Race Report - Reach the Beach 2008

According to their website, the Reach the Beach Relay is the longest distance relay race in the United States. It took place this past weekend, starting at the Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH. From Cannon Mountain, 355 relay teams ran 200 miles "through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, past fields, lakes, mountain top vistas, and the occasional covered bridge" which, incidentally, was a gift shop; "ultimately finishing along the Atlantic coastline at Hampton Beach State Park, NH".

That, my friends, is the race literature. What follows, in exhausting and smelly detail, is my experience. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I came to be part of RTB through a combination of both luck and stupidity. Good luck for me in that RunninginNYC's sister is nursing an injury and dropped out (bad luck for her, of course), and sheer stupidity that convinced me that taking two days off from work during a busy month was a good idea. But what's done is done, and I am fully convinced that I came out ahead when all was said and done.

After much procrastination, I finally finished up my laundry and packing on Thursday morning (see previous blog posts for further information). With time to spare (surprisingly enough), I set out to pick up
RunninginNYC and Teetime at the Tarrytown Train Station, packed them into the car, and off we went! It was an uneventful 4 hour trip up to Danvers, MA (no tickets! YAY!), and once there we met Notey, Oache and Dr. Oache at the van rental location.

Armed with 4 massive white 15 passenger vans, we made our way to Notey's house. Once there, we picked up the remainder of the crew traveling with us to Hampton Beach. Let the games begin!

Thursday night was a blur of new names and faces, met over dinner and beer (lobster flavored butter and an enormous Newcastle, to be precise). Bellies full, we all made our way back to the hotel, and bunked down for the evening.
RunninginNYC and I were extra-special - our bed came complete with it's own mini-beach! Gotta love the feel of sand between your toes as you drift off into sleep.....

Bright and early Friday morning we crammed our stuff into the vans, grabbed some substandard Dunkin' Donuts, and drove to the start at Cannon Mountain. Gorgeous mountains gave way to a sea of....vans. White vans. Lots of them. As far as the eye could see. Vans dressed up as ambulances, barns, you name it - it was there. That was the first time I realized just how HUGE this relay race was. We took some time to decorate the vans, and then it was time to head over to the Start!

After going through the regulatory inspections and sitting through orientation we wandered around a bit, and before long it was time for Teetime to launch us into the RTB Relay with Leg #1. Once she passed beneath the start banner, we were officially on our way to Hampton Beach. Only 199.99 miles to go!

The next two days were a blur of activity (when we weren't sitting on our tushes in the van, of course!). As each runner set off on their leg, we would go ahead out on the course, check up on them and then meet them at their finish, with the next runner ready to go and waiting for the hand off. Usually it went off without a hitch. I, of course, managed to be in the porta-potty when Teetime came in for the first hand off. Yes, I am that good. Only made that mistake once, though.....

When we weren't running, we were driving. Run, drive, stretch. Rinse, repeat as desired. Ate entirely too many pretzels, swedish fish, PB/nutella/banana/fluff sandwiches. Drank a never ending supply of Coke Zero, Gatorade and the too-occasional water. Always ate too soon before a run, and never soon enough afterwards.

Here's a description of my legs, followed by my translation:

Leg 2: 8.9 miles: hard
[map] 12:51 pm. 1:26:31, 9:35mm avg
  • Leg 2 is one of the longest legs of the race and is rated “hard” due to its length. You will continue down Rt. 3 into the town of Twin Mountain, NH. Once there, you will head east onto Rt. 302 and transition at Bretton Woods Ski resort which was been part of RTB for 9 out of the past 10 years.
Rain. Cold, wet, dreary rain. Gotta love getting nailed by tractor-trailer-rain-spray while running along a highway. I think there were some pretty trees. But mostly highway.

Leg 12: 3.9 miles: easy [map] 9:43 pm, 34:47, 9:04 mm avg
  • The runners for Leg 12 will leave White Lake State Park from the back entrance (vehicles will double back to Rt. 16) and turn right onto Depot Road. Continue along Route 16 for seven tenths of a mile before taking a right turn onto Depot Road. The course continues on Depot Road until the intersection with Tamworth Road where it turns left. Follow Tamworth Road for eight tenths of a mile before reaching the Kenneth Brett School and transition #12. This is VTA #2.
Dark. Mud. Dark. Puddles. More main roads. Did I mention it was wet? Not as wet as my first leg, and not as wet as both of Teetimes, but it was wet.

Leg 22: 5.4 miles: easy-moderate QUIET ZONE! [map] 7:15 am, 49:41, 9:00 mm avg
  • Leg 22 leaves the Barnstead Elementary School and makes a right onto South Barnstead Road/Rt. 126. The runners will follow this road back to Route 28 and turn left. They will stay on this route until they reach Leavitt Rd where they will turn left. They’ll make a quick right turn into an office park (vans will continue going straight for another 100 yards) and then run into TA22 Globe Manufacturing facility parking lot.
Gloriously Dry. Smooshed frog burial grounds along - you guessed it - the highway!

Leg 31: 2.5 miles: easy [map] 3:22 pm, 21:40, 8:42 mm avg
  • Leg 31 leaves VTA#5 and continues down Rt. 111 and eventually turning left onto Main St. You will run past Kingston State Park (our old VTA#5) and rejoin Rt. 111 before transitioning at Sanborn Regional HS#2 on the left..
Oh look, the sun. Great. Oops - in my rush to finish my last leg I started out at a 7mm pace. Neighborhood run, short, quick, painful. Done. Done. Done! My contribution to RTB 2008 was at an end.

Once the rest of my team completed their legs, we made short work of the beer stash, and headed back to our lovely hotel. After dinner, I searched for the elusive Chipwich to no avail. Dejected, I retired to bed only to discover that RunninginNYC and I struck gold TWICE and once again had our own private beach tucked into our sheets.

Sunday dawned rainy and cool, and the weary runners once again piled into vans - but this time to return home.

I think I'm still tired :)

Short version - great weekend, fabulous people, varied course and what has to have been the most well-organized race I have ever participated in. Many thanks to Notey for putting it all together, RunninginNYC for dragging me into it, and Oache & Heater for being the best drivers ever!

Who's in for 2009?


  1. Way to go Staci!!

    Sounds like there were some weather concerns for you!

    And a 7mm pace- WOW now that's fast!

    Glad you had fun! :)

    Thanks for posting the full report and descripiton. You are my running hero!

  2. Heather - trust me, it didn't last longer than half a mile :)

  3. Hey Girl, thanks for sharing your experience. Between your report and pictorial assay, it felt like I was there (of course dry). It reminded me of Hood to Coast (198 miles)in 2004, sleepless 26 hours or so, but lots of fun. See you out there soon...

    Yoda from The Outer Loop :)


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