One Run For Boston Relay Recap

There is a little baton named Miles Junior who spent the last month traveling in the sweaty hands of runners across the country.  He made it to his final destination, the Finish Line on Bolyston Street in Boston, yesterday evening and served as a symbol of the solidarity against the senseless act of terrorism that hijacked The Boston Marathon last year.  (Miles Senior, who made his way across the country last June, lives at the BAA offices).

Photo from Danny Bent, One Run For Boston

But three weeks ago, Miles Junior was hanging out here in New Mexico, and Aaron, my dad, and I had the distinct privilege of carrying him for almost 35 miles between us in his cross-country journey.

To catch up anyone sitting there like, “HUH?”: The One Run For Boston is a cross-country relay that started in Santa Monica, CA on March 16th and ended in Boston yesterday, moving 24 hours a day, rain or shine (or tornadoes as the case was in Missouri). The concept was created by three British mates (see, I can hang with the British lingo!) who felt the overwhelming need to help the people of Boston who were affected by the bombings.  Last year, they dreamed up this cross-country relay and brought it to fruition, and we were part of the inaugural run (you can read that recap HERE).  Round Two was organized to conclude near the one-year anniversary of the bombings.

This year, we signed up for stages on Sunday, March 23rd somewhere in the western part of the state, south of Albuquerque. While our stages this year were much closer to home than last year’s, we still decided to drive an hour south and stay in a small town called Socorro overnight to prevent a very early morning trek out to Middle of Nowhere.

This year, we also decided to take Giuseppe with us on his first big overnight adventure.

America's Best Value Inn...truthfully not terrible

America’s Best Value Inn…truthfully not terrible

Unfortunately, Giuseppe was on edge all night in the strange environment with strange sounds, and an unusually high number of people seemed to arrive at midnight, so none of us Lavenders got very much sleep.  Aaron’s stage started at about 6:30 about an hour and a half away from the motel, so we got up at about 4:00 am after what I would call a 2-hour nighttime nap.

My dad had opted to stay in a small motel closer to Aaron’s start (smart man, that father of mine), so we drove out to pick him up before heading to the meeting point of  County Road A095 (thank goodness the relay organizers provided coordinates, because we could just copy them into our GPS to get an exact location instead of trying to find A095 on our own in the dark open wilderness).

When we arrived at the start of Aaron’s stage, a man was waiting there for us in a pickup truck.  That man, Scott, who flew in from Pennsylvania, had been traveling with the relay since Phoenix.  His brother Will, who came in from Fort Collins, CO was the current runner with the baton.  Will, who we met last year during the relay, was being supported by a woman from Phoenix named Amanda, and the Brits, Danny and Kate, who are some of the most awesome people you will ever meet, were with them.

We climbed out of the car to meet Scott (and gave hugs because this group of people is kind of obsessed with them), and realized that it was in fact freezing in a very unexpected way.  About 17 degrees actually.  When Amanda drove up, she was wearing an actual adult onsie covered in rubber ducks that they found in a K-Mart to keep her warm because she was similarly not anticipating an encounter with the tundra.

As we were all talking and devouring some Breaking Bad donuts that I brought, we saw a light slowly bouncing its way towards us, which turns out was Kate running with the Baton.  Aaron prepared himself as best he could for the frigid 13 miler he was about to embark on.

Since the relay had fallen about half an hour behind, Aaron wasted absolutely no time in the hand-off (plus, it was cold and we all wanted to be back in our warm cars).  With little to-do, Aaron started his stage into the sunrise.  He reported later that ice formed on his beard.

20140414-123650.jpg

Aaron and Kate in a very cold Baton hand-off.

20140413-214129.jpg

As the sun came up, the temperature rose, and each time I stopped to give Aaron some water, he stripped off some layers.  We slowly made our way closer and closer to Pie Town, NM where I would take over baton duties from Aaron.

20140413-214213.jpg

Aaron and his sushi hat…I can’t make him stop wearing it!

1959444_414250205377461_331734150_n

Photo from Danny Bent, One Run For Boston

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of Pie Town before this relay, but apparently it is well know for (wait for it…) PIE.  There are exactly two pie establishments in Pie Town and maybe 2 non-pie establishments.  The place is tiny, but I was so excited to get to run through a place dedicated to Pie! Sadly, there was no pie to be had in Pie Town.  Things didn’t open up until about 10:00 am, and despite some begging from some cold runners and friendly Brits, no doors were opened.

