start and the trail. -PJ

Leg 11: I took the handoff with no others teams in sight. Phelps maintained our lead over the Bohos but I had no idea how far back they were. A left turn here a right turn there - the Boho van parked at about two miles engage in some good nature jeering letting me know there man was closing in, I tell them to "bring it on"...a response I would regret in a few miles. Outside of Petaluma, the road started to climb but the darkness made it impossible to tell how steep it was. Cresting the hill I knew only an easy mile remains. Off to the side of the road sat that Boho van again, however this time they are cheering their man who cruised by like I was standing still. I hung with him but probably expended reserves I would need on the final leg. -JL

Leg 12: This leg was fun. The 12 angry men only had about 10 seconds on us at this point so I wanted to get the lead back for us. This leg started off on a nice up hill grade. Sean Seely the twelfth angry man went out really fast and must have put another 10 seconds on me. He went out too fast and I reeled him in. I passed him about half way up the hill and never looked back. I then pulled a Rob Flatlandish run down the hill and gave us a nice lead! -SD

Leg 13: The skies are clear, there is a full moon, and the temperature is low 60's. I won't be running head to head competition and we have a slight lead. The hand-off is fine and I go out with renewed enthusiasm. I'm not sure where my competition is, but I'm determined not to let him catch me. The night is beautiful. The full moon provides all of the light that is needed. Each runner ahead becomes another target. This leg is flat and fast with only one turn and my team is there to make sure I don't miss it. I'm able to get into a groove and just run a strong smooth pace. The only obstacles are the 6 or 8 various road kill laying in the road. According to my nose, some of them have been there awhile. With no mile markers, it's difficult to judge distance and pace. I see a lighted building in the distance and hope that it is the next exchange. A quick glimpse at my watch and it seems too early for the exchange. But what else would be lit in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. It is the exchange point and I realize I had a pretty good run. My competition made up some time but he didn't catch me. -DS

Leg 14: A lovely night for a run in Marin. I ran alert for the footsteps I would hear as our slender advantage evaporated, and spooked by my shadow doubled in car headlights. John caught me near the first hill. I tucked in behind and the passed him back, pulling away on the downhill. The second climb was his. On the backside, the leg finished around a turn. Had to get there quick. I'd done better on my second run. -LS

Leg 15: Under cooler night conditions, Chris ran a much-improved leg. He held even with the leading team and eventually cut into their now mounting distance on EBS. We were down only a few minutes, but in the dark, it looked much greater. -TT

Leg 16: Two hours later, back at Van A's resting station, after a shower, and a lot of water, I was thinking about my second leg. I thought I might recover in time to race again. I remember the look in Chris's face, thinking I was a bit off the rocker to want to punish myself again. Most people thought so (even the 12 Angry Men!). My last leg was a bit shorter and so much cooler, at about 1:30 in the morning. It turned out OK. I finished the leg without passing out. I was so tired afterwards and slept easily through most of the rest of the night. -PO

Leg 17: Down several minutes and our hopes of a victory slipping away, Bruce again took a bite out of the Boho lead. We were now catching slower teams more often, which made the effort seem more rewarding. -TT

Leg 18: I looked forward to the Golden Gate Bridge leg, unaware of our deficit on Boho. Running nearly all out at midnight proved to be much easier than I had predicted. I felt good! Holding back on the first leg was paying off as I chomped into the Boho lead. My exuberant van-mates stoked my fires further with positive reports on my status verses Boho. Again the stitch returned soon after hitting the bridge. A cinching of the stitch buster again eased the pain and I hammered on, totally oblivious to the grand views just over the railing. I eased a bit over the last mile to ensure I stayed on course. By the finish I had whacked over 2 ½ minutes off the Boho advantage. Where're baaaaack! -TT

Leg 19: Thom Trimble handed off to me at about 3am. We were behind by about 1:30. I had one of the best runs of my life, pushing hard all the way. Catching other runners spurred me on because I could see them far in advance and could tell I was moving up on them. The van crew gave me a time differential status. I was gaining on the Boho runner. Just after reaching the great highway I could see the Boho runner. I kept pushing hard and almost caught him by the exchange, finishing only about 5 seconds behind him. -JT

Leg 20: The head to head battle that I didn't get in the first round of the relay appeared, as Jeff closed on the Bohos once again. He owned his opponent this relay. I watched the moonlight shine on the breakers of Ocean Beach as Jeff was cutting the Bohos lead to less than 15 seconds. I was off on my second leg trying to chase down my old running buddy from days past. I was feeling competitive and went after him. I was thrilled at how fast I was gaining on him. As I ran up the never-ending hills, I got inspiration from how strong Mike McGuire looked on this leg the year before. I guess my illness was gone because I stayed tough on the hills and gave the striders a minute and a half lead. -RF

Leg 22: The leg was short with little rolling hills. I couldn't see the competition when I started, but eventually, I could see his flashlight up ahead. As I started to catch up, he figured out I was stalking him; so he turned off his flashlight. It made it more difficult to reel him in. I kept gaining, but the leg was just too short to close the gap. -PJ

Leg 23: I received the handoff just a few strides behind the Boho runner and promptly watched his flashlight disappear into the darkness. I lost about 30 seconds trying to decide which direction to run in the darkness. -JL

Leg 24: After taking a 12-minute nap, it was my turn to run again. This time the 12th angry man had a pretty nice lead on me. I think he took his time. This run was flat and smooth. I ran even splits and I gained a good minute on the 12th angry man. -SD

