Where to start? To outsiders, it may seem as easy as getting from one point to the next, faster then the competition. Well, RTO is so much more than that. Winning the RTO, with a course record no less, requires a lot of; pain, planning, bodily fluids, liquids, anxiety, faith/confidence, support, and a kickass vehicle to get you from point A to B. Also I would like to think having a bossy blonde helps a bit as well. This year team Runny Bums had 13 runners; okay 12 runners and one blonde. I was on team Runny Bums last year and was planning to be on it this year before a stress fracture crushed my plans. Still, I wanted to come and support the team as much as I could. My job unofficially and officially was nothing… ha! Tell a woman she has no job and she will create one. So, I got to have a fun perspective of the race this year by switching on and off with whichever van had runners out on the road and did a little of this and that.
Planning: Team Runny Bums has spreadsheets and they use them. On the sheets are goal times each runner should aim to make on their leg. It’s nice to have someone passively telling you to run fast even when you feel that you can’t. That stupid little pace recommendation is on your mind and you don’t want to let the team down. So, pooing your pants or not, you’re going to try your hardest to get from point A to B. Another Runny Bums plan was to eliminate detrimentally “bad handoffs” or time lag between passing the bracelet from one runner to the next. Teammates and myself would try and scout up ahead from the handoff and yell when we saw our runner coming down. The whole team was active in making sure the next guy running was ready. I do remember a leg where I felt horribly guilty when I missed our runny bum but thank goodness our guy was ready anyways. I was beating myself up for not recognizing him. Then the story came out and he had some … eh…issues and had to use his hat for a purpose we won’t be seeing any Nike commercials about. That hat was the only way I was going to recognize him in the pitch dark, with a headlamp shining in my eyes. I now understand why the crazy outfits could be beneficial in RTO.
Pain: There were some new Runny Bums this year. The brothers (2), the Portland guys (2), Boise Guy (1),… this is how someone A.D.D. like myself remembers them for the first few hours. Then, I realized, these guys are funny and not the stereotypical “dorky/unsociable” long distance runners that sometimes are a last minute fill at events like these. NO. These guys were badass! I can honestly say I witnessed the guys run beyond what their bodies would allow at times. Hence, there were lots of upset stomachs and nausea meds being digested. Being an active bystander this year was an interesting experience. Looking in I could tell some of the guys would be concerned about how they were going to push again for their next run, but they would always get out there and exceed everyone’s expectations. Like I said, sometimes there were consequences afterwards…. such as a guy who had just finished getting sick in the bushes and was being yelled at by me to get the heck in the van, throw-up and all. This is were a woman came in hand. Men are more laid back when it comes to timeframes and/or yelling at one another when one’s almost barfing his guts out. Another self appointed job as the "Bossy Lady" with the team, was trying my best to yell at remind people to eat! Sounds easy enough right? Well, not when its 3 in the morning and you're battling stomach issues, with sleep calling your name. The key is to eat sugar and protein within 30 minutes after your run so you can replenish your glycogen stores and be ready to rock in a few hours.
Liquids: It’s simple folks, don’t drink beer if you want to put your best effort out. As a team, Runny Bums respects the event and the spirit of pushing yourself as hard as you can throughout the Odyssey. This means hydrating with water before and after each leg. Everyone comes to RTO with different goals in mind (i.e having fun, raising money, just finishing, partying), which is understood and respected. But team Runny Bum’s goal this year was to win and get a course record. So, when we saw the past year’s champs chugging Keystones after leg 3, we took it as more of a slap tap in the face, like they are saying, “Hey, we can chug beers and still win”. Silently, we hoped that our forgoing the partying until after would pay off and that little Sparky (not real name) who’s chugging beers gets feeling barfy. which he did.
The win: One point during the race we were down from the leaders by 14 minutes. With two legs left we were down 6 minutes…we have the strongest runner, Brandon, on the second to last leg and he cranks out 5:30 miles for his hilly 6 miles and eats into two and a half minutes. As we drive the van, we see Sparky slogging off and we all look at each other and we think the same thing. “You can get him Tony”. Tony is from Portland and, little known to most of us at the time, has a history of running until he ends up in the hospital. He runs hard and doesn’t stop until his body forces him to. Tony goes out and looks like a machine. But we don’t see Sparky, “Wait? Is that him? He crossed the street!” someone yells out. Clever chap, it was a good idea, but once Tony locked in on him, he just reeled him in. That’s when we realized we could smash the record. Luke yells out “ You’re gonna get the record Tony!” That’s when Tony really put the burners on and as he reached Sparky the last mile, they high-fived and Sparky collapsed into a puking fit while Tony went on to victory.
It feels good. I feel so happy that the Runny Bums won, mostly because most of them have ties with Reno. I also like that Runny Bums have some more mature members on the team, some have never ran on a college team, some have kids, and some might say they are the underdogs. But this year, after 5 years, 4 of them being the bridesmaid but never the bride, the Runny Bums are the champions. Now is the time to crack a beer.