Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nightfall: The Orange Line Runs Again

At 6:24pm, a full 30 minutes ahead of schedule, Green Line runner Kathy arrived into vehicle transition area 3 and handed the band off to Rodger. It was the Orange Line's turn to run again! Nightfall was now approaching. Under the race rules teams need to wear reflective vests with blinking lights and a headlamp from 6:00pm to 6:00am. So dutifully, Rodger donned his safety gear. Sunset was a bit later so he managed to run mostly in twilight. He made the best of the light he had finishing nearly a minute ahead of his predicted pace!

Next up was Sue. While there was some light at the start, by the time she ended it was pitch black. Clouds had arrived leaving not a star in sight. The team now discovered something: all runners and vans look identical in the dark! From the van it was nearly impossible to figure out if an approaching runner was ours until he or she was at the van door. For runners, the situation was no better. While Sue was on the road I got ready and went to put on my Garmin. This gizmo is a GPS watch that tells you, among other things, how far along the course you have gone. My Garmin! Where was it!? From my point of view this was a major crises! I run with it all the time. I count on it to tell me how many miles have passed and how many there are to go! Where was it? Despite turning the van upside down I could not find it. Time for Plan B. When Sue came in I would take the one she was wearing (Paul's). While not ideal it would work. In the meantime Cathy (my wife) called to get an update and remarked that I sounded rather distressed. I told her the bad news but that I could use Paul's. I was still depressed.

After I took the Garmin from Sue off I went for my second leg. At this point I discovered that a well equipped team is one that has individual reflective vests and headlamps! Runners sweat! Yes, I know, big news. Putting on the safety gear after somebody else had just used it was just gross! Nothing to do though. The stuff is mandatory. In any case you would be crazy to run without it at night.

Eventually, I made it into the transition area and handed the wrist strap and Garmin off to Paul. There I was greeted with by Sue holding MY Garmin! I had it back! They found it in the van in Rodger's equipment bag where it had fallen in. You have no idea how happy I was to see it. My spirits considerably brightened I went back to trying to get pictures of the team running at night. Alas, this proved nearly impossible absent some easy way to figure out who our runners were which we did not have. After many, many attempts across many, many runners I finally got one of Sally! But, alas, this is it.

When Sally handed off to Amy it was time to head to the next vehicle transition area. At that point the Green Line would start up again and we could get some sleep. We arrived at 11:53pm looking forward to heading off to the hotel that our indomitable Captain Erica had reserved near the next vehicle transition area from where we would start our final legs. Unfortunately, the Green Line was delayed. More unfortunately, the news coming from there was getting worse and worse. Ever more dire warnings that various members were ill and might have to stop running! It was not too early for a very fatigued Orange Line crew to panic.

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