Leg 25: My left Achilles is tight, but feels like it will warm up. Adrenaline takes over for the first couple of minutes and finally I settle into a pace. Still passing slower teams helps me focus on running strong and steady. The sun is coming up and it is a beautiful morning. I start talking to runners as I pass them. I encourage them on and bid them good day. Some of them seem impressed with my endurance and pace and say so. It makes me feel even stronger. I never see my competition, but I know he's ahead of me somewhere. I finish the leg feeling good (and tired). Later I find out my competitor bested me in this leg by 70 seconds. Funny, he didn't look like a runner. -DS

Leg 26: The sun rose, and the heat was on again. I had seen John at the exchange, and started out of sight. The van saw me through the crossing at 0.7 miles. Traffic cooperated. The gentle uphill continued through mile 3. Then down and flat out to the exchange and done, my quickest run yet. -LS

Leg 27. Chris ran the mostly flat leg clicking off sub-6 miles for his 3rd leg of the day. Bohos lead grew to about 5 minutes at this point. We were tired.

Leg 28. Phil and the team decided that it was best to wave the white flag and skip his final leg. This moved Bruce up to a rolling 6 miler. Bruce kept his runner in check early but the hills proved to favor Boho as they added more than a minute to their lead. -TT

Leg 29: The super-steep 3-mile leg actually looked inviting compared to my original 10K Leg 34 ordeal. EBS was down a full 7 minutes and things looked glum. I challenged myself to run a fast leg just for the stats. I pressed the entire leg, encouraged every so often by much slower runners who made my 7 minute pace seem like a sprint. With only my watch as a distance guide I broke my leg into four five-minute increments. As the fourth quarter approached I squeezed the remaining oomph out of my quads. The finish came sooner than expected and I was quick to learn that I had cut the Boho lead back to a mere 2 minutes! It's a race once again! -TT

Leg 30: My third leg was all uphill, only about three miles. I felt good, pushed hard. Cut the then Boho lead from 2 minutes to only 30 seconds. -JT

Leg 31: I'm not sure if Phil realizes how much he did for the team when he gutted out his second leg. He kept us in the hunt and allowed the rest of us to run our original second legs. However, the change in running sequence that resulted when Phil wisely sat out his third leg meant only one thing to me. I had to run the dreaded Leg 31. As I left the start, my goal was to run as smoothly as possible to prevent injury. I leaned forward and stayed on the balls of my feet, just like Thom had advised. As I saw my opponent ahead of me, my focus turned from running smoothly to winning. The competitive spirit took over and I scurried past the Bohos. I was thrilled when about half way through the race my teammates told me I had a 1:10 lead. It was time again to focus on running smoothly. I was grateful to see the exchange point because I was sure that my legs were going to give out soon. As I handed off to Mike, I was ecstatic. For me, the run was over. And much to my surprise, my flu was over too. -RF

Leg 32 - Mike ran the best leg of the day just when we needed it. Up by just over a minute and running against a 33-minute 10Ker, his goal was to just keep us in first. After 2 miles of the 6-mile leg Mike had yet to yield more than a few seconds! Over the final flat 4 miles Mike kept over half his lead on a hard-charging Boho. -TT

Leg 33: The leg was probably my best. It was hot and all I had to do was hold the lead. I got a lot of support and encouragement from Van A. I got a stitch in the middle, but I was afraid if I raised my arms to work it out, the Bohos would report it to their teammate to motivate him. The stitch went away, and I even opened up a little more time on the competition. -PJ

Leg 34: Rolling back from an expected 6.5 Hard to a 6.2 Very Hard leg did not bode well. By the second mile there was no life left in my legs and the heat was bearing down. The Boho runner cruised by, but I was more concerned with how I was going to finish the leg than staying with him. A sharp right turn and all that is left is a mile uphill to the finish. I'm not going to describe the last mile. It is still painful to remember. -JL

Leg 35: Up a very steep grade and then down a very steep grade. I wish I could have run faster but my reserves were shot. I managed to gain 9 seconds on the 11th angry man but it was not enough. I slept for 14 hours after the race and was sore as hell! We will get them next year!!!! -SD

Leg 36: I told some teammates either I want be up by 5 minutes or down by 5 minutes. Either way it won't matter. Unfortunately, the latter was true. We are down by 4-5 minutes. The last 7-8 legs were awesome. They had the lead, we took the lead and they retook the lead. I took the handoff thinking, "you never know." One wrong turn here, a mistake there, maybe... I think it became obvious to everyone after the first mile of the last leg, no miracles were going to happen. My teammates told me it was over, jog in the remaining miles and enjoy the finish. My legs were dead and the fuel tank was on fumes. I was glad it was over. We all met along the boardwalk and jogged together through the finish line. The other team had to work for every precious moment of each leg. It could have gone either way and in the end, I still felt like a winner. Dead tired, but a winner. -DS


by Tom Eng, Van 1

So I am playing poker at Phil's house Friday night and Dennis wants my help getting into the Internet. After helping him, I figure why not check my E-mail. Accessing the main E-mail screen, I see this message from Rita, one of my Saturday morning running buds, entitled "Help!" Opening the message, it says one of her runners has broken a foot and she needs a replacement runner for the Napa to Santa Cruz Relay Race and what was I doing this weekend?

