Well, I was trying to add the image of the elevation profile for this race but blogger isn't cooperating. (I'll refuse to accept that it's user error until the end of time.) Maybe I'll try to add it later. Perhaps this exerpt from the 'runner briefing' will be just as enlightening:
1. WELCOME TO THE 26th ANNUAL SUNFLOWER RELAY AND IRON EVENT.
2. THIS RACE IS RUN OVER VARIED TERRAIN, TRAILS, UNPAVED ROADS, BRIDGES, ACROSS SMALL STREAMS, FIELDS AND GRAZING LAND. THERE WILL BE FENCES TO CROSS AND A BIT OF WET TERRAIN. YOU MIGHT SEE SNOW AND MAY HAVE TO RUN THROUGH SMALL PATCHES. PAY ATTENTION TO FOOTING.
3. YOU WILL ENCOUNTER GRAZING ANIMALS AND OTHER WILDLIFE--JUST KEEP MOVING.
4. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF TICKS AS YOU WILL BE RUNNING THROUGH WOODS - CHECK YOURSELF AND SHOWER LATER TODAY.
10. THIS YEAR THERE ARE FOUR PORT-A-POTTYS AT THE START (PLEASE USED THEM - THEY ARE TRYING TO RUN A BUSINESS THERE!) THE BEGINNING OF LEG 3, LEG 5 AND THE FINISH ALSO HAVE PORT-A-POTTYS.
14. THE AWARDS ARE AT THE TWISP RIVER PUB (ON HWY 20) FOLLOWING THE RACE. THERE IS A BAKED POTATO BAR (free to participants, $5.95 for non-participants) AND A NO-HOST (everybody pays) BAR AT THE TWISP RIVER PUB STARTING AT 11:30 a.m. AWARDS ARE SCHEDULED FOR 12:30 p.m. ON THE DECK OF THE PUB.
16. PLEASE, DON'T START THE RACE ANY OTHER PLACE THAN THE START LINE.
You gotta love trail running. I was intimidated by this course before. After reading so many ultra trail race reports recently, I fell like a measly 5 mile leg is sorta wimpy. Maybe next year I'll attempt to do the iron event - run it solo. But each person in a relay has an importance, so I shouldn't discount my leg.
This relay has a huge significance in life for me - much more than my typical training and racing. It was initially going to be a fairly competitive relay with very driven, goal-oriented individuals. But sometimes life happens. My sister-in-law is in her late 30's - pretty young in life. She likes to kayak, road bike, orienteer, and run. She's been a runner since high-school. Her marathon PR is 3:27. A few years ago she was diagnosed with MS - sort of out of the blue. Periodically she'll go through episodes of vision problems, numb feet, etc, but has continued to run through it all. She ran a competitive half-marathon about a year ago. She was marathon training through this winter but developed another episode that is preventing her from running. The scary thing is, it might be forever. MS is such a vague illness that you never know what the next day might bring. She's had to live her life a little bit differently and find a way to cope with the idea that everything she loves and values can be over in a blink of the eye. She doesn't talk about it a lot - just tries to be tough and overcome each episode as it comes - and hope that each episode isn't going to be permanent. There's no way for her to know when she goes out for a run if that one might be her last one.
She was going to run a leg of the relay, and one of us was going to double up and run 2 legs. Instead, her children are going to run those two legs. Her youngest said, "If mom can't run, then I'm going to run in her place." This little one is 10 years old. A little toughie. We talked to the race director about one of us running the legs simultaneously with the kids if needed, and they okayed it, but I think the munchkins might be up for running solo for their legs. (The team requirement for this relay is actually that one runner must be over 40, and one runner must be under 14. And there is actually one leg that is considered easiest and recommended for the youngest runner.)
Pretty emotional event for me. I've been running since I was a little kid and it is now just a natural thing for me. I've never run for a cause or to support any foundation. I helped my mom train for the avon 3-day walk. We've had cancer in my family. I feel sorta selfish in saying that I've just always run for my own goals and for my own sanity. This one feels a little different for me - hits so much closer to home. I think I see a whole different perspective when I see these kids out there running for their mom. It's such a grown up mentality for them to understand and accept the medical reality of the situation. And yet, they don't cry and pout and complain. They fight. Just like their mom.