Tuna Run 200 Relay
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Tuna Run 200 Relay - Run
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What it is
200.6 miles (technically 206.5 miles due to few oops)
The team met up in a parking lot at 5am on Friday to load up the vans with people and assorted gear. We had 12 runners and two drivers along with two alternate drivers. The drivers and alternates had picked up 15-passenger vans from the rental place at lunch on Thursday. We loaded the vans and headed to the run start area at Lake Benson Park, about 30 minutes away. My team had a 6:30 start time. We saw the 6:00 runners start just as we were parking. We took team photos at the start and saw off our first runner. Van 1 then went to the next exchange because they would be on until the exchange from 6-7 which was also a van exchange. Van 2 went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I was in Van 2.
We took our time at breakfast and then Lisa, my seat mate, wanted to got to Starbucks so we did that and then headed to the van exchange. By now it was pretty warm out so we got out our glass chalk and decorated the windows of our van. We still had a lot of downtime so I went around the parking lot tagging other unsuspecting vans with our team name by putting a #mimosa sign somewhere on their windows. Anyway, we goofed off until our van was up at 12:45.
You may have noticed that so far we have had breakfast, had coffee and goofed off. Now we have runners on course. It was significantly warmer (10-12 degrees) than predicted and there was no shade so we drove along the course half the distance to the next exchange. When we saw our runner, Mariana, approaching, we got out of the van to top off her water. She handed me her bottle, said she wanted water, I ran ahead to another van mate and got a bottle of water, opened her handheld and topped it off and then caught up with Mariana and gave her back her bottle. Then we went ahead to the exchange zone and got our second runner ready to go. We continued to do this until about 3:00.
By this time, I have realized that although I was promised lunch, that ship had sailed. I had some Lance crackers and a banana and then a few hours later had snacked some more. One of the runners was married to our driver. She was hungry and said, after we get Joe running, let's get go over here and get something to eat. One of the other vans said it's not far out of the way. So the driver went to this place not far out of the way dropped off his wife and another runner (Phil) and then went back to check on Joe who was on the course. I am realizing that we have a problem because Joe is a fast runner and he had a short leg and I am up next. The driver turned to go back and get his wife and I said, "I need to get to the next exchange." The driver continues. I repeated, "I need to the next exchange." Hesitation from the driver. "Take me to the next change." The van careens around and they drop me off. I get in the long line for the rest room and then realize, "Sh*t! I don't have my number." I use the rest room and then find a volunteer to see if we can make me a number. They call HQ and find a marker but now I need safety pins. I find another team that has safety pins in their van and pin the temporary number to my shirt. My van pulls in and they say do I need anything? I'm pretty stressed/angry/pissed at this point. Joe will be here in about 5 minutes. I crawl back and grab my race belt and take off the temporary number.
The exchange with Joe went fine. I ran my first mile pretty fast. I was angry. Then I settled down and the rest of the leg went fine and I was no longer angry or upset by the time my leg was done.
Leg 10 (1 of 3)
My van's first wet of legs was done by 6:15 or so and we then went to find dinner. We had dinner at a nice place in Mount Olive and then made our way but what seemed to be a very indirect route to the next van exchange (Pink Hill Elementary School) and caught a little bit of sleep (2-3 hours). Some people slept in the parking lot but I stayed in the van. I got maybe three hours of sleep. My van's next runner started at about 1:00AM.
When Van 1 met us at the van exchange, they said they were not setting up their tent. We noted where they were parked, met their last runner and Joe from our van took the "baton," and shuttle their last runner back to her van before meeting up with Joe mid run. He gave us the thumbs up and we went on to the next exchange point. We continued this pattern for the next several runners.
My night leg was at 2:45 in the the morning. I dropped the bracelet at the exchange (the event uses a slap band bracelet for the "baton") because I could not see it due the incoming runner's head lamp. The moon was almost full. While I was running, I saw several other team vans along then side of the road with their flashers on. Most of them clapped or said something as I went by. The roads were heavily patrolled by the county sheriff. I was passed six or eight times during the 50 minutes I was running. I came to a turn with one mile to go until the exchange zone. The course markers had reflective stripes on them and I could not see the arrow because of the reflection. I thought it was a left turn and I turned left but did not see a course marker. I turned around and I did not see a course marker, I went back to the overly reflective sign to check again and just as I saw the left arrow, another team came by and yelled, "Turn left!"
I made it to the exchange and took off my head lamp as I approached the next runner. I didn't want to blind him!
Leg 21 (2 of 3)
As I was going back to our van, another runner approached us and asked for a lift. He said that his team and abandoned him! They made a plan to have the last first three runners from the overnight do their runs and let the last three runners sleep. The van went back to get the sleeping runners and somehow never circled back to get him. He said that his name was Brian from the team Durham Public Tuna. We asked where they were from and he said, "Most of us are from Morrisville." Even at o'dark thirty I saw the disconnect with the name. We asked if he wanted to text his team to tell them where he was and he said that his phone was dead. We found a charger for him to use and headed to the next exchange. His phone booted up and he called them. His van met us there. This is when we saw that someone had helpfully erased the Ls from some the name on the van (yes, the inner 12-year-old came out in some runners, Durham Pubic Tuna...). His team asked for him back and we said maybe we want to keep him. How fast does he run?
