This last Friday & Saturday I got to participate in the Cache-Teton Epic Relay. You have your team of 6 (Ultra team) or 12 (My team) and you run from Logan, UT to Teton Village near Jackson Hole, WY. It is an absolutely STUNNING course…unless you’re running at night & then you can’t see crap! Lol.
I love doing races like this. You make new friends, you have a good time, and you find out how well your body can run under little to no sleep. Lol.
I did this race 2 years ago and I was runner # 1 in van 1. This year, I was the first runner (runner 7) in van 2. I was excited because I got to see part of the course I didn’t get to see before.
I was supposed to start running at 11:30 a.m., but van 1 was a little slow going (it’s all good) so I didn’t start running until close to 1:00 p.m. on Friday. My first leg was 7.3 miles with lots of hills. I was nervous. First off, I was scared to death I was going to get lost. I had NO clue where I was going. Thank you to my van for staying close by so I didn’t get lost.
As I started out on my first leg, I started out too fast. I always do that. It can be frustrating. Then, I just wasn’t nutritioned enough. About mile 1.5 I stopped at my van & got a granola bar. That helped a little bit. I kept getting a side ache during this run though.
Finally about mile 4.5 it became all downhill!!! Yay!!! The bad thing is, I had the terrible side ache, so I still had to stop & walk every so often. I almost twisted my ankle on this leg too because as I was getting ready to run downhill, I looked to my left and there were probably 6 or so male deer. It caught me by surprise & they were so pretty that’s all I was paying attention to. Oops. Lol.
One thing that threw me off about running my first leg is I was the only one out on the course. This relay is a lot smaller than the Ragnar Relay’s. There were only 91 teams total. Because our team was running late (literally & figuratively), I was the only one out on the course at the time. It’s kind of nerve wracking.
I found it kind of cruel that when I got about .5 miles away from the exchange, you have to run by a water park. It was SO hot outside all I wanted to do was stop & go down the water slides and jump in the pool. Lol. I finished my first leg with an average 10:53 pace. Not ideal, but I finished.
I handed off to runner # 8 and we were ready to head to the next exchange. Everybody seemed to run pretty strong their first legs.
Because we had such a late start, in order for us to catch up so we didn’t finish the entire race at 11:00 p.m., after our last runner finished and we handed off back to van # 1, we had 2 hours to get something to eat, change our clothes & make it to the exchange. So…no sleep. Thankfully our team captain, her Aunt and Uncle live in Soda Springs, Idaho, so we were able to stop there and change our clothes, and take a shower if we wanted.
Before I knew it, I was running again. This time, it was at 11:30 p.m. I had my headlamp on and my butt light. They decided to deck me out with Christmas lights too. This run was 8.5 miles long. I actually felt stronger on this run, but my time was slower. I carried an 11:15 pace. I attribute part of it to having to stop for a few minutes to adjust my headlamp. It was too loose & kept slipping down my face. We had finally caught up with the rest of the teams this time so I was running with a lot more runners. What a difference it makes when you see other runners. It makes you run harder & faster because you want to catch up with them, ya know?
The first 2 miles of this were on pavement, the rest was on a dirt road/trail. I wish I would’ve known because I would have brought my trail running shoes. I could feel every pebble I stepped on. I ran up some of the hills, but had to walk some too. But was able to run the flats and downhill’s. I just wish I would’ve had a better time. I had one guy pass me & my nickname ended up being “Christmas”. “Come on Christmas, you got this!” Lol. Made me laugh.
After I got done running this leg, it was my turn to drive. I finished driving the rest of the way to the next exchange. We didn’t get to the next exchange until 7:00 a.m. and we were finally able to get some sleep. Well, I got about 1.5 hours of sleep…on a baseball diamond. We couldn’t sleep on the grass because it was wet from sprinklers.
I was super nervous about my last leg. It was my shortest run, but it was my hardest. It was Noon when I started running, so it was REALLY hot. It was a total of 3 miles, but the first 1.75 miles, I gained 750 feet in elevation. It was HELL. I wanted to run it really bad, but I just didn’t have it in me. Sadly, I ended up walking a lot of my last leg. My average pace was around 13:00/mile. I was just tired, plus it was my hardest leg. Plus, every time I’d try & run, I’d get my side ache.
I finally got done with my last run and hopped in the van. Sadly, the next runner couldn’t run his leg. During his second leg of running 0.5 miles in to his run, he twisted his ankle really bad. Plus, we were running late, so we just had to skip that leg.
It was fun getting out and supporting our runners with water and the water gun. One nice thing about the Epic Relay is it’s a smaller race (team wise) and so there is more camaraderie between all the different teams. I had teams stop and spray me down with water and cheer me on, etc. You don’t get that quite as much during the Ragnar.
I’ve decided one thing I like about being in van # 2 is when you get to the finish line, you’re done, where when you’re in van # 1, when you get to the finish line, you have to wait around for van # 2 to get there.
One thing that was a bummer was when we got to the finish chute and we ran in to it, there were multiple teams running through at the same time, so we ended up walking across the finish line.
The after party is awesome though. First off, beautiful scenery. Second off, free beer…local beer!! Third…ice cream sandwiches!! Yes!
We didn’t hang around the finish line too long. We stayed for a beer or two and then headed to the hotel so we could shower, then off to dinner. We ate at Snake River Brewery. I had some local beer and it was delicious!
After dinner, a couple of folks wanted to go to the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon, but thankfully we were able to talk them out of it. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and go to bed. I was TIRED.
Finally got some sleep and then we headed home in the morning (5 hour drive). The only negative thing about this race is you’re literally in the car for 3 days straight. When you do the Ragnar Wasatch Back, you’re literally 1 hour away from home at any given point. With the Epic, you’re not. But, it’s still worth it.
I didn’t train very well for this race, I’ll admit. I’ve been in a funk since Boise 70.3. But, I would love to do this race again and do these same legs and be more trained for it & see how different my time is. I would actually LOVE to do an ultra team, but I’m having difficulty finding anybody to do it with me.
Have you ever done a relay (Ragnar, Epic, etc)? Have you ever done an Ultra relay?