Blaine, Nick and I met at "uncivilised o' clock" and drove the mobile business card (our sponsored car - see previous blog for photo) to Longview for the start of the K100. Blues skies meant a glorious day ahead.
Leg 1 - Aaron Swanson - 18.6k - 1.08:42 - 4th fastest
Aaron had his work cut out on the first leg. He was up against some decent runners; in particular a guy who had just run a 66 half marathon. The first three went off fast and Aaron stayed with them for about a mile before adopting the far more sensible approach of running his own pace. It paid off. He came in 4th but, most importantly, only about 30 seconds behind the Running Room. I had wanted him to run 70 minutes and he ran 68. Already we were ahead of budget (as I may have said more than once during the day).
A very smooth looking Nick Haddow cruised to the third fastest time of his leg. This leg was all about consolidating the good work we'd already done. The Running Room had a speed demon on their leg 2 and so Nick had to watch him slowly get away from him which could easily have destroyed Nick's confidence. But not a bit of it. Nick hung in there and looked smooth throughout. The real work was done in chasing down the leaders and the second placed team. And Nick really closed the gaps. The top 4 were now only a few minutes apart.
Blaine was another unsung hero of the race. Running one of the most scenic legs, he barely looked up at the passing streams and mountains and with grim determination pushed his way through a number of the teams who had started at 6am, to finish 3rd overall on his leg. He told me afterwards that the team mentality of the relay really left him no option but to run well. "Letting yourself down is acceptable. Letting 9 other people down is not." Or words to that effect.
One of the stresses of organising this sort of thing is when your runner, who has been waiting to run for about an hour, suddenly decides to disappear the second you get your 5 minute warning. Blaine did it on leg 3 and I had to run about a mile up the road to find him on his warm up. Jeremy decided it would be a good time to start putting his number on. I left him in no doubt how I felt about this when I told him, in no uncertain terms, to "get his sh *t together"!! (Sorry Jeremy!)
Well, I think my words of "encouragement" may have worked because Jeremy certainly did get his sh *t together.
Anyone who has run the K100 will know that leg 5 is the tough one. It's long and you run up Highwood Pass, topping out at over 7,000 feet. I'm told it's the highest part of Canada's highest engineered road. So what better runner to put on this leg than a guy I had never met who was only just coming back from injury?! The gamble, I am happy to say, paid off.
Leg 6 - Jason Wilcox - 9.4k - 36:38 - 6th fastest
Leg 7 - Darcy Bell - 16.5k - 59:00
Darcy had a lonely leg with one mission. Stay in front of the Running Room. Not only did he do this, he put some time on them and came in SIX MINUTES under budget (yes, I was still banging on about the budget!) and opened up the lead to 5 minutes 30 seconds. Excellent work.
Matt went off with the runner for the leading team and we all waited at the end with bated breath. The leading team's runner came in, clearly flying, and we all waited. And waited. 5 minutes went by before Matt came in and we were all concerned about our lead. We needn't have been. Matt stormed the leg and put FOUR MINUTES back into our lead over the Running Room, his efforts only overshadowed by the guy he was running with who ran a stormer. Matt had second fastest time of the day and quite possibly gave us the lead we needed.
We knew it was going to be close. The Running Room had Andrew Carruthers on their last leg. A running machine. We received some good news in that leg 10 was reduced to 12k due to flooding. Mark Fewster, expert on the trails, set off hard and never looked back. At the turnaround point he was minutes up and cruised in to finish 3 minutes clear of the Running Room. He just needs to work on his celebrations which involved sitting in a chair.
Good work everyone. I never knew a 9 hour and 19 minute race could be so exciting! Well done to the Running Room who took it all in good spirits and were great competitors.