We did a few more exchanges and then our final runner for the night rotation was on the course. We got a message from Van 1. "Tent and two warm sleeping bags are being left. It was to wet to avoid ruining it. Sleeps 4 comfortably." Right away the people in Van 2 (my van) were on it. We don't want the tent. We don't want to double back for them. We had already decided to head for the pancake breakfast at the next/final van exchange. Van 1 responded, "We've already left. No time to turn back to get it." We were insistent. We don't want the tent. Van 1 said, "Runner may have to wait for us." We kept our fingers crossed that we weren't screwing the team as a whole and went on to the van exchange to meet our final overnight runner. When we got there, Van 1 was already there. They kind of glared at us but their runner was out. Our final runner for that leg finished up at 5:50. We drove to breakfast and it was perhaps 30 miles.
During the early morning hours and especially at breakfast, I started to have a bit deja vu. I could swear that one of the exchanges was a rest stop for Cycle North Carolina and then, at the pancake breakfast, that was the same sort of setup as CNC. Ah ha! Tuna Run is like Cycle North Carolina but for RUNNERS!
Van 2 had a leisurely breakfast. We were all sick of sitting in the van so we hung around in the church cafeteria and that was fun. All the while we were getting texts from Van 2 with their progress. The team was falling further and further behind schedule. One runner got lost and ran a few extra miles. We did the math and started to worry that we would not make the cut off. One of our runners suggested talk to the volunteers about running concurrently with Van 1. They volunteer said that it was up to us but feel free to go for it. This meant that while Van 1 was running leg #28, Van 2 would start running leg #30 and while Van 1 was running leg #29, Van 2 would run leg #31. Then Van 1 would be done and head to the finish line and we'd continue with legs 32-36. Van 2 followed the program.
Van 1 decided that they just wanted to be done (we found this out at the team dinner afterward). They started leg 28 and 29 at the same time. They dropped off Teri and leg 28 and they dropped of Raj at leg 30. Did you catch that? Raj was running leg 29 but they dropped him of at leg 30. Raj had a 2.6 mile leg. We saw a text from him, "Guys can u check how much my leg was. I am into 4 and did not bring water thinking 2.5." We see the response, "We will pick u up off of road. Heading toward you now." Then, about 15 minutes later, we see, "Raj in. He did, uh, extra credit." At this point, Van 2 thinks that Van 1 has lost another runner. Esther got lost twice and now Raj! What is going on?! Van 1 went back and talked to the check in volunteer and leg 30 and had the 4.x miles count for the 2.6 mile leg. Yikes!
Shortly after this, I had my final leg. 7.25 miles along Emerald Isle, mostly on the bike path. The run was uneventful. Since Van 1 still had the "baton" we were using Power Ups and Fist Bumps to "pass" to the next runner.
Leg 34 (3 of 3)
We agreed to run the final mile in to the finish. The final block sounded lame and at that point, what's another mile? We agree to run or run/walk at whatever pace seemed good at the time. Math not being our driver's strong suit, he dropped us off with two to go. Oops! We made it in, got our medals, beer, bbq, tuna... Then showered and team dinner.
Kevin drove from Raleigh for the finish which was excellent. He joined us for the team dinner and provided shuttle service for me and two other runners to go back. I met the team at 12:30 on Sunday to clean up the van and that's all for Tuna Run 2015.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I wouldn't want to organize a team for it or even look for a team but if a team asked me to join, sure. That's not really a comment on the event itself, just me and overnight relays.
What would you do differently?:
We should have gotten sandwiches or brought pb&j or something to put in the cooler when we went to Starbucks on Friday morning. Then we could have something to eat between breakfast on and late dinner on Friday. There were some hangry runners by 7:30pm on Friday. I did snack but something more "meal like" might have been a better plan. Also, sleeping bag or blanket but not both. I actually didn't use either as intended. The sleeping bag in it's stuff sack worked as an extra pillow for me and that was fine.
Medals, team pictures, BBQ, tuna (of course). We finished at 3pm, the party was scheduled to start at 3pm. How were they out of the good beer at 3pm?!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
lack of sleep :-D
Good event. Super friendly volunteers. Well marked course. Good pre race communication.
If you promise good beer, have good beer.
More race merchandise would be great too! I really wanted a magnet and they sold out before I got there.
Last updated: 2015-09-18 12:00 AM
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Tuna Run 200 Relay
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Event description: This overnight relay starts just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina at Lake Benson Park in Garner and finishes on the beach in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina on the Crystal Coast.
Meet the team at Lake Benson.