Posted by: wasatchprotocol | June 16, 2010

2010 Sawtooth Relay

What’s more fun than waking up at 2:30 AM after 1 hour of sleep and starting a 61.9 mile relay race in the dark with 30 degree temperatures with 5 other friends?  I dunno.  It was a rhetorical question.  But that’s what we did, and it was an absolute blast.

Warning:  This is a long trip report.

Some of our friends ran the Sawtooth Relay last year (a 61.9 mile, 6 person relay race through the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho), the result being an increased level of interest in our group of friends.  So there were two teams this year.  The Pack O’ Whallops, which were arguably the “A team” going for first place in the Corporate Division, included our friends Todd, DA, Paul H, Paul V, Shawna, and Betsy.  Our team, FCC (Front Climbing Club) Runners included Josalyn, Danny, Pam, Adam, Steph, and myself.  We weren’t gunning for a top finish, but rather were content with putting up decent times while having fun.

Most of the photos were taken by Steph.  A few photos were taken by other members of our team using Steph’s camera.  More of her photos here.

Friday, 10 PM.  Paul V and Shawna (other team) and Steph and I, arrive at the cabin we were staying at after a 6 hour drive.

Our car partners

We pulled off in “Wooly mammoth territory” as Paul called it.  He had a find.

Cool beans... Look what Paul found...

Shawna was not impressed.

Driving during the sunset

We had rainbows.

not bad

The rest of the Pack O’ Whallops were already there.  The rest of our team wouldn’t arrive until after midnight.  Our team’s start time was 3:45 AM.  So needless to say, we got very little sleep, got up at 2:30, got our gear together, and packed into Danny and Josalyn’s Forester for the 30 mile ride to the start (cabin was right about halfway along the racecourse).  On the drive up there, we saw the “very slow” teams that had started as early as midnight walking along the side of the road, bundled up, with their reflective vests and headlamps.  They looked miserable…

We were a little late, so we ended up missing the 3:45 start, but Adam, our first runner, was ready to go for the 4 AM start.  The rest of us grabbed some the complimentary watered down coffee to wake up and warm up.  It was a frigid 30 degrees out.

4 AM.  Adam lined up with the other 4 AM starters and got into a sprinter’s position.  Dude next to him: “Hey, you know this isn’t a 5k right?”  Adam:  “What?”  And they’re off.

Adam, on the right in the sprinter's starting position, at the 4 AM start.

Adam getting close to the finish of Leg 1.

After about 6 miles, Adam handed the baton, a glowing snap bracelet, off to Danny for Leg 2.  It was still dark and cold.

Cold and tired, Danny is still excited. Adrenalin at work.

Towards the end of Danny’s leg, you could start to make out the surroundings.  The Sawtooths are incredible.  I was drooling over the skiing possibilities.

Danny just about to hand off the bracelet to Pam.

Danny then handed off to Pam who did her 4.something Leg 3.  Pam came up big.  We had a runner that injured herself 5 days before the race and we were scrambling to get a sub in.  Pam stepped up.

Pam during Leg 3.

Meanwhile, Adam was trying to stay loose.

Adam staying loose with a Sasquatchish Irish jig kind of thing.

and I was content to wait a bit more.

Chilling in the car.

Steph then got “warmed up” for her Leg 4…

A cold Steph.

But soon Pam made the hand off to her and she was off.  It’s now maybe 32 degrees or so.

Steph during Leg 4.

While waiting for Steph halfway through her leg, we had a team moment.  L to R: Me, Pam, Adam, and Danny.

FCCers hanging out.

And after some high fives, Steph is off to finish her first leg.

At the next exchange, I warmed up and stretched out.  Apparently I stretched more then anyone else.  It was still freezing, but the sun had just come over the mountains.

Getting stretched out for Leg 5

Steph and I had a nice moment during our exchange, which Josalyn managed to capture…

Awww, how cute.

Let's get it on.

Leg 5 was about 5.83 miles with a mild but constant incline.  It was cold at first and my hands were completely numb, but by the end I was drenched.  It was pretty tiring.  But not as tiring as Josalyn’s Leg 6.

Some photo dorking

I got through my leg with about an 8 minute mile pace.  Not too bad for not training too hard.

Josalyn then started Leg 6, the summit run.  5.35 miles with a 1300 foot elevation gain up too the summit pass at 8701 feet.  Pretty rough.

Josalyn killing it on the uphill.

Only another couple miles to go to the summit.

Up at the summit, one of the solo runners came through.

And I stretched some more to keep from tightening up. It was not my intention to match my rain jacket with my warmup pants. It just worked out that way.