Just to enlighten the reader, the Napa to Santa Cruz Relay is a 199 mile relay race run in 36 legs from Napa County through Sonoma County, Marin County, San Francisco, San Mateo County and finishes in Santa Cruz County. The distance of each leg varies between 4 and 9 miles. There are 12 runners per team and each runner completes 3 legs. The team is broken into 2 vans, 6 runners per van. The first runner runs his/her leg, hands the baton to the next runner who runs a leg then hands off to the next runner and on until each person in the van has completed a leg. Meanwhile the second van drives to the exchange point and waits for the last runner in the first van to complete their run. This last runner passes the baton to the first runner in the second van who runs then passes to the next runner and so on. Meanwhile Van 1 drives to the next exchange point and waits until the last runner in van 2 finishes his/her leg who passes the baton back to the first runner in van 1. This continues until all 36 legs are completed.

Anyway, Rita is the captain of this relay team and since I was captain of the Oregon Hood to Coast Relay team (different race), I could understand her problem. If one person drops out, other team members would have to run a 4th leg. So what the heck, I call up Rita and ask her the distance of my legs and the relative difficulty of each leg, i.e. hills. She replies that the total distance is only 13 miles and that the only leg of any difficulty is the last one, only 3 miles. In addition I would be in Van 1 which would finish first. So I accept. Was it a smart move? You be the judge.

Saturday morning dawns, I get up, pack everything I could think of required for this kind of race and drive to Rita's apartment in Menlo Park. It is used as a staging point for all runners on the team. When everyone arrives, Rita informs us another runner who was assigned to Van 2 has dropped out. This means that three runners in van 2 will have to run a 4th leg, not a good beginning. We pack up the vans and head to Calistoga a town in Napa County where the start line is located. Meanwhile another runner who works for a local all news station will meet our van at the start. We get to the start, I jump out of the van and suddenly it hits me in the face, its 98 degrees out here! Our start time begins at 2pm when the temperature is at its highest. As the fifth scheduled runner, I am hoping the temperature drops a little when it is my turn to run.

Our first runner Laz, starts the race clean so we get on the road and head for exchange point one. Laz is in his mid thirties, does not run regularly, but does backpack a lot. This is his first relay race. Upon arriving I notice a difference between this relay and the Hood to Coast relay. This race only contains 200 teams, the Hood to Coast Relay contains 1000 teams and the exchange points are always crowded. This exchange point is dead, only a few race volunteers and a handful of team members line the exchange point, not bad I think. Suddenly there is a commotion in the exchange area. One of the runners coming in has fainted. It later turns out to be heat stroke and the runner is a member of a US Coast Guard team. Race volunteers begin the process of cooling down the runner and an ambulance is called. Our runner comes in hot, exhausted but in good spirits. He hands the baton to our next runner George and leans against the van to rest a moment. George in his fifties runs about 4 miles a day and is also a novice at this event. In the meantime the runner we are suppose to meet at the start is having problems meeting up with us. Rita has to call him on the cell phone and redirect him to the exchange point 2. Finally he agrees to meet at the corner of the T intersection at the 3rd exchange point, the leg where he is suppose to run.

We let Laz rest a little and then everyone gets into the van and we continue to exchange point 2. However we also stop our van in the middle of the leg and wait for George to run by in order to give him a drink and some words of encouragement. Arriving at exchange point 2, Alma gets ready to run. Alma, a native of Mexico is in her thirties and has never run in this type of relay before. However she is a very fast runner and her enthusiasm is infectious. George finishes his leg and hands the baton off to Alma. He looks like death warmed over so we let him rest a minute and drink something before continuing on. Our team piles in the van and we head for exchange point 3. Along the way we stop in the middle of Alma's leg to give her water and some vocal support. It is still in the mid 90s and everyone is thankful the Van is air- conditioned. Alma goes by and takes a drink. She is looking as though the heat is no problem. Upon arrival at the next exchange point, the runner from the radio station named Mike is nowhere to be found. Rita is a little angry and frustrated so she calls again. Mike says he is there but can't see Rita. Rita is the only person standing at the corner and they finally hook up. As soon as they meet Mike starts mentioning that he may not be able to run the next leg due to a banquet that evening. He says that his wife is sick and he has to take care of the kids. In addition he asks to be driven back to his car after his leg is over. This means yours truly will not get a water stop by the first van in the middle of the leg. Rita is livid but keeps her cool.

Alma is a good hot weather runner, she comes in with a winning kick and hands off to Mike. We collect Alma and head to the 4th exchange point. As soon as we arrive I begin getting ready for my leg. It is 5 miles flat but no shade. We estimate Mike at nine-minute miles but it turns out to be eleven-minute miles. By the time Mike finishes his leg it is after 5pm and the temperature begins to cool to the low 90s. I take the baton and start on my way. In the meantime Mike is acting like he is having a heart attack. Rita says little but has Mike sit down in the van so they can get underway. She drives him to his car back at the 3rd exchange point and then hurries toward the 5th exchange point just in time to stop and give me some water along the barren roadway. Averaging seven and a half minutes per mile, I arrive at the exchange point but no Rita. I wait for a couple minutes before Rita shows up and off she goes. Apparently taking Mike back to his car and stopping to give me water delayed things and Rita had to use the port-a-john really bad. We drive along the course and as we pass by Rita, she hands us her sunglasses as the sun starts to set. We stop along the course one more time and give Rita some water. Continuing to exchange point 6, we meet up with our other van and we wait for Rita. She shows up and hands off to Dave the first runner in the second van.

