One of the premier one-day Pacific Northwest Running relays is the popular Haney to Harrison Relay. It is an enjoyable point A to B eight-person run covering 100 kilometers (62 miles) through the scenic Frasier Valley from Vancouver, BC (Canada), eastbound to Harrison Hot Springs.
The beauty of this relay is that each of the eight people on a team runs 8-15 KM apiece, and can imbibe Molsons while the others run their stages. Once the race is completed, the centuries-old Harrison Hot Springs beckon. Finally, the awards ceremony/dance/party is a big draw, with the resident Canadians invariably retraining their neighbors down South how to drink.
Well, I had known there was also an ultra event, directed in its fourth year, by friend and fellow Dead Runner Society member Ron Adams, who had taunted me for years to do "the full monty" (ed. Note: See Todd's previous article on Bare Buns run). Last year, at the apres run party, relay member Gary (FC) Wright said to me, "Hey, next year, let's do this as a solo." Hoping that Gary (a seasoned ultramarathoner and hasher) would not remember this conversation, I said, "Sure, FC, whatever." I had however, promised myself that if he remembered the conversation, I would follow through. You can guess what happened.
This was to be my longest A to B ultramarathon which required each runner to have a second (crew) in a vehicle to provide complete on-course support. My anticipated second bailed without my knowing it, but SoCal friend Paula bailed me out by going along to help. Little did she know what she was going in for!
November 4th dawned with typical Pacific NW weather - cold and rainy. Our 4am start (ahead of the relays at 7am) was graced by 18 ultramarathoners - nearly all of whom were MUCH more experienced than I. As the run progressed, I learned how to run a LONG ultra (by my standards) and Paula learned how to crew effectively.
The story of the entire day is much too long for a blow-by-blow. There was one noteworthy event during the day, though, during which I learned a lot about myself. Gary told me that he usually hit the wall (OK, third or fourth wall!!) between 50-60 miles. The only time when my resolve flagged in the slightest was at the 40 mile handoff. By that time, the relay teams were beginning to pass us, I had been out there many hours, and still had 22 miles to go. But with encouragement from friends on various relay teams and Paula's constant support, I dug in for the strength (stupidity?) to continue and finish the race in fairly decent shape.
Of the 18 starters, 16 completed the run, including one woman - quite a high percentage for an ultra of that nature - and I was ninth overall. There were 235 relay teams which participated, and I am sure that most of the 1600+ team members were happy that they only had to run ONE of the eight stages!
Afterward, both Gary and I agreed that this was a nice experiment not soon to be repeated. Perhaps next year would be a great opportunity for some AREC members to run HTH. But as a relay, of course - because 100K sure is a long way to run!!