Thanks to Aaron’s super fast running skills, he ran into Pie Town about a half hour ahead of schedule.  I asked the Brits if they’d rather we wait for a bit in order to keep the relay on time, or if I should just go for it.  They decided it was best for me to keep going in case we got behind later in the day, so Aaron and I did our symbolic hand-off, and I started running. But first, I had to take a Miles Selfie in front of a Pie Town sign.

1964962_414250115377470_388496921_n 20140413-214232.jpg

It was now almost 9:00 am, the sun was up, and the temperatures were warm enough for me to strip off my Boston Marathon long-sleeve pretty early into my stage.  This year, unlike last year, we were so far ahead of schedule, that I had the luxury of really just enjoying my run.  I was able to enjoy the scenery, take photos, and even upload some to the facebook group and instagram when I had data and cell service.

20140413-214247.jpg

IMG_8270 - Copy IMG_8258 - Copy

This year, Toyota donated the relay support vehicle, so Danny and Kate made it across the country in style, plus the car doubled as a moving autograph wall for runners to sign.  Danny and Kate were great cheerleaders, blasting music next to me as I ran (they were belting out some song that I truthfully didn’t know, but it was nice all the same).

20140413-214157.jpg

My support car with Aaron, my dad, and Giuseppe stopped every couple of miles to cheer me on with water and snacks.

IMG_8272 - Copy

What support crews do in Middle of Nowhere

It turns out that I had the highest elevation point of the relay.  I was a bit worried, because 8,100 feet is about 2,000 feet higher than Albuquerque, but overall I was feeling pretty good and only noticed the lack of oxygen a couple of times.  Whereas Aaron had the steep uphills, I had the long uphills,and while a year ago that might have been an issue for me, (uphill is my weakness in a big way), I actually felt really strong pounding out the uphill miles. At some point I crossed over the Continental Divide which was kind of cool (less cool though because I didn’t actually see the sign, and I had planned on a Miles Selfie).

After that curve, the uphill keeps going.

After that curve, the uphill keeps going.

The highest point was pretty easy to identify based on my ability to inhale, and after I hit the summit, the rest of the stage was glorious downhill.

Miles had been redesigned this year and was much easier to hold.  I actually feel like I bonded more with him this year as we braved the wild west. I started thinking about all of the people who had held him before me, and all of the people who would hold him after, and as I was taking Miles Selfie pictures, I imagined all of the places that he would see and the landscapes that he would run though.  He might be the most personified cylinder of plastic that I’ve ever met!

Before I knew it, I could spot the entourage at the side of the road, signaling that my 12 miles were almost up.

In addition to my support crew, I had hundreds of people following along via the facebook group (there was some sort of glitch with the baton tracker GPS for about 2 days, so they couldn’t see exactly where we were), and I was sad to know, that once again, my time carrying the baton for Boston and for the survivors was coming to an end.

My dad was taking over the baton for me, but two other people had signed up to run with him. We were still running ahead of schedule, and the other runners hadn’t made it to the meeting point yet, and this was one of those points without cell service.  This turned out to be a good thing because Will, the IT guru of the relay who knew the secret to all baton issues, needed to do some surgery.

HOW MANY RUNNERS DOES IT TAKE TO FIX A BATON?

HOW MANY RUNNERS DOES IT TAKE TO FIX A BATON?

DeAnza is also from Albuquerque and she had three adorable little kids with her (her husband is serving with the military in Korea).  Steve is a track coach/cowboy from a small town in that area called Magdalena, and looked to be a pretty serious runner type.  He had his daughter, son-in-law, and adorable grandson with him.

Even though there wasn’t a true hand-off, they still headed into their 9 mile stage with a bang.

20140413-214336.jpg

As they made their way with plenty of support from other people, Aaron and I took this opportunity to head toward their finishing point and take a nap.

About an hour later, slightly more rested than before, we saw the trio triumphantly running their last little bit, and I snapped a picture that was actually used in a USA Today video about the event!

20140413-214417.jpg

They came to the end of their stage in a small town called Datil, and handed the Baton off to Matt, a runner from Albuquerque (originally from Boston) who was one of the qualifiers who didn’t get a spot in this year’s marathon.