It is now after 6pm and the runners in our van are free to have dinner and rest before van 2 hands off to us again sometime around midnight. After catching her breath, Rita tells me that Mike will not be continuing with the team. I start to mentally prepare to run a 4th leg. But as we drive to Sonoma, Rita and I start talking about who we can recruit to run the other legs on such short notice. In the town of Sonoma we get some gas, and park the van. We have dinner at an upscale restaurant in a restored hotel. Unfortunately George is having trouble with his stomach and can't eat much. I have the pasta with out the spicy sauce, which is excellent. We decide that Ted, who has graciously offered his house as a rest stop between legs, will be kidnapped and forced to run Mikes last leg. But who will run the second leg? Rita calls another George who lives in Walnut Creek and runs with us on Saturday mornings. Hi George, is this your wedding anniversary weekend? No? Then what are you doing tonight? Rita gets George to drive from Walnut Creek to San Anselmo at 10pm so he can run Mikes second leg. What a guy! What a friend! What did Rita use to bribe George to come out to run Saturday Night? After dinner we get back to the van but the instructions are unclear as to how can get to exchange point 12, the Marin Cheese Factory. So Rita sees some cops, asks directions and off we go. We follow the directions and I manage to get Rita lost for a little while but we see our mistake and eventually find ourselves at the Cheese Factory.

Rita pulls into a parking spot way in the back of the lot hoping to avoid some of the noise. As Laz gets ready for his second run, some of the other runners, me included, bed down on the bench seats and try and to get a little sleep. One of the lessons learned from the Hood to Coast Relay is that an extra long van provides a great place to rest during the relay. So I am right on the verge of sleep, when I hear the front door open and Rita asking does anyone have any spare change? Apparently there is no cell phone coverage in this part of Marin County so Rita was trying to call George on a pay phone. Oh well, so much for sleep. So Alma and I are carrying a nice conversation when the side door suddenly opens and in pops a head that startled Laz. It was Juan, one of the elite runners we see at Sawyer Trail. He asks what I'm doing here so I ask him the same question. He has the potential to win the whole relay if he is hooked to another fast team. The hand off from the last runner in Van 2 to Laz is made at around 1am and as Laz runs to the next exchange point; van 2 will meet us in San Francisco. At the next few exchange points we find that there are no port-a-johns around. So it looks like the grass is being watered constantly. In addition Rita will be noting this in the post race meeting. (Rita is on the organizing committee). One minor incident occurred while waiting for George to run by on a deserted country road. Rita was waiting outside by herself without a flashlight to hand George some water, suddenly the drivers side door opened and in rushed Rita. She said she heard a loud noise somewhere in the bushes off the side of the road and decided not to hang around. I went out and shined my flashlight in the direction of the noise, nothing. Oh well, I didn't think Big Foot was ever seen this far south in California.

We made it to San Anselmo at around 2:15am. And guess what, George like an old trooper was waiting in his car at the shopping center across where exchange point 16 is located. He had been waiting since 10pm trying to sleep. However every time he was almost asleep, he would hear someone call out number 345 or number 453 as the baton exchange was being made. In order to avoid taking George back to his car after he ran, Laz volunteered to drive George's car to the next exchange point. What a Guy! Meanwhile we drove to exchange point 17 and I started to get ready for my leg.

My second leg was 5 miles and a little hilly at first proceeding through the bicycle trail paralleling highway 101 southbound then dipping down into the flats of the bay. There was one place where I had to stop to decide where the course proceeds but another runner showed the way. I ended on Bridgeway Blvd and handed the baton to Rita in Sausalito. Rita's leg ascends and crosses the Golden Gate Bridge where we met Van 2 in the presidio. The only other person awake in Van 2 was Steve Chin besides David who was getting ready for his second run. Apparently Steve keeps different hours and 4 am is about the time Steve goes to sleep. Steve and I walk over to Van 2 and Steve knocks on the door. The only person to respond is Muriel who looks at Steve and me, waves and then beds down back to sleep. After Rita handed off to David, we drove our van to Ted's house where a hot shower and more pasta is located.

Arriving at Ted's house in San Bruno, it is now 5am and Ted has been waiting. He was able to sleep almost 6 hours and is wide-awake. The shower relay begins and the water is put on the stove to cook the spaghetti. The sauce is simmering but George is still having trouble eating as he feels a little ill. Everyone else digs in and after the pasta is consumed everyone beds down to try and get a little sleep for an hour or two. Yours truly, to avoid getting cold, wears a down jacket and lies down on top of Ted's bed. Suddenly it is an hour and a half later and the sun is shining through the bedroom window. I must have been tired as sleep is usually impossible during a Relay Race. Getting up, I go into the living room where other team members are stirring. Ted's house is on a hill and has an excellent view of the surrounding peninsula including San Francisco International Airport. Ted explains that most of the time, the only thing one can see is the fog cover this early in the morning. But today instead of fog one is greeted by a clear view that stretches to the east bay and beyond. This is not a good sign since it means hot weather is in store for the coming day. Rita is in communication with van 2 and their last runner is just beginning his run. We get everything ready, hop in our van, kidnap Ted, and drive to exchange point 24 for our final set of legs.

At the exchange point 24, right next to hwy 280 near Canada Rd, it is around 9am and it is already starting to get warm. Taking the baton from our Van 2 teammate Dave, we see Laz disappear as he heads over a rise. We continue to exchange area 25, a busy street corner in Menlo Park and Van 2 heads off to breakfast. Rita and I wait with George who will run his last leg taking the handoff from Laz. Suddenly Rita's phone rings. It is Mike asking how our team is doing and how the relay is going generally. Rita is very polite. Actually it is a cover so she does not scream at him for bailing on us after his first leg. Anyway George takes the handoff and we continue on to exchange area 26, a parking lot at one of the high tech companies. Laz is rather sore and his feet hurt but still in good spirits. As the temperature continues to rise, we are now in Santa Clara County. Alma is ready for her leg and we finally break out the Super Soakers. These water guns can shoot a stream of water up to 30 feet or more, depending on how much pressure is used. We go down to the exchange area and Rita is shooting anyone with the Super Soaker who requests it, and some who have not. The hand off is made and we continue to exchange 27 a church parking lot. Ted will run for Mike so we keep calling Ted Mike confusing us as well as Ted. Everything goes well and Ted speeds off after the hand off from Alma.

