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Ralph and Tri Curious at Start
Tiffany marks her roadkills
Al buries Ralph in the quarry
Capt. Steve and CRMF

 

2005 ARTICLES

The 2005 Relay, Tri Curious vs. Crazy Relayin' Mo' Fo's (CRMF) for 199 miles.
by Ralph Gowen, Tri Curious Captain, November 2005

Disclaimer: This is a biased chronicle of the race between two Forward Motion Race Club (FMRC) teams, Tri Curious and CRMF, written from the point of view of Tri Curious. Any fabrications or exaggerations will be difficult to distinguish from actual events. There has been no attempt to spare the feelings of any runner, be they from FMRC or any other team. Any resemblance between the people mentioned and real people is purely intentional.

Preamble.
One should count each day a separate life. Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If Dean "ultramarathon man" Karnazes can do it by himself, why can't we do it as a group? This is the kind of thinking that usually leads you into doing something silly. This was exactly the challenge that was thrown out at the July FMRC meeting immediately after listening to Dean's mind-boggling discussion of his running exploits.

For those who haven't heard of The Relay, it is a 199-mile race from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. Twelve runners per team each run three legs (around 10K each) over the course of a weekend, traveling in two vans through some of the most scenic country in Northern California.

Twelve addled individuals, including 5 women and 7 men, sign up or are signed up at that moment. Since we need six women to field a coed team, additional recruits are added until two full teams are fielded.

Ralph Gowen spearheading this foolishness decides to captain the coed team, Tri Curious, and arm bars Steve Cramer into doing the same for the all male team, CRMF. Ralph and Steve meet and split the teams trying to balance them by running ability so that there will be strong runners in both squads to handle the ugly legs and provide good competition between the two teams. To round out the squads, a few folks are recruited from beyond the boundaries of FMRC.

Then the inevitable starts to happen as folks with unforeseen commitments and one guy with a lame excuse back out. Christy Slye is devastated that she can't run, but offers to serve as a team volunteer, signing up to do a 2:30-6:30 AM shift in Woodside manning a relay exchange after spending the night at her husband's class reunion. John Stark agrees to join her on that shift. Without these selfless volunteers, this event cannot be held, and each local team must provide two or be disqualified. Steve recruits his wife Amy to work at the starting line and Carlos Caicedo signs on for a night shift in Sonoma County.

Tri Curious is now set with Kelby "the motivatrix" Thornton, Sarah "co-captain" Heiler, Barbara "sprint to the finish" Donlan, Mary "West Valley" Lothrop (she runs for West Valley Track Club, but is otherwise well-liked), Tiffany "downhill" Deusebio, Karen "legs" Schierholtz, Rachelle "lavender feet" Fong, Ralph "Captain Curious" Gowen, Joe "don't make big guys run up mountains" Anderson, Steve "beat Ralph" Meagher, Jason "the animal" Cruser and Kevin "tri-Italian" Magna.

As the team is gelling, Tri Curious is awaiting the results of the age group triathlon nationals to see if Kevin will be able to run or will go to worlds, and is thrilled when the event is hurricaned out of existence, forcing Kevin to commit to the relay.

At this point, Kevin realizes that he's been assigned the toughest leg and starts to up his training, getting an owie on his toe, which prompts him to gracelessly abandon his teammates. Ralph scrambles and finds Jim "I'm a real man who will run through pain" Brody who agrees to run the event even though he has surgery scheduled a few weeks before the relay. It's amazing what some people are made of (or not)! Finally, Cliff Donlan (Barb's husband) and Bob Beaton are recruited to be van drivers and Tri Curious is set.

The CRMF's team was rounded out as well. Steve "Head Mo' Fo' in Charge" Cramer built his squad with a core of FMRC athletes including Jim Alton, Larry Feigenbaum, Todd Anderson, Rich Archer, Mark Hopper, Gustavo Fernandez and Al Kirsininkas and then added friends including Dave Hom, Vince Hoeser, Kevin Burghardt and Tilden Moschetti.

Now the focus is logistics. Veterans of The Relay strongly recommend a 15-passenger van where you can sacrifice one row of seats to gear and still have ample room for the runners to stretch out. After assignments are made for everything from cameras and baby wipes to toilet paper, walkie-talkies and water, we await our starting time. Ralph and Jason are told to bring bedrolls, as there will be no room for them to sleep inside during the event.

