The chance to be a part of history!
"Disclaimer: I received an entry to the United Relay as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
From the moment I heard about the United Relay, I knew I wanted to participate. It's the first coast to coast relay across the US with 3 routes running simultaneously. Initially, I had a potential work conflict on the date that the relay would be coming through my town, and I was really disappointed. When I looked up the route and individual leg maps I saw that my friend Chris Walsh was signed up to run one of the legs. I really wanted to join him and be a part of the fun!
The relay is divided into 3 routes (Red, White and Blue naturally), that dissect the country starting on the West Coast and meeting up in New York City. The whole idea started as a way to get people involved and raise money for some worthy causes (16 of them). It is presented by Aftershokz, the same company who makes the killer wireless headphones. Read my recent review of their product here.
There had been minimal marketing to the running community, as far as I could tell. They had trouble getting the word out, and as a result, had an incredible number of stages open to run. Gradually, with the help of Bibrave Pros and SweatPink Ambassadors, I started seeing more publicity for the event and people were getting excited.
I saw photos of a friend in California (Tam) start off on one of the first legs of the race. I thought it was SO cool that someone I knew in another state was getting it started.
Both the Blue and White routes cut through Arizona. White cuts through Northern AZ and Blue comes through the metropolitan Phoenix area and on into New Mexico. I had a few friends drive upnorth and run legs on the White route, one of them ran 20 miles AT NIGHT on Route 66! Another ran the blue route the day before me in the heat of the day for like 15 miles!
Once I knew for sure that I could make it, I was pumped. I luckily got a leg which was a loop, so it started and ended in the same spot. On relay day, I made plans to meet Chris at the designated handoff spot.
My stage was on the blue route, on May 11th. It was a very hot day and our stage didn’t start until after 6pm. The support crew met us and we waited for the runners to come in with the baton. The crew was from England and had never been to Arizona before. They were totally enthralled with the scenery. Finally the previous runners showed up and we were able to make the handoff!
Chris and I were off. The route was so much nicer than I expected. Our start was in Papago Park. We only had one boring stretch on the side of the road, the rest was on the canal or on sidewalks through the park. I have lived here for 18 years and I saw some areas of the park I had never seen before. The water flowing through was so peaceful and calming. I stopped several times to take pictures. We were treated to a magnificent sunset. Our leg was 5.1 miles total.
I also happened to know 2 of the 3 girls we were handing off to, so I was excited for that as well. One of them is a BibravePro, and the other girl I know from a local running group. They had a much longer stage to run, and at night. Their leg was around 9 miles through the city of Tempe. At least it was going to be cooler for them. The support crew did not come back for their handoff, so they were feeling a little uneasy about their safety.
Afterwards, I felt like I was riding a high from what I had just been a part of. I wanted to shout from the rooftop about what a cool thing the relay is, and I wished that I had been able to arrange to do more stages. Everything is so spread out, it would have been a lot to plan, and with my husband’s crazy work schedule, I’m not sure how I would have coordinated it all. It was fun to sit back and watch some of my fellow BibRave Pros across the country run their stages. I saw Erica, Angie and Heather run on the blue route and red route. My overachieving friend Angie ran 5 stages for a total of 48 miles! Now THAT is dedication!
The relay continues on, they are scheduled to wrap up in New York on June 4, after 6 weeks of continuous running or cycling (they cycle between stages when they have no runner signed up).
Take a look at the map, if you are in the Eastern part of the country, see if there is still an open stage near you and sign up!! I can’t recommend it enough, I would love to do be a part of it again!
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Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!