We proceed to exchange point 28 in Stevens Creek Park, making a brief stop to see if Ted wants water. This is my leg and even though it is only 3 miles, one must ascend 1000 feet with the last mile gaining 600 feet. I'm ready for my last leg and take the baton from Ted as he completes his finishing kick. The first mile is not too bad but the road begins to get a little steep in the second mile. By the third mile the terrain got so steep that I had to walk a couple of times as I found it took less effort and covered the same distance as running. Luckily the temperature was not a factor as most of the route contained large Oak trees that provided shade. The last 50 yards was a slight downhill and I make a great show coming into exchange point 29 handing off to Rita. During my leg the van did not stop to hand me water since the road narrowed to one lane and the relay required all vans to take an alternative route to exchange point 29. But during Rita's leg, which also has an elevation gain of 1000 feet, the leg is run on the same course that the vans have to travel. We definitely stop a couple of times to give Rita a lot of encouragement and water.

Unfortunately along with the elevation gain the road has a lot of curves and as we stop and wait to give Rita water, George's stomach finally rebels. I give George a paper towel and tell him he should feel better which I think he does. We continue to the final exchange point 30 where Van 2 takes over to the finish line. Volunteers from the Palo Alto Runners Club (our club) man this exchange point, and the club banner is displayed for all to see. The exchange point is located at the intersection of Skyline Blvd and the Big Basin, Highway 9. As David waits in the exchange area for the hand off, we see Rita chug up and crest the hill. She sees the exchange area runs to David hands the Baton and trots over to a line of trees and heaves. But nothing comes out. Ted first asks me not to go to Rita's aid but as other people rush over to help, Ted and I run over to see if we could be of assistance. Rita is OK after some rest and water. We pile into the van and are DONE.

Everyone is hungry so we try to follow the directions to get to Santa Cruz but we take a wrong turn somewhere and end up on Bear Creek Rd which winds around the Santa Cruz Mountains somewhere. We finally make it to Ben Lomand and after an hour and a half we make it to downtown Santa Cruz. Rita's plan was to run the last leg in van 2 and then run into the finish line with some kids who have been helped by Rita's company's products. After lunch we head to the last exchange point 35. We park and wait for a long while. During that time it is agreed that Ted will run the last leg since Rita is not feeling up to running. We wait until 4pm and finally Van 2 shows up. Ted goes over and waits in the other van and we head to the finish line. Dropping Rita off at the finish line, we find parking on the street. We hurry to the finish line to wait for Ted as he runs in. We finally see the other members of our team and then we see Ted running towards us. We start running with Ted for the last 100 yards and we all finish together. It was a great relay and we finish in 27 and a half-hours (more or less). Everyone is tired but happy we are done. Everyone gets medals and pictures are taken. Van 2 decides to eat something and then will meet at Rita's house. Our van will be driven back to Rita's home immediately.

Looking back at this relay experience, it is interesting to note the way a team can overcome setbacks and disappointments. In addition I think everyone had a great time even with some temporary negative after effects from the race. I felt that the teams were as organized as best they could given the circumstances at the time. Tip of the hat to Rita who had to wear several hats organizing not just the team but the relay race as well. Congratulations to Alma, George, and Laz for completing their first relay. Special thanks to Ted and Walnut Creek George for coming out at a moments notice (At least I got 12 hours warning) to run these legs. Hmmm, the Napa Santa Cruz Relay is being held in October of next year and I may be free, RITA!!!


The following stories were published in the December 1999 newsletter of the Palo Alto Run Club.
Thoughts on the Relay...from Dave Wibbelsmann

When I ran the Calistoga-to-Santa Cruz Relay for the first time, with the SangStat Grafters in 1998, I didn't know what I was in for at the time, not having run in any kind of event like it before. This year, having been down that road before (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun), and after a full year of training under my belt, I figured I would be prepared for what was to come this time. However, the circumstances encountered up to and during this year's Relay would prove me wrong.

As with many of the other teams, we experienced our share of challenges, both before and during the event, in the form of last minute departures, untimely injuries, and 90°+ heat for both days. In our case, we lost two of our runners the day before the Relay, and another one bailed out after his first leg (not to mention no breakfast at Buck's after our 2nd van exchange, since Buck's was closed!). We were not alone; almost every team I talked to had to overcome some type of adversity along the way. It was very inspiring to be part of a team (and to see other teams) that pulled together so well to overcome the obstacles that we faced, and keep a positive spirit and have fun in the process.

There were some things that stayed the same as last year. Switching from Runner 12 last year to Runner 7 this year (which made for greater distance and difficulty), plus having to run a fourth leg made this year's Relay just as much of a physical challenge as last year's. Also, the camaraderie and team spirit of my van mates (and van 1 teammates, too) was every bit as prevalent as it was last year. Just like last year, I am already looking forward to next year's Relay (and a new set of challenges!).