When the starting list comes out Tri Curious is seeded fourth of 65 open coed teams and is assigned a 3:30 starting time. The first (slowest) teams leave at 7:30 AM, a full 8 hours earlier, and the fastest teams leave at 4 PM. CRMF is assigned a 2:30 starting time and is immediately accused of sandbagging their estimated pace times.

The night before the relay it rains… a harbinger of doom?


Prologue.
You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

The morning of the race, and the air is crisp and cool. The rain is just enough to clean the air and raise the humidity. The Tri Curious vans and runners rendezvous at a local Park and Ride and last minute leg switches are agreed upon. Off to the grocery store for water and ice, and in retrospect way too much food. Buying on the course turns out to be the preferred solution.

Tri Curious pulls onto the highway for the hour and a half drive from the East Bay to Calistoga. The team caravans up the Silverado trail into the Napa Valley to watch the early runners coming down the course. In an hour of bad sportsmanship, the team destroys what little karma they might have had by making fun of the competition.

Arriving in Calistoga, Tri Curious parks next to the assembled CRMF team and checks in. Decorating the vans occupies some time, while awaiting the 2:30 CRMF start. A Forward Motion tattoo clinic opens and closes before the health department finds out what's happening. Team numbers are distributed, safety signs attached to the backs of the vans, and the baton, a green organ donation (Live Strong style) bracelet, is given to the leadoff runner, Kelby. Kelby reads a poem to the team, bringing tears to most eyes:

Your biggest challenge isn't someone else.
It's the ache in your lung,
The burning in your legs,
And the voice inside you that yells can't.
But you don't listen!
You just push harder.
Then you hear the voice whisper, "CAN"
And you discover that the person you thought you were,
is no match for the one you really are!

Chapter One - Legs 1-12, Calistoga to Marin County
When you come to a fork in the road, take it. Yogi Berra

Just before 3:30, the teams are called to the starting line one by one, and at the line Kelby is Oprahed. "Who are you?" "Where are you from?" "Why are you here?" Kelby handles the first two questions with aplomb, but the third one is a stumper for her and probably the rest of us.

In actuality, The Relay and all the runners are supporting Organs 'R' Us and Katalina who waits for a heart lung donor. Many teams dedicate their run to people awaiting transplants or folks who have received an organ.

To reduce congestion, vans are only allowed on the course when its own runners are active, so Van 2 heads off to Yountville for dinner. On the way to Yountville, Van 2 boisterously cheers Kelby on as she streaks down Highway 29, which would become the modus operandi for the entire event. While Van 1 runs their first legs, Van 2 is sitting on the patio at a beautiful restaurant, Hurley's, having heirloom tomatoes, risotto, roast chicken, butternut squash soup, and the like, as the sun silently glides towards the horizon.

The Hurley's patio faces the road on which runners on the fourth leg arrive after traversing the Napa Valley from the Silverado Trail. Much to the delight of the other Hurley's patrons, the underdressed Van 2 runners cheer on each passing contestant. Finally a few of the diners asked what is going on, and walk away shaking their heads in disbelief, muttering in tongues.

Kelby runs down Highway 29 and cuts across to the Silverado Trail near the start of the Napa Valley Marathon course. Sarah, Barb and Mary run the bulk of the marathon course posting great splits in the afternoon sun without any major mishap. In Van 1 (dubbed Morrison), things got a little exciting on Mary's leg when Cliff pulls off into a turn out so the team can cheer for Mary. As the gate closed behind Van 1, there is a lot of concern of how they would get out and who would tell Mary that she had to run the next two legs herself. Thankfully, the gate opens when approached from the inside and Van 1 hustles down to the Yountville Cross Road where Mary hands off to Joe, who finishes crossing Napa Valley from East to West and through the town of Yountville.

As dusk approaches with a full moon rising in crystal clear skies, Joe goes by Van 2, which is now off to the first van exchange at a local church. What a madhouse! Pulling into the exchange, Van 2 is treated to another full moon hanging out the side of a team van. Modesty seems to have gone by the wayside with people changing clothes whenever and wherever they can.