Adam joined me in the stretchathon, since his second leg was about to start.  Leg 7 is pretty much the opposite of Leg 6 – so 6 miles long with a 1400 foot elevation loss.  That’ll work the quads.

Adam gears up.

And then Josalyn came around the bend after her monstrous climb.

Josalyn approaching the exchange at the summit.

And off went Adam for his downhill leg.

Adam gets going on Leg 7

Now, some of you may think that this is an easy leg since it’s all downhill.  You would be wrong.  It takes a lot of energy and muscle power to absorb the impact that running downhill creates.  Adam started out like a champ and was cruising at first.  See the example below:

Looking good at this point

Downhill running will wear you out fast.  Next time we saw him, at 3.8 miles in, he was moving a little slower.  Nothing wrong with that though.  Chances are that none of us would have done any better.  This leg is considered the second hardest, after the climb.

Danny was killing some time while we waited for Adam

2 more miles and Adam finishes it out strong

And next is Danny’s second leg.  He destroyed it.  7 minute miles or something like that.  With hardly any training.  Freak of nature.  He looks so happy here.


Despite his good natured smile, he wanted to beat the girl ahead of him at the finish.  So he sprinted the last few yards and pushed her out of the way!  YEAH!!

Danny for the win!

Pam then set off for her second leg.  She then took a bit of a tumble and twisted or sprained her ankle.  But she kept running.

Pam getting it done

Steph waiting for the hand off from Pam.

Steph then set out on her second leg, which was tougher than we had originally thought.  6.13 miles long with a few rolling hills.  She fought through it and then sprinted past these two girls right before the exchange.

Just before Steph puts on the turbo boost.

Steph handed the baton to me and took a break.

My last leg was just about 5 miles and pretty flat.  Not too bad, except my IT band started acting up again.  My IT band had severely impacted my SLC Half Marathon training a few months ago, and after the Half I couldn’t run without pain for almost 2 weeks.  Luckily, it never got too bad during this leg, but I had to decrease my stride length to keep it from painfully tightening up.

Somewhere within Leg 11, just after passing the girl running in a sports bra and long skirt...?

Meanwhile, at the last exchange the others were goofing off.

What are they doing?

Josalyn, minutes before I hand the baton off to her for the final leg.

Adam being Adam.

And my leg was over.  Josalyn was off for the last leg.  2.63 miles to the finish line

Yay! Adam was cheering me on right before the exchange.

Josalyn takes off to finish off the race.

We finished the 61.9 miles in 8 hours 55 minutes and 30 seconds.  That’s a little under a 9 minute mile average.  Not super fast, but really good considering the course, little training, and no sleep.  I didn’t run the main climb or descent, but I was very happy with my ~8 minute mile average.  And it was blast.  But it wasn’t over.  There was a bbq-picnic kind of thing afterwards, and then a keg at the cabin.

We grabbed some food and some pretty good local Idaho beer.  Then Adam became a pirate.

Pirate Adam. Arrrrrrr!

Since we started so early, we finished early.  Especially since we passed almost all the teams that started with us or several time slots ahead of us.  We thought we’d wait for the other team to finish.

We ate more.  Had some more good beer.  And lemonade.  Some of us dozed off.  Then there was some half-assed attempts at throwing a frisbee.  Then we ate some more.  Dozed off again.  A little more beer.  Half a sausage…  And then the Pack O’ Whallops hit the finish line, in style.  With neck tattoos…  They finished in 7 hours and 48 minutes, not winning the entire field (too many high school and college xc running teams present for that), but they crushed the Corporate division.  We still don’t know what our place in the division was.

The Pack O' Whallops.

So we hung out some more.

Confucius say...

Josalyn with lemon wedges in her amber ale.

Paul like his sauerkraut. Lots of it.

His better half is more reserved in the eating category.

And back at the cabin, there was more food, intermittent sleeping, and keg stands.

Betsy of Pack O' Whallops fame, with help from DA and Todd.

Josalyn, the responsible mom, wanted to do one, but wanted hold herself up without help. She's a personal trainer.

But she'll have to train more to hold herself up by herself. She sort of fell down.

Shenanigans continued, but since everyone was so beat, people started pealing off and falling asleep rather early.  Then we got up the next morning, ate breakfast, and embarked on the trip back to Salt Lake City.  Keeping the cruise control at just under 84 mph we made it home in the middle of the afternoon to pick up our dogs.  All in all, a great trip, a great race, and great people.  If you can scrounge up 6 half-assed runners or better I highly recommend signing up.


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