A big THANKS is in order for the PARC volunteers at Skyline and Hwy. 9 (as well as all the other race volunteers) for all their efforts in the dark of night and the heat (and I do mean HEAT) of the day. Of course, congratulations to Rita, who not only organized our team, but also helped out on the race planning committee. And thanks to teammates Steve, Dave Collette, Muriel, and Ralph in Van 2, and Alma, Tom, George, Laz, Ted and George Fahd in Van 1, team players in every way.


Hey folks,

Just thought I'd give my own report on The Relay. I was originally drafted by all set to do leg 7. Then, when one of their runners came back from Hood to Coast injured, I was switched to leg 10 which is the most difficult leg (at least in my book). Since I had been training for Leg 7 I hadn't been running very many sustained steep uphills in training, instead, doing lots of fast flat and downhill runs. When I was switched to leg 10 with one week to go, my first words were, "holy s--t, how's this going to happen?!!!" As it turned out, I had my ultra running roots to thank for getting me through the worst parts, which were formidable to say the least. I was able to do 7:40's on my first leg, 6:50's on my second leg and 7:39's on my "last leg(s"). The most fun part for me was chasing some guy downhill on my first leg at what felt like a sub 6:00 pace in the moonlight and having to jump over 6 cattle guards on the way. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a team and cheering all of the other runners on. Although the sleep deprivation, good food deprivation, comfort deprivation, and leg-room deprivation were factors, I figured that everybody else was in the same boat, so why whine about it. I just took it on as a great opportunity to practice surrender. My team mates were all wonderful people, most of whom I hadn't met before the race. I'm really looking forward to running it again next year. I think I'd like to form a mixed team and to use it as a learning/teaching experience. My congrats to the race organizers, the teams and all of the volunteer support people without whom this race would not happen. It was especially nice to see some familiar faces out there, Tom Kaisersatt, Gayla Johnson, Christina Brownson, and Dave Wibblesman. For you PARC'ers, I went to the Arthur Lydiard lecture the night before the race and I hope to be writing an article for the newletter about his talk. I say "hope" because my wife and I are expecting our first baby next week and from what I'm told, I may have my hands full for a little while.

Stay tuned... Danny


I was Runner 6 (the last one in the first van). For my second leg (leg 18) I ran from Sausalito up and across the Golden Gate Bridge handing off to the next leg in the Presidio.

I took the baton shortly after 3am in Sausalito. The night was cool and still. As I ran along the waterfront, there was a surreal calm. The city lights and the bay were to my left, and I was overwhelmed by the silence with only the pounding of my feet disrupting the nightly calm. I remember being spooked by a nearby sound only to discover that a small wave had washed ashore breaking the still of the night.

As I climbed up the long hill to the Golden Gate Bridge, I was pleased to see that the fog had vanished, and I could enjoy a clear view in every direction.

There was a slight breeze as I approached the bridge, then I noticed a policeman there to open a gate. I can only assume that the bridge is closed to jumpers at this hour of night. With the gate open, I sailed onto the bridge. A slight dew had left the surface moist and slippery. Aside from the other runner ahead of me, and the occasional passing car by, I felt like the bridge was all mine.

At the end of the run, I turned under the bridge, then up the steep hill to the finish. It was odd to have such serenity and then encounter a sea of runners at the second major van exchange. I handed off the baton to John Whittin, then found my group.

I've always loved the Golden Gate Bridge, but in all my crossings, the peace and serenity made this one of the most memorable.



How I got talked into this thing...

"So, what are you doing between 11pm and 3am next Saturday night?"

Somehow sleeping didn't seem to occur to me as the answer. I guess it just didn't sound right. Who plans to sleep? "Hmmm, let me check my book - Gee, it looks like I've got that time set aside for my subconscious." As I couldn't legitimately claim to be otherwise occupied, I had to resort to what was left - "Nothing" I said.

As quickly as that, like some poor fool who passed out on an English dock, I was pressed into service for "Running Amok" - a group of 12 folks who, despite all the conveniences modern life provides up - like the car, chose to run a relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz over 199 miles. You would think they could have pushed both ends out just a smidge to roll it up to an even 200 miles, but I guess 199 is just as crazy as 200 and it does sound a little more legitimate. While I grant you that the relay runs along some of the most beautiful country in the world, trust me, it looks just as good from a convertible. However, it was not for me to reason why, I just had to show up at Canada College from 11pm to 3am.

Just like the runners, this was going to be a long weekend for me. However, I imagined I was going to smell a might bit better having chosen not to run through my weekend. Friday night I skipped up to my sister's in Petaluma to head out to the Wine Country the following morning. It took us a bit to get started, and my brother bailed out of the "Designated Driver" role. So with that inauspicious start, we set out in my sister's SMAV (Suburban Mother's Assault Vehicle) to the Sonoma County wine country. Had we gotten an earlier start, we might have headed up the Silverado Trail to the Calistoga start line. As it was, we took the short trip to five Sonoma County Wineries - Buena Vista, Gundlach Bundschu, Benzinger, and Glen Ellen.

In any case, once that adventure was over, I had a small dinner and set out to Canada College off the 280 freeway. I didn't have any trouble finding the exit. In fact I remembered years ago having to use that very same exit on my way back to College at UCSC to deal with a very inconvenient case of the Stomach Flu. Bad memories aside, I found the Gym after only a brief drive and parked at the bookstore. The rest of the staff/crew had arrived only minutes before (it was about 10:20pm, so I was a bit early). I introduced myself and Marsha and Sandy wasted little time in putting me to work. We unloaded two palettes of food into the cafeteria, and set up the tables with an array of fruit, bagels and coffee. The fruit and bagels looked fine, but I made the mistake of trying the coffee later that night. I feel really sorry for the runners who had to suffer through that brown abomination. It would have taken far more sugar than I care to risk to restore that "coffee" to palatability. The setup went quickly, and before 11pm I was on my way back to the Gym.