There are team vans and runners all over the place, some of the earlier starting teams are having dinner, showering or getting massages. Teams are coming in rapidly and are carrying or wearing lights and reflective gear. More than one team gets their handoff and sprints off to a red light all of 15 feet away. Unfortunately, you have to follow the traffic rules on this event or risk disqualification.

Meanwhile, back on the course, Steve takes the baton from Joe for the first leg in the dark - legs 6 through 21 will be run with only the light of the full moon, headlamps and, depending on the leg, streetlights. Steve sets a blistering pace later recognizing that it's harder to maintain a proper pace when running by yourself in the dark.

Van 1 is ahead of schedule at the first van exchange, setting another team standard: When you run on your own, a sub-par day is a sub-par day, but when running as part of a team, you want to do your best all the way so as not to let down the team. Each member of Van 1 has been clocking times ahead of expectations. Rachelle leads off for Van 2's first leg. Van 2 is off into the night and while awaiting Rachelle's arrival, Bob pulls out a DVD player and fires up an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Rachelle wanted downhill legs to accommodate her plantar fasciitis, ends up on a long leg with uphill grades heading out from Napa into the countryside, but lays down a good split for leg 7. Rachelle begins her post run ritual of mixing recovery drinks for each runner. Drink is a bit of a misnomer because these have lumps big enough for mashed potatoes. She also is in charge of organizing and reorganizing and reorganizing the van at every stop.

Tiffany runs into the night through a vineyard on leg 8 - occasionally having to stop and look at her feet to see where she is. The path is marked by glow sticks and chalk arrows but most of the time it is just dark. Miles from anywhere, she hears animals rustling in the bushes, swearing, "Never again will I do this nonsense." After emerging onto Highway 12, Van 2 meets her halfway through her leg to offer encouragement and water, and then sends Tiffany up the road.

Jim runs leg 9 into the darkness of Sonoma - seeing another team at this point is truly a rarity. Most of our runners are doing their legs without seeing another soul until reaching the exchange.

After getting some friendly advice from a competitor that turning off your headlamp while running off road makes for better visibility, Ralph starts leg 10 by running a 3.5 mile 1500' climb on an endless street. Cars would pass into the night and disappear far overhead. Where is the turn? Some teams would miss it (although the arrows were large and obvious) and spend hours in the dark. He logs a 7:15 mile, followed by a 10-minute mile, and an 11-minute mile. At the turn, the course goes up a cul-de-sac onto a dirt road into a ranch. A volunteer manning a water table offers a friendly, "Look at the view; it's the best part of the race. You only have another 5.5 miles and 1600' of downhill running now."

Full moon notwithstanding, if you have intentions of remaining vertical, you should only be looking for the next footfall. Even a momentary glance at your watch could spell disaster. Cattle crossings in the dark are incredibly exciting when you're running downhill at breakneck speed and come to think of it there is a reason they call it breakneck. The first cattle crossing had something in the middle, which Ralph smartly avoided. Looking out the corner of his eye as he careened across the bars he sees it is plywood put down to help the runners. Oops! So he starts hitting those things dead center on the next couple of crossings. The last crossing he doesn't spot until he is almost on it, pulling a braking maneuver worthy of the roadrunner in order to avoid landing in it. Ralph powers down the hills running 6:30-6:45 miles in the dark on dirt roads, never seeing another runner the entire 8.9-mile leg. Arriving at the relay point, he learns there is only one team still on the course behind Tri Curious. He mutters, "@)#(*$%^!@#$".

On leg 11, Jason gets the first two Tri Curious roadkills - one of whom refuses to die. Jason passes them both in the first two miles. He powers through sub 6-minute miles and then moves into the 4-mile climb at the end of his leg, but one sticks on his heels. To drop this leech, he resorts to turning off his headlamp and sprinting into the darkness.

The uninitiated might wonder what roadkill is? Half of the fun of an event like this is passing teams on the road, most of which have started earlier than you. The fun here is marking them on the side windows of your van, like a World War II flying ace would do, and to see who can accumulate the most roadkill on the way. The goal is to have your van covered with hash marks by the time you reach the beach.

