Last month I ran in the DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay for the third straight year, on Bex’s team. The team members joked this year that we’re going to change our name from the Band of Outsiders to the 6:30 Club because every year the team counters some really good performances with some really challenging ones and the result is pretty much always the same, about eleven and a half hours for the 73.2 mile relay around the lake in seven legs. Given the 7 a.m. start, this puts our anchor leg always pulling into the finish at South Lake Tahoe at around 6:30 p.m. every year, Miller Time.
This year was no different as we finished at 6:39 p.m., slightly slower than last year’s 6:30 p.m. finish, which was slightly faster than the prior year’s 6:32 p.m. finish. Running through two states and past some incredible scenery, this race is a must-do. We’re always far off the winner’s time, which was under seven hours this year, but we have fun.
Eric ran the first leg in 1:20:18 (8:22), 9.6 miles of rolling hills in the cool of the morning past the casinos at State Line where the race leaves California and enters Nevada. He came within a minute of the team’s PR on this relatively easy leg. Remember, this is a race with hills at altitude (starting at 6200 feet), so even this “easy” leg is a difficult run for us flatlanders.
Eric handed off to me and I ran the shortest leg, 8.2 miles, in 1:18:01 (9:31). It was practically a mystical experience for me because this is the highest, hardest and hilliest leg, a killer. It literally made me sick. Maybe I'll tell you more about it in a future post.
Next up was K, who had a tough run. Her scenic 10.3 miles was mostly downhill, which aggravated a hip condition she had. She handed off to Bex after being out for 2:02:20 (11:53). (K on the left is done, Ashley still has a five and a half hour wait before her leg starts.)
Bex motored off on the longest leg, 12.3 miles which included a big uphill part. After re-entering California, she brought the baton home to J, an avid mountain biker, in 1:58:00 (9:36).
J was picking runners off right and left on his 10.6 mile run until about halfway through, where he discovered that being in condition for hard biking doesn’t necessarily correlate to running long and he was hobbled by knee problems. He gave back all of his passed runners and more before handing off to Ke in 1:54:57 (10:51).
Ke was new to the team, a runner we picked up the day before. A high school track coach, he had come to vacation in Lake Tahoe and could think of no more relaxing start to his time off than to run a very hard relay leg up in the mountains. We gave him the other hardest leg, comparable to my leg, a 10.5 mile run over large rolling hills that culminates in a steep, relentless mile and a half climb up a mountain pass. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Ke. I did this tough leg in 1:37:44 (9:18) last year and injured myself doing it (my hamstring seized up into a clenched, fiery ball 200 meters from the end). Ke was handling it very well until the last hill knocked down his time, but he still finished in a very nice time of 1:35:54 (9:03), setting the team's PR for the leg.
Ashley took it from there. Coming back from injuries, she returned to racing after a year of recovery with a time of 1:28:12 (8:24) on her 10.5 mile run back to the starting point, also setting a new team PR. Her scenic leg included a narrow shelf road portion with no shoulder where the roadway fell away steeply on both sides, and I was going to assist her along here by running with her as a spotter, but I couldn’t keep up with her quick pace and abandoned the effort. She picked off nine runners enroute to the finish so we finished 94th overall out of 150 teams.