I was just crossing the street when a young lady drove up and asked me, "Do you know anything about a Relay here?" Using the wonderful discriminant that Dawn had given me earlier, "She has longer hair than I do", I guessed this might be my fellow victim of the press gang, Alice. Alice parked herself at the bookstore as well, and we went back down to the cafeteria to check her in. As the cafeteria was essentially done, we were sent back up to the gym to work the information table with some coffee and juice for the runners as they trickled in. Alice and I got up to the Gym and staffed the table ready for the deluge of runners to besiege us. Nobody came. We spent most of the time talking with each other and Bob, the radioman. Bob had a radio set up to track the runners with a spotting van. He kept us all up to date with a white board that listed the time the first runner passed each checkpoint. Alice had to leave at 1am, as she had to meet people at 9am that morning. She was more than generous, however, and stayed well past 1am. I eventually shooed her out with reassurances that it was OK to leave me by myself at the table. By the time Alice left maybe five vans had shown up.

I stayed on till a little after 3:00am answering the questions the few runners posed. The most popular question was "Where are the showers?" followed by "Where is the restroom?" It was at this that my Renaissance Faire training stood me in good stead. After more than 10 years in the information boothes dealing with thousands of hot, dirty patrons, I was more than ready for a few relay runners. By the time I left around 3:15am, only about a dozen vans had shown up. It seems we had the quiet shift. I was certainly glad to have a partner at the table, otherwise I imagine the runners would have had to wake me up to get an answer. In any case, I left before the lead runner had reached mark 22 and was asleep in Morgan Hill by the time I was told Running Amok would be arriving at my post at mark 24.

In the end, I actually had a lot of fun during my watch. The people were very kind and a lot of fun to talk to, and the runners were very courteous and seemed quite appreciative to have some there to greet them. Some of them seemed very tired and worn. I felt I was burning calories just looking at them.

I certainly hope that all of you in Running Amok had as much fun as I, and I hope none of you were injured. I have not yet heard anything particular about the race, so I do not know how you all did, but I hope it went well. It did for me.

-Robert "Stu" Haxton
Running Amok Staff Volunteer '99

Post Script: I just got word that you all did finish and that no one was injured (too badly at least). So congratulations to all of you! Just walking out to my car is intimidating enough for me!


by Bob Britton

Twenty-four Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center soldiers ran in the rugged 24-hour 199-Mile Relay Race from Calistoga, in the Napa Valley wine country, to Santa Cruz on Sept. 25-26. Competition consisted of 199 teams, including one from the Naval Postgraduate School, and others from Colorado, Florida, Rhode Island, and some foreign countries. Organs 'R' Us, a nonprofit organization and primary sponsor of the event, brings awareness of the importance of organ donations to help save other people's lives.

"Organs 'R' Us sponsors the event to bring awareness of the importance of donating organs to others," said Staff Sgt. Arlen Herbst, training noncommissioned officer for Company D, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion. He was a race participant the past two years and coordinator for the combined team from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, DLIFLC, and Delta Company. "Each team puts in $600 for entry fees, and you have two volunteers helping out each team at relay stops taking names and times of runners. When the team members pass the baton, or plastic wristband in our case, to the next team runner, that symbolizes the exchange of organs form one person to another."

The 199-mile relay race took runners from the flat country of Calistoga and the Napa Valley, along highways, through cow pastures, over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Palo Alto and the Santa Clara Valley, up the Santa Cruz Mountains and finishing at Santa Cruz. This grueling relay race tested each individual's stamina and endurance as they started off in 90 degree temperatures during the day and ran in 50 degrees at night. Relay legs, ranging from three miles up to nine miles, were judged on difficulty and terrain. Each runner ran three separate legs, with total distances ranging from 13 miles up to 18 miles.

After runner 12 finished his or her relay leg, then runner 1 would start the second racing cycle. Runners had about four hours rest between their runs.

"It was an honor to run for Organs 'R' Us cause because it is such a noble pursuit to find organ donors for people who need them," said Pvt. 2 Joshua Johnson, a Persian-Farsi student from Company C, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion and formerly with Bravo Company. "You can't really say enough about the people who give their organs to help others."

"My first two legs were five miles and the last one was only three miles," said Johnson. "In the first, I ran over flat terrain in the heat of the day without much shade, and that was exhausting. My second race was at 2 am Sunday morning in cool weather outside of San Francisco. The third leg was three miles up the Santa Cruz Mountains, which was most difficult. This stage was awe inspiring, difficult and made you walk part of the time since part of the route was almost vertical. This part of the race made Franklin Street look flat."

The 12-member relay team from Company B, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, consisted of privates and specialists and the company commander captain. A combined Headquarters and Headquarters Company, DLIFLC, and Company D team ranged from privates up to captains. This mixed team featured basic language students, military language instructors, senior noncommissioned officers, a chief warrant officer and two captains. All teams provided their own logistical support with vans, drivers, food and water and reflective safety gear at night.

Sgt. 1st Class Dan Kessinger, from the Inspector General's office, ran in this race last year and did it again this year. He helped coordinate the teams and legs. "It's a very challenging race running through mountainous terrain, pastures, barns, flat roads and highways," Kessinger said. "Flat roads are easiest for me, but that's not what I got. I ran through pastures north of Sonoma, and it definitely was challenging for me because it was at night and the elevation was 1,400 feet. With my three legs, I ran approximately 18 miles."