Leg 12 starts in the pitch black, but is obviously next to a fairly substantial manure pile. At night, your senses can be overwhelmed by things like this. As the team watches shooting stars streaking across the night sky, Karen powers through her first leg on some tough hills on Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd. Van 2 stops to offer encouragement at turnouts throughout the course. Karen collects roadkill along the way as she crests some tough little hills along the road. After calling ahead on the walkie-talkies, Van 2 cruises into the second van exchange at the Marin French Cheese Factory in middle of nowhere, Marin County ending its duty for the night at 1 AM.


Chapter 2 - Legs 13-24, North Marin County to Redwood City (Things that Go Bump in the Night)
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

After handing off to Kelby for the start of the second round, Van 2 heads to the Golden Gate Bridge to get some rest, already having taken Baby Wipe showers and placing soiled running gear in hermetically sealed containers. On the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge, a full soup kitchen with the aroma of split pea permeates the parking lot. The air is cold outside, and Jason and Ralph without so much as an "I'm sorry" or "We can make room inside" are sent off to the homeless camp that has sprouted on the lawn next to the visitor center.

All night long, teams are arriving every couple of minutes. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, runners are greeted by an energetic lady volunteer with a loud, "Woo hoo, you're here! Run under the bridge and up the hill to the exchange!" About the 50th time you hear this, while trying to grab a couple of hours of shut eye, you're ready to go postal; but you have to give her credit for showing such enthusiasm all night.

Van 1 runners are traveling through the wilderness of west Marin County. The countryside may very well have been pretty were it visible. Kelby, Sarah, Barb, and Mary navigate the roads through Nicasio (wherever that is), San Geronimo (when was he sainted?), and back to civilization in San Anselmo and Corte Madera. Joe runs the leg up to the floating subdivision in Richardson's Bay where Steve takes over on the glamour Golden Gate Bridge leg.

After sleeping fitfully if at all, Ralph and Jason ask Woo Hoo lady, "What time is it?" 3:45 AM is the reply and shortly thereafter the sleeping Van 2 folks receive the call that Steve is on the bridge and will arrive in a few minutes. Steve has a near-religious experience running across the bridge at 4:00 AM. It is quiet, the sky is clear and the water is still with the full moon reflecting off of it.

Rachelle is excited and tired while waiting for Steve at Exchange 18. At one point she jumps up and tries to grab the baton from a random guy running into exchange. He might be named Steve, but he isn't interested in giving her the baton, so she has to wait a few more minutes.

When the real Steve arrives, Rachelle powers through the Presidio and into one of the nicest neighborhoods in San Francisco, Seacliff. Van 2 is told, "Stay out!" and drives around to the Palace of the Legion of Honor to await her appearance. Rachelle streaks down the hills and out onto the Great Highway. At one point pushing hard towards signals wishing that they are the exchange, except they aren't.

At the exchange on the Great Highway near the San Francisco Zoo, Van 2 discovers the coldest toilets in the world. Stainless steel and fit for a jail cell, most of the runner's legs can't handle the hover technique. Thankfully, dry skin was available otherwise some members of the team might have been stuck down like tongues to stop signs on a Minnesota winter day, requiring warm water extraction.

Tiffany is off on Skyline Blvd and collects her first roadkill on leg 20. Tri Curious is catching teams with regularity, and the hash marks on the side are gleefully applied at each exchange.

The competition between the FMRC teams heats up when Jim runs again. Tri Curious is closing the gap. Rich Archer from CRMF is dancing after realizing that he's maintained a lead. Asked why he's so happy, Tri Curious learns of a CRMF team mandate. Whoever gets roadkilled by Tri Curious will be walking home. In fact the CRMF team has been watching the gap close all night and is now hanging around the exchanges to accurately measure their diminishing lead.

Ralph runs in the dawn of Sunday morning, watching the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay and Mount Diablo from the ridge atop Millbrae. He collects his first roadkill on this short 4-mile leg along Interstate 280 into Hillsborough. Although after the ranch leg, even little climbs have become a problem.

The morning mist is rising off of the lake and it is a glorious to be alive and having an adventure with 12 of our smelliest friends. Rachelle is performing odor combat in the van attaching lavender and other aromatherapies to the ceiling vents.

Jason runs along Crystal Spring Reservoir collecting roadkills. The downhill was great until someone snuck a hill into his leg. "Where did that come from?" he muses later, "I didn't see that one on the map."

