Years ago, I did a marathon relay with some friends (and blogged about it here). Well, over the weekend, I upped the ante by completing the Land and Sky Relay, a 65-mile relay from Asheville to Cherokee, NC.
Each runner ran three legs with a total distance ranging from 13 to 18 miles. It took my team of four just under 10 hours to cross the finish line (9:53:54 to be exact). It was a long day that started very cold, very dark, and very foggy. Fortunately, the sun eventually broke through to make for a gorgeous fall day in western Carolina!
When I wrote about my marathon relay experience, I reflected on two main themes:
- Resisting cutting corners when things get tough
- Accountability of a team, even when you’re on your own out there
With this experience, I want to reflect on teamwork and collaboration.
When the relay crossed my radar, I was intrigued. My running club has tried to put teams together for similar events in the past but just couldn’t get folks to commit early enough or offer to help out enough to make it happen.
This time, I was able to get not just my team together, but another team as well. I was thrilled. But more people = more to organize.
As the co-founder and co-organizer of my run club, a lot of responsibility falls to me when it comes to coordinating logistics. It’s not a complaint, per se–I enjoy it and I’m good at it–but it can get overwhelming sometimes. Our group is big and there’s no way to please everyone. It’s hard not to take complaints personally or hear suggestions as complaints.
Sometimes, after big events that require a lot of planning, I tell myself that I’ll never do another one.
But this time was different. Everyone chipped in to make sure this race was a success. For example, I was out of the country when registration opened, so a teammate handled it. And as we got closer to race day, I checked in with Team 2 about their transportation and they already had it covered!
That’s right: eight Bull City Beer Runners were willing to mark their calendars, pay for and complete the grueling registration process, agree on and put down deposits for lodging, figure out transportation logistics, pack sustenance, and clothe themselves appropriately for the weekend. This was nothing short of a miracle.
You’ve probably heard the quote, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (Which may or may not be an African proverb.) Well, it was certainly true for getting four people across three mountainous counties on foot in 10 hours. But even more than that, sharing responsibility was critical for us to have a good time, keep the peace among the group, and, perhaps most importantly, make sure I don’t swear off group events any time soon.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a plug for the tools we used to make this easier. Let me know if you want tips for organizing this kind of thing!
- Meetup – for posting the event and gauging initial interest (my run club organizes through Meetup)
- Google Sheets – for gathering runner info, tracking deposits, and sharing info about the race like the distance and elevation breakdown of each leg
- Venmo – for reimbursements
- Airbnb – for lodging
- Strava – for tracking our miles
- Instagram – for sharing our experience (and trash-talking other teams)