Interstellar Adventures

September 2, 2005

Wild West Relay Volume III: Full Moon Running

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:43 am

We drove north out of Walden, along CO125. As we drove, we noted our exchange points for later. We were driving the opposite way we would be running that night. The rolling hills didn’t seem so bad, in the car that is. The sun was dipping below the mountains as we crossed into Wyoming, where the road became WY230. We could have had a bit more of a nap in the hotel, but we since we had no contact with our other van, we weren’t sure exactly where they were. We had our time estimates, but that’s all they were…estimates. We surely didn’t want to be late!

We arrived at the 19th Exchange and it was dark! It looked like a huge party. There were runners in flashing, blinking lights, people wrapped in blankets, people sleeping in vans, and people coming in and out of the restaurant/bar/lounge where there was food, warmth and flushing toilets.

We figured we had at least an hour before our runner was set to make his exchange, so we sat in the van, chatted nervously, and tried to nap as best we could. I downloaded pictures from my camera onto my laptop and packaged them for uploading. I had no internet connection, but it was something to do to pass the time.

Periodically I would hop out of the van, locate one of my teammates by their flashy-blinky-light and chat till I was too chilly. Then I’d jump back in the van to warm up. One of our mandatory gear requirements was a flashing safety light. Keith is a bit of a rebel, and so he was looking for something to distinguish the Wranglers from all the other runners. He found it here. He ordered 25 of these, and so we had two each. One for the front, and one for the back. And, believe it or not, we could see these coming for quite some distance! And everyone at the Exchanges loved them! ‘Hey, it’s the flashy blinky guys!’. Quite the conversation starter.

Our Van 1 compadres finally showed up. We had about twenty minutes before Vickie would be coming ’round the mountain. Bill started to warm up, and we waited nervously at the exchange. This was going to be Bill’s hardest leg. We saw Vickie’s flashy-blinky come around the bend and Bill lined up at the exchange. She passed off the ‘baton’ to him, and he was gone! 8.8 miles and 1655 feet of elevation gain. We had driven down this to get to the exchange. 7% grade the entire way. Thus, Bill became known as ‘Mr. 7%’ or ‘7% Bill’. I have the uptmost respect for this guy, and he actually ENJOYED the run!

Brad was up next and began our initial descent for 4.3 miles out of the mountains of Wyoming. On the way in we joked that even if he got tired, he wouldn’t be able to stop at the WyColo Lounge (dive bar on the side of the road as we drove). They’d be closed by the time he got there. By now, we were approaching the ‘middle of the night’. We were leaving the exchange, going about half-way past our runners, pulling to the side of the road, waiting for them to pass and checking their fluid levels and general well-being, then moving on to the next exchange, and sneaking in a cat-nap.

Brad handed off to Keith. He continued the decent over 7.1 miles, and took us from Wyoming, back into Colorado. It was cool to drive past all the runners at night. They all had different types of lights and reflectors. There was even one group that wrapped orange reflective tape all around their body and looked like the people from Tron.

Judy bundled up like an Eskimo and waited for her turn to run. Even in the middle of the night at each Exchange, there was still excitement. Runners would approach, and the volunteer spotters would yell down or walkie-talkie down the team number. Then, the next runner for that team would hurry over to the exchange area to accept the hand-off. Except for Team 33. The guy comes blazing in, and everyone is yelling ‘Team 33!’ over and over. Once he catches his breath, he starts yelling for his teammate. When it was obvious no one was hearing, he ran up the hill and found his entire van ASLEEP! Ooops. Some poor girl got yanked out of her slumber and had to jump up and run. Can’t imagine that felt good at all. To her credit, he was 7 minutes faster on his leg than he was supposed to be. Maybe they had an alarm set or something.

Keith came in and handed off to Judy for her 4.1 mile run. He was running fast too, and came in coughing and sputtering as most of us were. These were the highest altitude legs, and we were having so much fun with the lack of oxygen. Once he was able to breathe again, we jumped into the van and headed for the ‘mini-mart but not a mini-mart’ exchange. There used to be a mini-mart there evidently, but someone bought it and shut it down, but decided not to take down the sign. Makes sense right?