Karen takes off and immediately starts collecting roadkill. One lady roadkill complains to the Tri Curious mother ship as she goes by: "It's not fair. Her legs are twice as long as mine. If I had legs that long I'd run that fast too." As Van 2 passes Karen on the road, she's doing her best Babe Ruth imitation, pointing out her next victim up the road.

Moments later, Van 2 passes a young male runner who is promptly dubbed Hollywood as he asks us for sunglasses. "What's he thinking?" Van 2 wonders. "Get your own sunglasses." Hollywood is shortly in Karen's sights, but he's proud and doesn't want to be passed by a girl, regardless of how long her legs are. Hollywood hangs on to Karen's pace for as long as he can. The last time we saw him, he was spitting up blood on the side of the road…. but he had sunglasses on.

Van exchanges are getting crowded. Teams that started 4 hours earlier than us are falling by the wayside. Van 1 spends the night at the van exchange across the highway from Cañada College, not realizing that there was indoor sleeping, plumbing and food across the way. Sometime during the night, Cliff sneaks away with Van 1 and refuels without anyone noticing.

Jason is hurting after his second leg. After a real shower, he is off to a massage table at Cañada College or Canada College as Jim, our token Canadian, called it, eh? The ladies are laughing when they emerge from the locker room about how some of the competition is applying makeup in preparation for their runs in the quarry. The breakfast makings are slim pickings here, so Van 2 heads south to Saratoga for a little nosh and the drive up Highway 9 to the top of Santa Cruz Mountains to await Van 1.


Chapter 3 - Legs 25-36, Redwood City to the Beach at Santa Cruz
If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space. Anonymous

Kelby now crosses over from the West side of the hills to the east side where Sarah, and Barb run past Stanford Jr. University, which should not be confused with a real university (Go Bears!). Now the climbing begins in earnest. Mary has been hill training for months getting ready for her last leg, which is the climb through Stevens Canyon on the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. She later reports that this leg is not as difficult as she had feared. Joe on the next leg has an entirely different report as he has one of the shortest but hardest legs, a three mile, 1100' climb up to Camp Swig. He later tells everyone, "Don't make big guys run up mountains!"

Barb, the third runner in Van 1, is already on road by the time Van 2 reaches the quaint downtown of Saratoga at the bottom of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the end of cell phone range. Four miles up the mountain, Van 2 merges onto the course at Camp Swig, 3 miles from the summit where leg 30 starts, and drives past runners climbing the mountain. This is spectator sport fit for masochists, the kind of people who would have enjoyed watching the Bataan death march. These runners are doing their third and final leg, an 1100' climb and are working as hard as they can to get to the summit.

Meanwhile at the top of the mountain, an overzealous ranger starts enforcing the law. If he can't find a reasonable law to enforce, he looks for a petty law to enforce and makes a general nuisance of himself. Whatever happened to the nice rangers, the ones who tell you which plants to eat and which ones not to use as toilet paper?

Cell phones don't work here, so the walkie-talkies are brought into play. Van 2 keeps clicking, hoping to hear from Van 1. Where is Steve Meagher? CRMF is awaiting their runner, Steve Cramer. Who will crest the mountain first in the battle of the Steve's? The question is answered when CRMF's Cramer shows up at the top of the hill and the gap is ten minutes before Steve Meagher shows up.

At this point, mothers start shielding their children's' eyes, roars of laughter come up from the assembled FMRCers as Steve in a delusional moment has elected to wear an FMRC Jog Bra for his last leg. After this, he is now thinking about FMRC team thongs for running attire.

Now the battle is on for the FMRC title. All that's left is 35 mostly downhill miles to Santa Cruz. CRMF's Todd "broken foot" Anderson runs the finest 10K of his life breaking 40 minutes on a 6.2 mile section with 1400' drop. Tri Curious' Rachelle charges down behind him with her own PR, demolishing her previous best by a full seven minutes with a 40-minute mark of her own.

Tiffany "Picabo" Deusebio straps on her skis next, gets into her tuck and points the tips downhill. She starts collecting roadkill faster than a crocodile during the wildebeest migration. Jason gets into the game, offering friendly advice from the Van 2 window to runners in her path. "There's a girl about to catch you!"