"We have a 12-person team, and each member will run three different times handing off the baton to the next runner," said Capt. Norman Emery, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, DLIFLC, who had previously competed in the Big Sur International Marathon Relay Race this spring. "At night time all runners had flashlights and reflective vests for safety reasons. You ran on the right side of busy highways with much traffic. That in itself was a cause for concern. Throughout the entire race, we had no police escort to guide traffic or monitor race vans, but we had our escort team vans follow at a safe distance or wait at the next relay point. There were 199 teams, which had staggered starts, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Race officials started out 10 teams every half-hour.

"The most challenging part of the race for me was my last leg up the Santa Cruz Mountains," said Emery. "You ran three miles out and one mile up in almost vertical elevation. I hurt my knee on the second leg, so I had to power walk the last part of it. After competing in the Big Sur race and this one, it definitely is a sense of accomplishment and achievement. This event is like a mountain-climbing thing. You just keep looking for a bigger mountain to climb, and the same applies to this race. This event gives you a test of your endurance and stamina, and shows you how far you can go under different kinds of weather and terrain. What amazed me and other teammates was bouncing back from one leg to run another one later on, getting little sleep and being short on body fuel to sustain you."

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph McDaniel, works in the Presidio of Monterey Operations, Plans and Policies Directorate, and ran in this year's relay race for the first time. "As far as the most challenging leg for me, it was running in the race for the first time," said McDaniel. "With my three laps, I ran about 18 miles. I started out in my first leg south of Calistoga and north of San Francisco. I enjoyed participating in this 199-mile relay race because we had a group of people who normally don't work together come together as a team. It was a good sense of camaraderie, a lot of humor, and a lot of urging each other on. We all ran what we set out to do, completed each leg and finished the race as a team."

Spc. Theresa Adams, Delta Company Spanish student, competed in the grueling race because of the challenge and something she had never done before. She just completed airborne school in August, so she was used to running all the time. Also, she is a member of the female running team from Delta Company, which constantly runs around Monterey and the beaches.

"The most challenging part of the race was the different terrain," she said. "In the race we ran on winding hills, on interstate highways, in grassy and shady parts, and over highway blacktop, dirt roads and paths. At nighttime we used the safety reflective vests and carried flashlights. I noticed some team members from other teams were not using flashlights, and it was difficult to see them. I've already decided that wherever I am stationed next year, I will take leave and come back again next year to compete in this 199-mile relay race."

Pfc. Norma Cross, a Delta Company Russian student, ran because the team needed another runner and her grandfather was pretty sick. So she ran for him. She's also the captain of the Delta Company female running team. "I ran three legs, which totaled 15.4 miles," Cross said. "I didn't like running my first and third legs because they were in the middle of the heat, and I had difficulty breathing with the high temperatures and humidity. I liked my middle leg at night where I could breathe better. My most challenging leg was the last one where I ran uphill 4.4 miles in the high heat."

Herbst mentioned that Delta Company provided five runners for the race and two volunteers stationed at the Santa Cruz finish line to keep track of times and names of teammates. He ran 13.6 miles in his three legs, which included running over the Golden Gate Bridge and up the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"The seven-mile leg over the Santa Cruz Mountains is broken up into three separate runners because of its difficulty and running almost vertically uphill," Herbst said. "Then you run about 10 miles downhill through redwood forests. Running uphill in the Santa Cruz Mountains almost straight up vertically was the most difficult part for me. Usually, I'm real good running up hills, but these mountains took much out of my legs and me, so I ran at a slower pace. I also ran over the Golden Gate Bridge going up a slight incline and leveling off and going downhill afterwards.

"My most rewarding experience of the race was receiving thanks from someone whom we never knew and just met at the Del Rey Oaks car wash to wash our vans after we completed the race," said Herbst. "This person had a granddaughter who died a few years ago from cystic fibrosis. She needed an organ transplant but never received one. His granddaughter had just graduated from high school when she developed complications from her illness and died a week after her graduation. When we mentioned we competed in the Organs R Us 199-mile relay race, he thanked us for our support of the organ transplant program. He said that if his granddaughter had received a replacement lung from her illness, she might have lived."

If McDaniel competes again next year, he would like to see teams from all DLIFLC military services compete and carry the DLIFLC banner. Emery goes along with this challenge to the other military services for bragging rights for the best service and runners.

"I appreciated the chance to better know some of my soldiers and the fine dedication and teamwork of the members," said Emery. "Everybody knew coming in before the race it wasn't going to be easy, and it would be challenging. Everybody met the basic challenge. My guidance was to have all runners bring some military affiliation for the running gear or uniform. Some of our runners wore HHC T-shirts and shorts, some ran in Army physical training uniforms, and some had organizational T-shirts. Other teams asked us about our work at DLI or said some relatives previously served in the Army. It was great for morale and possibly recruiting purposes. It was a positive public relations effort to promote DLI. We showed the Army and DLI colors in a positive manner."

Other HHC runners included Staff Sgts. Mike Arrowsmith and Joel Vaughn, Russian military language instructors; Staff Sgt. Steve Mitchem, Arabic MLI; Staff Sgt. Allan Fenske, from Command Sgt. Maj. Debra Smith's office; Capt. Gina Anderson, a former company commander and a Delta Company Arabic student; Spc. Luke Henry and Pvt. 2 Amber Archer, Delta Company Russian student.