Anyway, I fell asleep again at this exchange, and I missed Judy coming in and crying. Evidently, she got a little warm while she was running and took off her gloves to cool her hands. Judy is just a little thing, and has small hands. The ‘baton’ bracelet fell off her wrist, and she didn’t know it until she was looking for it to hand off to Chris for her 6.6 miles. No worries I told her. I had heard other people lost the bracelets or had broken them. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. We lumbered back into the van and headed for my exchange.

I had been looking forward to this for the entire trip. When I was checking out legs, I of course wanted the easiest position possible. And then, when we figured out which ones were going to be at night, I was pleasantly surprised to find out my leg 24 was one of the ‘dark legs’. Woo Hoo!

As Judy ran in, it was approaching 3:40 in the morning. I took off for my 6.2 miles of rolling terrain down the straight blacktop. The moon was completely full, and brilliantly lit up the mountain skies. I looked around at the majesty of the scenery around me. There were hills on my left, mountains on my right, the moon up above, and stars all around. I could clearly make out a few consellations that I know. Soon after I started, one runner passed me. And, excepting the few vans that passed by and then disappeared over the hills, I saw no one and heard nothing except for my own breathing and dogs barking far off in the distance. The air was cold and crisp. My nose was running again of course, combination of cold, exercise and nasal spray, but I was able to gulp down deep breaths without much problem. For a few brief moments, I felt isolated, like the only person in the world. Tiny among the enormousness of the landcape around me. Both humbling and thrilling at the same time, it was just me and the road. I was there under my own power and I had to get myself where I was going. My legs felt good, and I was running steady. My hands did start to get cold, and before the end of it, they were pretty numb. I saw the ‘1 mile to go’ victory sign as I approached the outskirts of the town.

There were signs to direct me on the turns to the exchange point, as they were off the main road. I could hear the exchange before I could see it. So, I picked up my pace and ran in the last few hundred yards at as much of a sprint as I could muster, handed off the baton to Paul, and stopped my watch. 1:23:15. 5:03 am. Just shy of my 1:22 goal. Not fast, I know, but under the conditions and for me…well, I was proud! I was breathing hard and needed to restore feeling to my legs, so I declined the ride to the hotel and walked instead. It was just around the corner really.

I got to the hotel, pulled off my gloves, and my hands were red and swollen and cold. I pulled together my shower stuff and turned on the hot water. As feeling started to return to my hands, they went all itchy. In the shower, I could feel the warm water on my back, but for some reason it was cool on my legs. Ah, yes, my derriere was frozen too! I kid you not.

I brushed my teeth and my hair, and laid down on the bed for a brief nap before it was time to depart for our final set of legs.

Up Next: Wild West Relay Volume IV: Gettin’ Our Ass over the Pass


  1. had a good laugh over your referral links that you mentioned a few posts back. I wouldnt mind a new 5th wheel either!
    Congrats on the upcoming run Oct 23, good luck!!!

    This night run, however, sounds SO cool!!!
    good luck over the pass!

    Comment by Laura — September 2, 2005 @ 3:46 pm |Reply

  2. I would guess the bad part about running at night is you can’t see the scenery 😦

    Comment by FTS — September 3, 2005 @ 4:43 am |Reply

  3. cool entery. i actually feel like i am in this race with you. just vicariously, of course, cause girl, as cool as it sounds, i could NOT do it. you go! very, very proud of you!

    Comment by mysrey — September 3, 2005 @ 6:55 am |Reply

  4. I never thought about it being cold outside, but I suppose it would be. I love the pictures, especially just seeing a few stripes of reflection running.

    Comment by Indigo — September 3, 2005 @ 8:09 am |Reply

  5. I think I would be so scared running at night. You are a crazy woman!!

    Comment by MommaK — September 6, 2005 @ 5:27 am |Reply

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