Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cabot Trail Relay Race - Part One

I have had the honour of being part of some pretty amazing experiences in my life and last weekend's Cabot Trail Relay Race definitely ranks high on my list. The combination of incredible scenery, delicious (and I mean dee-licious!) seafood and great friendships should be quite enough for one weekend but I also had the opportunity to meet 8 new people who turned out to be pretty darn fabulous and bear witness to some utterly jaw-dropping running performances.

The Cabot Trail Relay Race, in a nutshell, is a 270+km relay in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. The relay starts at 7am on a Saturday morning and wraps up around 11am the following morning. The route takes runners through some of the most stunning scenery in Canada and through some of the toughest terrain out there. The relay is divided into 17 legs that range between 12 and 20 kilometres in length. Most legs involved plenty of hill work. Several involved mountain climbing as the route meandered through the Cape Breton Highlands.

There is nothing easy about this race.

But there is plenty of fun.

The set up is very intelligent and the race is incredibly well organized. Elaborate speakers systems and timing mats are set up in moments and then disassembled and packed into the race vehicle only to be driven to the end of the next leg and set up again. Essentially, seventeen mini races took place and the timing was precise and unwavering. Runners must maintain a 6 min/km (9 1/2 min/mile) pace - regardless of the terrain. And, if you happened to run a 6:01 min/km pace, the entire finish line was gone by the time you got there. This race waits for no one.

A group of us have done the Simcoe Shores relay twice in the past two years and we formed a team we called the Mojitos. Lime green is the colour of choice and real mojitos, of course, are served. When we signed up for the Cabot Trail Relay Race, our name morphed into Mojitos on the Rocks (get it?). We recruited a few more runners to fill in the gaps and spent most of the dark winter months training and working through the incredible logistics of getting 17 runners from three different locations (Southern Ontario, Halifax Nova Scotia and Portland Maine) organized. Team meetings and Skype calls were frequent and essential.

We planned the race route, assigned and reassigned running legs, mapped out driving schedules, booked flights, hotels and vans and, most importantly, designed a Mojitos on the Rocks logo and team wear. Well, we didn't design that stuff, Doug did. And he did a fabulous job. We might not be the fastest team out there but we were definitely the best dressed!

I love hanging out with these ladies - they make me feel so tall!

We converged on Baddeck, took over the Silver Dart Lodge and began the rapid and intense bonding that can only happen on weekends like this. 

I was a co-captain of the team and one of two drivers. My role in the race was as essential as any of the runners. In fact, that's the joy, and perhaps the curse, of relays. Running, normally a very solitary sport, morphs into something else entirely when other people are counting on you. It's no longer your race or my race, it's our race. And we all need to push and compromise and work together to succeed. 

Join me tomorrow for a recap of the race itself...

1 comment:

  1. This is pretty awesome!
    I can't wait to see more pictures