We did it: Tuna Run 200!

Be forewarned... this is long. But how else can you recap 36 hours of fun?

Last weekend we ran in the Tuna Run 200, a 203.8 mile relay that started in Garner and headed to Atlantic Beach. Before the relay I was definitely a mix of nervous and excited and didn't really know what exactly to expect... but it was ah.maz.ing. Seriously. The most fun, exhilarating thing I've done in a while. I would do it again in a heart beat. Actually, we are already talking about next year. 

But anyway, more about this year.... Our team was made of 12 people + 1 awesome driver :) We had 2 vans. Van 1 had the first 6 runners and my van, van 2, had the second 6 runners. We were lucky enough to rope Anna's boyfriend, Ricky, in to being our driver. He didn't really know what he was in for until it was too late. 
(Our team was 12 people, some people had less. There were ultra teams of 4-6 runners who kicked our butts! Crazy... there was also 1 solo guy who ran the whole thing + resting a few hours... in about 70 hours!)

We rented two 12 passenger vans for the race. We all met up Friday morning bright and early at Lake Benson Park in Garner. Based on our estimated completion times, our team started at 6:30 am. Some teams started as early as 6 or as late as 11 (speed demons). Here are all of the 6:30 starts taking off!

After cheering Melissa on at the start, we decided to get a hearty breakfast, since we didn't have to run until about 11:30. We hopped on over to Cracker Barrel. We actually saw another relay team with the same idea.... carb loading!

After breakfast we made a stop at Walmart and headed to the first major exchange. At the end of each run there is an exchange and every 6 runs (typically) the vans trade positions. We went to exchange 6, where van 1 would be complete with their first runs and we would pick up the running. We waited for their arrival in a parking lot outside of the Four Oaks Civitan.

We decorated our van while we waited.
Van 2: Ricky (our selfless driver), Will, D, Anna, Me, Trey & Morgan (speedy!)
Trey and I excited for our first runs
Some of the exchanges and van 1's first runs!
They already crossed a couple of county lines!

Karen brought in the last of the first legs for van 1 and handed off to Morgan. Morgan works with my bff Christy. She runs with him and when we needed another runner he signed on. A brave man to jump in the van with us crazies! But not only was he incredibly fast he was awesome and a lot of fun.

When van 2 headed off for our runs van 1 stopped for lunch and a nap, since they knew they had a long day+ ahead. Nothing like napping in front of a church on the grass in the middle of the day.

Morgan handed off to me and I was off for my first run (4.82 miles). This is the second year of the relay and they came up with the idea of tattoos for directions. It was a great idea, I had my turns on my arm, although all the turns were actually really well marked with signs too. It was definitely nice though to know the mileage of each piece of my run and when to expect a turn.
D having some fun in the neighboring sweet potato fields, waiting for her run:
Trey was after me, armed with a camel back full of water:
Here he comes!
You can't see it, but the end of his 5.4 mile leg was a pretty nice uphill battle, he's ready to hand over the sweaty slap bracelet!
A few more exchanges on van 2's first set of legs:

Van 1 took over... and night began to fall...
We decided to go get a good dinner at King's in Kinston (BBQ buffet.. yum!). Most of us had only eaten granola and goldfish since breakfast and just run 5-8 miles. It was a little bit out of the way but totally worth it. We went ahead to the next exchange with van 1 and decided to try to sleep. It was only 7:30 on a Friday but somehow we were already tired and knew we would be running through the night, so now was our chance to cat nap. And that's just what we did... for maybe an hour. On the cement. Under an overhang of Pink Hill elementary. FUNNN.
Poor Ricky trying to catch a few zzzzs
My bestest, Christy, who introduced us to Morgan, was also running the race with a team made up mostly of her co-workers. Who are crazy fast runners. She was also in van 2. Their start time was later than ours since it would take them less time to finish, so they finally caught up to us (and surpassed us) at our "nap" spot. She took off just before our runner did, that's her blurb in the dark (she killed that run at a 7 minute pace for 7.5 miles):
The night run was what I was most worried about. I am not one to be alone, outside at night. Let's face it: I'm afraid of the boogie man. yep. So I was really not looking forward to running 5.61 miles by myself along back country roads at 1:30 am. The vans couldn't completely trail you because that would be a huge traffic mess, however they were allowed to "leap frog" you: go up a half mile or so, stop and wait for you to pass, continue on, repeat. I told Ricky he was going to have to stop for me about every mile and keep an eye on me. I was mistaken, about 2 miles in I said, go on to the next exchange, I'm fine! The night run was BY FAR my favorite. And everyone else in our van's. It was lightly raining during my run, but really worked to cool me down nicely, not too soaking. It also kept most of the animals at bay, no wild dogs on my run! It was gorgeous, a very light sky from a full moon and so serene. There were also so many race vans on the road to support us. The camaraderie was amazing during this race, better than any other race I've ever been a part of.
Really excited after finishing my night run:
Anna, however did get SOAKED during her run. Seriously, soaked!! But she still loved every minute of it.
After we finished our second leg (around 5am), van 2 headed on to the next major exchange point in attempt to get some sleep. It was another church (this was basically a tour of the east coast churches) that so kindly opened it's doors to a lot of tired, sweaty runners. They not only opened their doors but they provided a pancake breakfast.

The inside sleeping room was full by the time we go there, so Trey and I put out our tarp (necessary for wet ground) and tried to sleep a few winks (at 6 am).
When van 1 arrived they were DONE with all of their legs! They also met a few friends along the way!
Exhausted and ready to face his third 8-mile run, Morgan started our last set of legs!
Waiting for Morgan at another friendly church, D hoping for some help on her last run:
Interesting signage along the back roads of eastern NC:
I took over after Morgan, running a couple of miles down 58. As he handed off to me the only thing he said was "this road sucks!!" oh great.... And he was right. It was 11 am and no one cared about our race on this 4 lane highway. My couple miles of miserable highway were followed by the Emerald Isle bridge... ouch! And a couple more miles on the island to end my runs and hand off to Trey.

Those 3rd legs were hard, we were tired and sore but it was so worth it. We made it to the finish line in 32 hours, 46 minutes (a 9:38 pace). The finish line held Oscar Blues beer, tuna and BBQ!
Way to go team Cheap Bait!

I just have to mention that the race director made this race AWESOME. As did all of the volunteers, churches and schools that opened their doors. Without them we would not have had the amazing experience that we did. I was so impressed with the whole set up. I really can't get over how great the whole weekend was. I was just telling Trey that I had much more fun on this relay than the half marathon. On to more relays!!

Channel Marker Tuna:
Van 1 waiting for us at the finish:
This was such a fun experience, I can't wait to do it again. Luckily we were all in pretty good spirits the whole time, even though we were exhausted. It was so exhilarating and fun and the camaraderie was amazing. I'm so proud of our team!

Saturday night our van overloaded Trey's parents house... we soaked our sore muscles in the hot tub and Frank cooked us a nice warm meal... yum! We ate dinner, watched a little football and passed out fast!

Sunday morning, almost home!
A great weekend, but it's always good to be home to a comfy couch & happy dogs:

1 comment

  1. Thanks for the post! We have a team running our first relay this year at the Tuna!