As Matt made his way across New Mexico, we continued to bond with Brits, make friends with runners who had stages later in the day, and check out Very Large Array, which is a huge field of satellites in the middle of New Mexico.

1982181_414249892044159_1365774811_n IMG_8275 - Copy

And, I am happy to report that in all, I only had to pee on the side of the road TWICE this year which is about 1/3 of the amount of times I had to last year.  I consider this a One Run For Boston victory.

Overall, I will say that the whole experience felt different this year, though not necessarily in a bad way.  Last year, there were less runners and the focus was on getting the baton across the country.  This year, the focus was on raising as much money as possible for the people most affected by the bombings.  Everything felt far more emotional this year, and I can’t imagine what the atmosphere must have been like when the baton crossed the finish line last night, led by the survivors of the attacks.

Everyone is in a process of healing, and with the upcoming anniversary, I’ve heard that people from  Boston are feeling very stressed and emotions are running high. I’m glad that an event like this exists to help facilitate some positivity and hope, and even possibly the celebration of resilience.  Walkers/runners/people in wheelchairs were all invited to participate. To date, we have raised over $434,000 for the One Fund. People like me who couldn’t be at the finish line this year were able to run in solidarity with more than 2,000 baton-carriers across the country. The little baton I held for 12 miles was also carried by people who have overcome so much to be running today. Sometimes I forget that people are willing to stand up and help those in need.  An event like this shows just how much can be accomplished by some big ideas and some running shoes.

And that is absolutely amazing.

LOVE this photo of me taking a photo! Courtesy of Danny Bent

LOVE this photo of me taking a photo! Courtesy of Danny Bent

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

A special thanks to the wonderful blog friends who donated to my run: Hyedi, Dan, and Dominick.  You can still donate HERE to the One Fund via my One Run For Boston fundraising page.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “One Run For Boston Relay Recap

    • Oh no! I think the 10 minute/mile thing kept a bunch of people away, but it seems like they were being super flexible this year, especially during the group stages. They’ve already said they plan to do another relay next year, so I hope you can participate then!

      I’m so happy that the relay got a ton of media attention this year! I loved seeing the video footage from the last stages on Sunday.

  1. Lovely, moving entry. I’m sure everyone who participated in this fundraiser was touched in one way or another by the outpouring of help and support. You perfectly captured not only the fun and unpredictable elements of running a relay “race,” but also why running can be such a unifying sport. It’s almost crazy to think that the sport is a solo endeavor at its core — it never feels that way.

    Though you won’t be at Boston, your contributions, efforts and entries have certainly had their effect — there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll be a part of the event from Hopkington to Boylston Street.

    I also found myself wondering more than once, but what is Giuseppe doing right now? I have two tiny Shih Tzus and my wife took them to an 8k by our apartment once to spectate, and they HATED it.

    • Giuseppe was a little bit of a handful, I admit! We’ve trained him to run with us, and he was a bit upset that he couldn’t keep up with the relay (I didn’t want him running that close to traffic). But he did love all of the attention. The woman who ran with my dad had two young daughters who were happy to to baby-sit (while we kept him on his leash) and hand out lots of treats!

      And I agree about the running community. We just kind of bond together with almost no effort!

  2. Pingback: Book and Butter |

  3. Great recap of your experience and Miles Jr definitely looked worse for the wear by the time he go to you. It’s been so fun to see all the individual photos and to watch the fundraising total jump over the past month, when I ran my leg meter was at about $90k so it definitely picked up as MJ made his way across the country!

    Next year I will have to meet the Brits, they headed to bed on the leg before me and my exchange was very brief on both ends which kind of makes me sad because you guys look like you had so much frickin fun!

    Great job to you and the family and thanks again for sharing this last year so that I could make sure to get involved this year. To comment on your point about big ideas and running shoes…I keep getting blown away by how great the running community is…I have a blog post coming eventually about it.

    • I’ve actually noticed both this year and last year that people get far more into the relay the farther East it moves. It never takes off quite the same as far as support and excitement in California as it does in places like Missouri or New York. I am glad that our stages are more remote and individual though. I think it would be overwhelming to participate in one of the big stages. And Danny and Kate are wonderful! I’m sad that you didn’t get to meet them, but hopefully next time around!

  4. Great post and photos, as usual, Amy. Thanks for sharing insights from your experience with this awesome relay. And great job on the number of pee stops!

Please leave some commentation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s