New Hampshire RTB Relay 2011: The Crazy before the Calm
|September 27, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Running|
Relay season has officially ended.
Okay, so it technically ended a week ago when Team Buttermore crossed the finish line of the 13th Reach the Beach NH relay. But since I haven’t been able to blog about it until now, today is the day that gets to official designation.
You may be wondering why I waited so long to tell you about my experience running the 2011 RTB relay. After all, I’ve been known to talk about the magic that is the 200-mile relay to every person who will listen. But I’m going to be all mysterious and tell you that I haven’t been able to blog for reasons best left off the blog. It may be over a week later, but the story does still need telling. And I hope I don’t lose any of the excitement in my telling of it.
For the past few years, the New Hampshire Reach the Beach Relay has been how I’ve ended my summer. It’s usually held the very last weekend of summer, and it’s traditionally so cold while we’re up in those NH mountains that it’s easy to believe fall has arrived. I can’t think of a better way to close out a season than to run my favorite type of race. And this year was even better. This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to run four relays in one summer – to have an actual “relay season.” As I ran across that RTB finish line with my teammates, I couldn’t help but think about how much joy I’ve gotten out of these races over the past few months.
But – we didn’t exactly get to this point smoothly. Whether it’s losing runners on the course, showing up at transitions before they’re even opened, or getting stuck in awful traffic, no relay is without its share of craziness. Of all the relays I’ve ever done, however, the 2011 RTB took the cake! Except this time, most things went wrong before we even got up to New Hampshire for the start.
In hindsight, I think it must have been because of our name. We should have known when we chose it we would be cursed. But it seemed like such a good idea at the time…
Remember last year when we got to the start at Cannon Mountain and realized that one of our runners just wasn’t going to show? The mysterious Buttermore, who left us with extra legs to run and became the brunt of all jokes for the entire weekend.
The question of the weekend – from the 2010 New Hampshire Reach the Beach relay.
Well, since we never did find him, we figured 2011 would be a good time to take up our search once again. And so we christened our motley crew Team Buttermore in his honor.
And that, my friends, is where I think all the troubles started. Buttermore was back to get us again.
So before I tell you about what went right, let me share a little bit about what went wrong:
1.) Runners dropping like flies. You have to sign up for these relays pretty far in advance, so we had expected some amount of drop out as the race got closer. People get injured, or sick, or just too busy, but it’s usually nothing a little shuffling around can’t solve. This year, we had people dropping out up until the week before the race. Do you know how hard it can be to not only find someone crazy enough to agree to take a day off of work just so that they stay awake for over 24 hours and run through hilly New Hampshire, but to find that person at the absolute last minute? Luckily, our team was finally able to rope in a couple of guys who fit the bill – one who had never run a race in his life. But more about that later.
2.) Hurricane Irene. You know a storm did major damage when weeks after it hits, race organizers still aren’t sure if we’ll be able to run across a washed out section of road. RTB officials finally made the call the week of the race – we were switching to Plan B. A plan which meant that my first leg went from just under 9 miles to 3.3, and my total mileage dropped from 22 to 17. I know you all won’t be surprised when I tell you I was bummed about those 5 missing miles. In the end, EC was nice enough to switch with me, taking on my first leg and giving me his 19 miles.
3.) Non-existent van reservations. Reach the Beach NH is the biggest relay in all of New England. No, I don’t have any facts to back that up but it has to be true. The thing sells out 6 months in advance, and every van rental place across New England has rented its vans by February. So when Adventure Vehicle Rental called a few weeks before the relay to tell us there had been a mistake, we knew we were in trouble. Apparently the reservation that they had given Becky over a month ago didn’t actually exist. There were no vans. And the kicker to this entire thing? They had actually realized their mistake the day after they took Becky‘s credit card information. Yet it has just “slipped their mind” to call us. An honest mistake, right? Not exactly. Because of this, we were left scrambling. There wasn’t a van to be found within a 50 mile radius! In the end, we decided to rent two suburbans and hope that it would be enough space. (And for the record, I will never rent from Adventure Vehicle Rental again. Not only did they completely screw up, but they never actually offered to do anything to fix the problem. Their attitude was just: “Oh well, that’s too bad. Have a nice life.” Customer service at its finest.)
4.) Missing shirts. Late in the game, the team decided to order t-shirts for the relay. I designed shirts in Spreadshirt, put the order in and waited. And waited….and waited. In hindsight, I probably should have selected a rushed shipping option, just to be safe. But I’ve ordered from Spreadshirt in the past, and things have always been delivered really quickly. I had plenty of time according to their estimated shipping window, and I figured everything would be fine. But as the days passed and the shirts weren’t looking like they had even been shipped, I got increasingly nervous. The week of the race, I was told that sometimes production does take longer than promised and that there was nothing I could do at this point except refuse delivery. All my finger crossing and hoping that the package would magically show up in time wasn’t enough – the shirts arrived while we were racing through New Hampshire. Not much good they did me then.
5.) Durangos. And the craziness didn’t end there. When Becky went to pick up the vans on Thursday night before the race, instead of two suburbans, she found one durango and one suburban waiting for her. Apparently those two cars are in the same class, so companies rent them out interchangeably. And even though she had called multiple times to confirm the fact that she had Suburbans waiting for her, the company didn’t see the difference between what she asked for, and what they gave her. I’m not going to lie to you here – a Durango is small. Especially when you’re trying to pack 6 people and all their gear and food into it for an entire weekend. There may have been quite a few tears of frustration shed between Thursday night and Friday morning, thinking about how the heck we were going to make this thing work. Finally, after many frantic phone calls to teammates and rental places, we were able to find a minivan at the Enterprise at Logan Airport. We just had to drive to Boston through morning rush hour traffic to get it.
Finally, over an hour after we were supposed to have arrived, Becky, Sean, EC and I met up with our team in NH driving one suburban and one minivan. We were a motley crew, but we were ready. We booked it up to Cannon Mountain and picked up our bibs, went through the safety checks and lined up on the starting line with only minutes to spare. The race hadn’t even started and our adrenaline was already through the roof!
With all that had gone wrong all ready, we could only hope that we’d be in for smooth sailing once that gun went off.
Next up: The relay is run! And a possible encounter with Buttermore himself…