This year the race was held on October 9-10. For the first two years it was held in May, but timing ended up making October a better choice for this year and the years to come. An added bonus of the race taking place in October was definitely the scenery! This 200-mile race goes through the back roads of Northwest Arkansas and passes through five state parks. Additionally, this year we really worked hard to make the race more of a party (The race doubled in size this year). The finish line expo and concert was a great success, but I'll get back to that later :)
This year was also different for us as well in that we now have a baby! *Last year I was fairly early in my pregnancy so I had to battle morning sickness; luckily I only got sick once on those windy roads.* Graham's dad was awesome and watched her for us so that she didn't have to hang out in her car seat for 36 hours. He watched her both days (and through the night) and brought her to us throughout the race since she is still breastfeeding. Graham's mom was out of town for a friend's daughter's wedding, and she was bummed that she wasn't able to be there to help.
**A little bit about our role: The race has 36 "legs" that are run by the teams. On a 12 man team, each person runs 3 of the legs, which vary in length from 3-8 miles. Each leg ends (and the next begins) at an exchange zone. These were set up along the course at churches, state parks, and
Without further ado, here's our race recap.We started out at the second exchange zone and arrived on the course at 8:45am. Two of the teams were already making such good time that we missed them. It was fun for us to be able to man an exchange station and see all of the teams come through, since we stay at the end of the pack for the rest of the race. I took a few pictures once I remembered. If I had taken some about 30 minutes earlier it would have been a lot more crowded. Having so many teams out on the course was a blast! It really made it more fun for the runners and for us. Around 10:30am we closed down the exchange station and headed on to the next one. We had our first meet-up with baby E there! She was so excited to see us, it was beyond adorable :) After time with her and a quick hot meal, we headed onward! It was raining for the first few hours of the race, but after that the rain cleared and it was gorgeous.
Our morning/afternoon were pretty uneventful. We closed exchange stations, picked up "Runners on road" signs, and enjoyed talking to the volunteers that have helped out in the previous years. There are several Volunteer Fire Departments that man exchange stations and it is always fun to talk with them. It's also fun to hear their feedback. They all told us that they were looking forward to helping out again next year!
In the late afternoon there was a car accident along a windy road that involved one of the vehicles from a team in the race. We pulled up about 20 minutes after it happened. We worked with the team that had been delayed to create an alternate plan for their running. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and half the team continued on to run their legs and finish the race. We saw the entire team together at the finish line. After that setback, we were on the road again. By this time, it was getting to be evening.
I remembered to take a few pictures here and there, and we stopped several times to soak up our surroundings. We live so close to all of this, but we would never see it if it were not for this race! Graham and I love the opportunity we have to be out in the back roads of Arkansas for this race.
We had a few runners take wrong turns, but we were always able to get in contact with the teams and straighten things out. Phew!
Two of the exchange stations in the middle of the night (we were getting there around 3 and 5am) had fires going with s'mores and one had hot chocolate. At exchange 17 we were able to get an incredible view of the stars. It was amazing! Graham and I only got about an hour of sleep each this year. Somehow we managed to stay on our feet and relatively alert and coherent.
|Only picture of us from the race|
|Sunrise from October 10|
In the morning we made it to Lake Fort Smith State Park and met up with Evie again (we also met up with them at Hobbs State Park and just before Withrow Springs State Park on Friday). We enjoyed hot Mountain-Man style breakfast burritos (which were sooooo good--Evie agrees) and fresh fruit for breakfast. And just like that we were on our way again! Saturday during the day is normally such a blur because of the lack of sleep. We just did the sort of same things as we closed down exchanges, answered any questions, kept up with all of our teams, and made sure everyone was on pace to finish the race on time. We did have a couple of teams skip forward a little bit, but after that everything was going smoothly and we didn't have any issues really.
|This random skull was on a tree branch at an Exchange Zone|
We made it to the finish line around 5-5:30pm and enjoyed Outback Steakhouse for dinner (they were a sponsor this year and did the food for the finish line! How great was that?!). We loved that we came in about 1.5-2 hours earlier this year than we had in the previous years. The finish line was awesome! There were vendors set up (including someone who was giving massages!), Outback was grilling, there were lots of friends/family of the runners there to meet them at the finish line, and it was really a party!
Despite my plan to take more pictures this year...I simply did not do so. Sorry! Maybe next year? I did remember to take a few, but I forgot my camera so they were taken on my phone. They really don't do the scenery justice.
|Sunset on our way home|
We headed home around 7pm, had Evie in bed by 8pm, and we crashed at 8:30pm. And then slept for 12 hours. :) I feel like it took me a good three or four days to fully recover and catch up on sleep. Once again, however, we loved our time helping with the race and can't wait until next year when we get to do it all again! If you know anyone that runs (or if you do yourself) you should start preparing to be a part of this awesome race. It's difficult, but worth it.
From Marissa, with love.
Also! My scripture for this week is from the Book of Mormon. (No idea what I'm talking about? Check out this post) 1 Nephi 1:20 "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I'm focusing on the second half of the scripture, which is what I've posted.