River to River Relay 2015

by Mel
on 21.05.2015

Eight runners, eleven hours and fifteen minutes, eighty miles.  

The River to River Relay, for those not in the know, is a punishingly hilly eighty mile trek across the bluffs of the Land of Lincoln. Eight (or fewer) determined souls hopscotch across the state to bring their team to, if not victory, at least a solid finish in time to hear the church bells in Golconda, get those finisher shirts and the requisite photo on the Ohio River.

Photo above: Our team at the start. L to R, top row: Club Secretary David ‘Sriracha’ Dowd, Club VP Lisa ‘Lightening’ Johnson, Dusk Dash Director Jay ‘Caffiene Enough’ Hunt, Club President Melanie ‘BatMel’ Suess, Club Treasurer Rachael ‘Runderhill’ Underhill, Route 66 10K Training Head Coach Erica ‘Hysterica’ Hunt. L to R, Route 66 10K Sponsorship Chair Matt ‘Mattropolis’ Feldmann, Floppy the Dolphin, and Unofficial Club Photographer Paul  ‘Capt’n Brown Count’ Underhill. We wear all the hats in our club!

The day starts as many race days do: runners groggily drinking coffee, hoping to make that last long distance bathroom call, and with the inflation and mounting of some form of aquatic wildlife onto a rental van.

Our day was going to be a challenging one; a race to beat transition zone shut downs, our own usual running paces, and an impending storm. Jay had the foresight to create an astonishingly detailed spreadsheet spelling out precisely where we needed to be and when for race finish success.

The day started with a pleasant surprise: our team was starting at the same time as Team Godzilla’s men’s team.  This opportuned us with plenty of blustery banter, and we redecorated each other’s vans as the day progressed.


Weather early in the day was made-to-order with overcast skies, and temps cool enough to be chilly when waiting, but perfect for running in shorts and singlet. Somewhat later in the day, this shiny orb made an appearance in the sky, and the day, briefly, got hot.

Up to this point, we are slaying ourselves to make each exchange on time, our frenetic pace being further driven by the exchanges packing up for the day just as we pass them. Then, during the last leg of the day for runner number one, Mel, the skies opened up.

The rest of our team would find themselves running through torrential rains, and our third leg, Rachael, would earn bragging rights for the day by running through hail. The entire time, we are within minutes of success per our spreadsheet, but the most strenuous leg of the day, leg 3 for runner 6, Matt, is just ahead.


We made the following decision for our team: drive to the 5 to 6 exchange, drop Matt off and have him start running his portion. The rest of us would wait for runner 5, Jay, and inform the officials that we were jumping ahead a bit, knowing we would be disqualified for placing (an unlikely occurrence that day, regardless, we just want to finish!). Somewhere in the midst of this, with more than one runner now afield, we learn that the race has been scrubbed.

With heavy hearts, we scoop up Jay, and head towards Matt. With only two runners left to finish, Paul and Erica, we drop them off along the way to finish leg 6 with Matt, to pick them up at the 6 to 7 exchange before driving to Golconda. At the exchange, we learn from local police that all runners must exit the course, and after a three person mock finish with flag and double rainbow, we drive on to the finish line.


From our perspective, we ran through the worst of the storm, and had to quit under lovely skies, which is understandably frustrating. From the race planner's perspective, they made a judgement call based upon the weather information they had at hand, with the safety of their participants in mind. As race planners ourselves (that little jam known as the Route 66 10K), we understand the tough call, respect the decision made, and appreciate the efforts made by the race to ‘make things right’ by sending finishers shirts to all regardless of actual accomplished finish, and by giving priority dibs to teams that were scrubbed next year.

Eight hours in a smelly van with a bunch of soggy, smelly runners?


Yes, please. See you in 2016, Golconda.


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