In 2013, I participated in an amazing event called One Run for Boston. One Run For Boston made running history by becoming the first ever non-stop relay to run across America from Los Angeles to Boston. Over 2000 runners helped complete the 3300 mile journey and raised over $90,000 for victims of the tragic bombing at the 2012 Boston Marathon. For my leg of the relay, I ran 12 miles at 2 am in the small Oklahoma town of Binger. Six friends and I drove 2 hours from our home in Norman to the hand off area in the middle of a dark highway where the only building in sight was a local bar called the Road Rash Saloon! (Seriously...it’s a place!) We had such a wonderful adventure that I knew I would absolutely do something like this again in the future.
Fast forward to February 2016 when I received an email message from James Hay, one of the founders of One Run for Boston, informing me about a brand new event that would be taking place in the spring. The United Relay of America is the world's first non-stop relay setting off from Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles and meeting in New York City. The idea was to have all three routes create an unbroken chain of runners across the USA, all raising money for various charity partners.
After looking at the map of each of the three routes, I saw that White Route would be running straight through Oklahoma City on the night of May 21st. I quickly signed up for the stages as I knew that I could convince my running group to join me!
Lucky for me, my crew of Runhers are always up for any crazy running adventures I have up my sleeve! We decided to commit to three separate legs of the relay through OKC for a total of 20 miles. We chose two different charities to support with our running: Arms Around the Child and Girl Rising. We felt strongly about both of these causes and asked all participants to donate to the charities no matter how many miles they decided to run with us. Although we ran three different stages of the relay, each stage was a unique experience. We had a total of 24 participants throughout the night with 8 of them staying for the entire night of activity.
White Route - Stage 200: The first leg was 6 miles long, and started at 10:40 pm. We met at the Chesapeake Boathouse at 10:15 pm to get decked out in our glow-gear. Since we knew we were running through the night, we thought we’d have some fun with our reflective gear!
I decided to ride my bike as support for all the runners for the first leg because I knew my body was not ready for 20 miles of running. With marathon training season starting up soon, I had no interest in injuring myself! The United Relay White Team had two amazing support crew leaders named Mikey and Fran. They were instrumental in coordinating the baton hand-off between stages. They stayed with the baton for the entire cross-country route! I had been following them on social media leading up to our stage and knew they were both from England. I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated their nonstop support so I got them each a little something to remember their time with us in Oklahoma.
Three awesome runners were passing the baton to us after running about 20 miles before us. They decided to join us for another 6 miles along the Oklahoma River, bringing our group to 8 runners and me on my bicycle. It was a beautiful night for a run and the river path was completely deserted. I was happy to bike along different runners, holding supplies and providing support as needed.
It was kind of eery biking along the path at this hour of night. We were the only people out there and it felt both exhilarating and a little bit scary as it was not the safest part of town to be late on a Friday night! We had enough runners where everyone was able to run with at least one other person, which made it more enjoyable for all.
White Route - Stage 201: The second leg of the relay was considered a group stage 5K. Several runners decided to take a break from this leg to rest their legs for the final 10 mile leg and we picked up a few new ones. We took this opportunity to take the baton on a tour of downtown OKC, making an intentional stop at the Oklahoma City Memorial to share an integral piece of history with Fran and Mikey.
White Route - Stage 202: Our final leg of the relay was 10 miles straight east. We rotated Runhers again and even gained a couple Runhims! This part of the relay was scheduled to begin at 2:00 am and would wind through a pretty rough part of town. We had a few support vehicles that leap frogged us through the night. We also contacted the local police departments in Oklahoma City and in neighboring Midwest City to inform them of our route so they might be on the look out for us. To our surprise, we had an officer meet us right as we entered Midwest City at about 2:15 am and he escorted us for the remaining of our relay! It was such an amazing gesture and really enabled us to enjoy the adventure of running through the night on what would normally be a very busy street on a Friday night.
We arrived at about 4am to pass the baton back to Fran and Mikey so they could carry it to the next runner for us. We crammed into our support vehicles and drove back to our meeting place at Chesapeake Boathouse to pick up our cars and head home for some sleep. While most of the runners headed home as soon as possible, I was too hungry to sleep! So myself and two other RunHers made a stop at IHOP to refuel before heading home. I finally got to bed around 6:30 am and managed to sleep a couple of hours before my kids needed my attention. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being Run-gover! But as tough as it was to get through the day, I would do it again all over for the adventure shared with my girls night.