Tiffany closes the gap on CRMF and the Tri Curious folks are chastised by the volunteers for showing too much enthusiasm. We cheer everyone (except the people dressed like cows - a little too creepy for Van 2 and disliked by Van 1). In fact, we travel much of the course with the same teams, seeing them again and again. The hotties on the Texas Starbutts and the Cal Poly Tri Club (Tri it Slo) receive loud cheers as Van 2 passes by time and again.

Jim Brody takes off down the hill through the Deliverance country of the Santa Cruz Mountains into Ben Lomond. It's a cross between West Virginia and the geriatric ward from Woodstock. In fact, a white haired, white bearded, toothless, Jerry Garcia wannabe with his electric guitar is taking requests on the park bench in the middle of the exchange. The only request he won't take is "Go away." Jim careens down the course and brings Tri Curious to within 30 seconds of CRMF at the end of leg 33. Not bad for a guy still recovering from surgery.

The day is warming and while in the redwoods, all is well. The sunny areas are becoming uncomfortable. Ralph takes off down the hill and gets 4 roadkill in the first few miles. Team vans litter the course everywhere they can squeeze. Some cheer for their own; some cheer for others. One coed team from Canada (Beasts and Beavers) does the wave as he goes by. Another says, "Great uniform, you're fast enough to wear it." Things are about to go horribly wrong.

After passing Ralph, the van misses the turn and is off looking for CRMF's strongest runner, Al Kirsininkas, who after a "Win one for the Gipper" locker room talk (you should have smelled that van) streaks off and is nowhere to be seen. Ralph begs a water bottle from a random lady standing on the side of the road next to an even more random (white) team van. He makes the turn on the road leading up into the quarry and is faced with a hill of biblical proportions.

Feeling like a sprinter on Alpe D'Huez, he heads up the hill but is quickly reduced to a power walk. This hill is more merciful than the ranch leg, as it has some less steep spots, where running is possible. The Yahoo! runner goes by with a nice word (later Jason and Karen would put 5 minutes on that team on the way to the beach) and other team vans on the course offer nice words, "Only 1.3 miles to go!" "Gimme a break," Ralph grumbles in return. Van 2 passes Ralph on a flatter section and he is proud that he is actually running as they go by.

After Van 2 heads around the corner, the grade kicks up into proportions where pitons and ropes are appropriate. Holding on for life, Ralph sights a runner ahead who is also power walking the hill. When that guy runs, Ralph runs too and runs a few extra steps, closing the gap ever so slightly. Half a mile from the top, he collects his final roadkill of the race and hears the best words of the day from a lady standing at a bend in the road, "The finish is right around the corner." That is enough to get him running or what at least passes for running. Tiffany comes down from the exchange to run in with him, offering encouragement. A prescient relay worker tells her, "He's not doing that well." Yeah, no kidding. That's why Tiffany is trying to help.

After the final quarter mile and a hand off to Jason, Ralph asks Al hopefully, "Did you have to walk any of that?" Al loves the heat and challenge. He had made like Lance Armstrong opening the gap to 10 minutes, while Ralph has done his best imitation of a Jan Ullrich bonk. In fact, the Santa Cruz locals say that, on a quiet night around dusk, when the wind's just right, you can still hear the pitter-patter of Ralph's feet echoing through the quarry, chasing endlessly in vain to contain his losses.

Will Tri Curious be able to close this gap with only two legs left? Jason has to fight his way through the rest of the quarry. He climbs the hill intent on closing the gap that has opened up between him and the CRMF runner, Jim Alton. At the top of the hill, Van 2 catches him and does a moving water bottle pass and heads down the road looking for a pullout. These are at a premium here and Van 2 has to wait until they can find one that isn't already occupied by team vans. While the night before, seeing another team was a rarity, every 15 passenger white van in Northern California seems to be parked on the course now.

Van 2 finds a spot next to the Mission Peak Striders who were the source of amusement for CRMF earlier in the race. One of their runners had been lustfully trying to get Jim Alton's Boston Marathon jacket "Give me your jacket and I'll flash you" this siren had said. When rebuffed she then asked, "What do I have to do to get that jacket?" The right answer, judging by her age, was run about a 3:45 marathon. These sirens have figured out that we have two runners on the course (you have to love our highly visible uniforms), and have asked both Jim and Jason to flash as they drove by.

