We we're fortunate enough here at the FootZone to be involved in a couple teams at the Cascade Lakes Relay this past weekend. Melanie and Tonya ran on the "In the Zone" team and I ran with the FootZone/Rebound team. I'm trying to get Melanie or Tonya to post about there experience so hopefully you'll see that soon.
In all fairness, the team I ran with is really Jeff and Katie's team with a bunch of really good people and friends who just so happen to be exceptional runners (a few of us on the team wouldn't include ourselves in that e.r. category, but loved being involved anyway). On the ladies side (and in van #2) was Katie Caba, Jill Gozdowski, Ahna Jura, Laura Fritz, Jen Sventek and Cindy Brennan. Van #1 included Jeff Caba, Andy Martin, Michael Dennis, Ryan Rein (Katie's Brother), James Nelson and myself. Most of the team ran together last year but injury or other commitments added James, Cindy and myself this year.
The boys ran first starting at 11:30am and Friday was hot. We were thankful for some great comic relief along the way. First was a 62 yr old retired nurse who developed a persistant fondness for one of our runners. Second were some exceptional volunteers who immediately upon our arrival at one of the exchanges began fanning James and Andy with huge paddles and followed them around with umbrellas to provide shade. Everybody ran great, but there was some suffering going on between Diamond Lake and Beaver Marsh. The lasting image for me was patting James on the back after his ultra exposed, 7ish mile leg and realized that he was so cooked that he was no longer sweating. I actually had a couple drops of moisture and some shade on my leg 2+ hrs later, and it still might have been the least fun 5.5 miles I've ever run. We weren't sad to hand off to the more than capable ladies van to run the road on into Silver Lake.
The middle of the night legs were wonderful if for no other reason than it was so cool by comparison. Things get a little blurry the farther we went into the night but it was spectacular to watch the guys clicking off such fast legs. We handed off to the gals again around 1:30 in the morning and got to catch up with the ladies a bit before driving off to the next van exchange and hopefully some sleep. The first 7 miles of that drive was the leg Jill just started running and it was uphill and lookeded like it might never end. We found out later that she rocked it (no suprise). We managed a whopping 1:15 of sleep before the call came at 4 am that we'd be moving again.
The unquestionable highlight of our 3rd round in the boys van (other than Andy and Jeff continuely churning out 6 minute miles) was Michael in the costume leg. If anyone thinks they saw an under-clothed, caped figure on the Cascade Lakes Highway in the early hours Saturday, it wasn't a dream. James gutted out a tough uphill leg with a bum hamstring for his third leg and by 8am on Saturday we'd handed off to the women. That left us to follow along and watch them roll back into Bend. That was a treat since we hadn't really seen them much the rest of the run. Jen was amazing climbing the Sparks Lake grade and all the way to Dutchman. Laura hammered down from Dutchman then back up to the gravel pit (ouch) then down to Swampy. Katie Caba, in case you didn't know, is fast, even after no sleep and 2 other runs in the past 15 hours. Cindy looked smooth and strong down to the INN and Ahna smoked a hot leg to the finish.
This was humbling, exhausting and incredibly fun. What really makes the event is the comraderie you can only get after more than 24 hours in a smelly van with your sleep deprived cohorts. It was an honor to run with these guys and gals and kind of them to fly the FZ colors!