So with every new relay there are fun stories to tell and pictures to share. The Grand Teton Relay was started in 2010 and even though I knew about it back then, I never wanted to make the effort to put a team together myself. So until this year when someone needed a last minute replacement for their team, I never got the chance to run it. Cody (pictured with me above) was also a replacement runner for the team so we got to spend his 23rd birthday in a van full of strangers running from Ashton, ID to Jackson, WY.
You start this race at North Fremont high school in Ashton. This is our first runner Matt, on the right int he green. But can I just make a comment about super yellow spandex guy in the right. He was a really strong runner. I know this because we basically leap frogged their van the whole race. But it's a good thing he was such a strong runner because it takes some serious guts to wear yellow spandex like that in public. Just sayin'....
The start line was great. Basically a wall of sound to run through. And they kept playing "Paradise City" over and over again to get everyone pumped up. Not sure why the organizers chose that for their theme song, but it worked.
Actually the first 30 or so miles of this race follow the Mesa Falls Marathon course in reverse, so I've run a lot of this going the other direction. Rolling farm land up into Grand Targee National Forest.
That's Doug waiting on Matt at the first exchange. I was really happy with our team. I mean, considering I didn't know anyone except for Cody and Diana (the girl who organized the team. She ran the Wasatch Back with us in June.)
Cody and I posed for pictures to kill some time waiting for our turns to run.
And here's Cody handing off to Diana after 7.7 miles.
These got out of order because now we're waiting on Cody to start again. Oh well. You can tell from these that Cody was really the one who started out in the farm land and took us up into the hills of the forest.
Found a fun place to feed the fish while waiting to give Cody some water.
And got to check out Upper Mesa Falls while Diana was running
After our first legs were over, we were really blessed because one of our team members owns a cabin that was literally 1.5 miles from our next exchange. So we got to go back and watch movies, cook a real meal, shower, rest and enjoy the sunset over the Tetons before running again. I wish we had an option like this every relay.
As usual I managed to skip taking pictures overnight. (Something about running in the dark and being sleep deprived will do that to you.) But we did have a little bit of excitement. A blown tire on our van at 1:30am right before I took off on a super dark 4 miles down an ungroomed forest service track. It was a little creepy because this is such a small race (only 88 teams) so I literally ran completely alone with no one else in sight for most of that time. But it's okay because the threat of bear attack kept me moving pretty quickly. Our other van also got very lost on their way to the next exchange so we ended up waiting for about 30-40 minutes before they finally showed up and we could go to Teton H.S. and get some rest.
This race does have a pretty cool finish line at Teton Village in Jackson Hole. We were able to get some good food (and of course free ice cream) at the finish while we waited on our other van to arrive.
I somehow didn't mange to get a picture of the whole group together at the end, but that's because we were all in a big hurry to collect our medals and get home. Something about running on no sleep and only junk food for 30 hours will do that to you.