Jim Alton comes barreling down the hill, running for his life, but slows long enough to flash the Mission Peak Striders and moves along. Jason electing to run topless, collects five more roadkill and narrows the gap again by a few minutes.

For a finish worthy of the Amazing Race, the final leg is on and CRMF's anchorman, Larry, takes the baton and is now running like a lemming hell bent to get the sea regardless of the consequences. Karen is on the course a few minutes later and takes off after Larry. She collects six more roadkill as she charges through the streets of Santa Cruz.

Meanwhile at the finish line, both Van 1s have long since gathered for lunch and beer and await their anchor runners. Who will cross first? CRMF or Tri Curious? Will Karen catch Larry? Will Larry have to walk home? Both Van 2s arrive and park and the air is thick with anticipation. Teams are finishing every few minutes now and their teammates wait on the soft warm sand on a sunny afternoon to run in together celebrating their victory.

The racing is done and the celebration has begun, or has it? Larry bursts onto the beach charging for the finish line, another team's anchor lady (all 22 pounds of her) is unceremoniously hurled to the side for the last CRMF roadkill of the race, while Larry hurtles towards the finish line, his shoes slapping on the soft sand. The Tri Curious team looks hopefully towards the street, but CRMF claims the day as the first Forward Motion Race Club team to reach the beach. Karen comes in 4 minutes and 16 seconds later with a strong leg, but the gap is just too wide for her to overcome. Van 2 has collected a total of 50 roadkill. With Van 1's total of 35, Tri Curious has passed over a third of the field during the race.


Epilogue (Bragging Rights)
It is not the going out of port, but the coming in, that determines the success of a voyage.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Tri Curious finishes in 25:06:40, (7:33 pace) to place 4th in the Open Coed division. With 7 gals and 5 guys, Tri Curious outruns 90% of the field and establishes the first and all-time best FMRC course record. CRMF finishes 4:16 earlier, with a time of 26:02:24 averaging 7:51 per mile establishing the second and all-time worst FMRC Course record. But wait a second this math doesn't work out. CRMF beats Tri Curious to the beach and claims the crown with a slower time? Bewildered faces are all around until Tiffany points out, "You started an hour earlier, and we run with 7 girls and almost catch you anyway!"

Running as a team brought out the best from both groups and a lot of good-natured and some downright mean ribbing, but the experience is one that we'll all be talking about for years. The race within the race made the event much more entertaining for everyone. The Relay is moving to April next year and I suspect there are some foolhardy folks who'd be willing to challenge the course again.

Van 1 loads up and heads home and Van 2 wanders onto the Santa Cruz Pier for much deserved Mexican seafood dinner and pitchers of margaritas. Unfortunately the restaurant is on the second floor at the end of the pier and requires a lot of hobbling to reach. As the sun sets across the Pacific the team, resplendent in their hard earned medals and their cleanest, which isn't saying much, clothes over their hastily baby wiped bodies, is seated. Staying downwind from most of the patrons, they celebrate their success laughing about the fun that has been had and is yet to happen.

All that is left is the drive home and Van 2 pulls onto the highway for the last time. At least until the next relay when the Crazy Relayin' Slo' Mo' Fo's are recorded as roadkill on the side of a Tri Curious van!

Postscript.

by Jim Brody.
It was cool and windy when I opened the van door,
Tiffany came running with the pedal to the floor,
It was my time to go and I was ready,
I hoped I would run fast and steady.
My heart rate was high, but I was indolent.
A recent surgery was my sentence.
I really tried hard, but my legs would not move.

After two slow legs, I had something to prove.
The sun was shining and I was ready to go.
I told myself that I wasn't going to run slow.
The Mo-Fo's were over 5 minutes in advance.
I felt very good; I thought I had a chance.
I ran like the wind, with roadkill in sight.
Passing 12 people, I ran with all my might.
I got within 30 seconds, but couldn't close the gap.
Then mighty Ralph ran, and soon felt like crap.

At the end Tri Curious won the war.
Rest assured there would be more.
I am sure there are more than a few.
That will be ready for round two.

 
   
   
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