If you Google "blind relay" you'll come up with about 700 hits, most of them having to do with HTTP proxy-connections and tunnels, or TTY communications. There was not one running or racing related hit on the Google search, "blind relay" (I looked through all 743) which makes this morning's Strider novelty race a truly NOVEL race!
Striders from the 4 corners converged on Bear Creek Park this morning for the inaugural running the the Blind Relay Novelty Run. What in the world is a blind relay, you ask? Well, the blind part means you don't really know who your team is until the race is over. Actually, by the time the baton is passed to the next to last runner on the 3rd leg, you know who your team is. Confused? Let me try to explain.
Runners arrive randomly and sign in. Each runner is placed in one of 4 legs and their most recent 5K time is recorded. Easy enough, right? The race starts with 8 runners taking off on their 2 mile leg. Now here's where the fun begins. The first runner to complete the first leg hands off to the slowest runner in the 2nd leg (based on 5K time) and part of team 1 is formed. Then 2nd runner to complete leg 1 hands off to the next slowest runner in leg 2 and there you have the genesis of team two. This continues until the last runner in leg 1 hands off to the fastest runner in leg 2. This makes it really interesting because basically the slowest leg 2 runners get a pretty good head start on the fastest leg 2 runners. The first runner to complete leg 2 hands off to the slowest runner in leg 3 and the whole thing just keeps evolving.
The whole thing worked out just as planned as the first 3 teams all finished within just a minute or so of each other and all the teams finished within several minutes of each other. There was even some excitement in the final 100 yards of the last leg. Brett Riley, who started waaaaaay back in last place to start leg 4, picked off 5 other teams to narrowly edge out a very small and fastSteve Bezner in the final few steps of the race. When asked for his comment, future Boston Qualifier Steve Bezner had no comment.
Now the coolest thing about this race for me and the reason it was such a milestone in my running career, not to be repeated in the very near future, was that I had the honor and the privilege to take the handoff from none other than HARRA top 10 open male Runner of the Season for 2006, David Minken. Then if that wasn't enough of an honor, I got to hand off to another top 10 Runner of the Season, Andrew Keller. Patrick rounded off leg 4 of this elite team (well, 3/4 elite) in fast form, flying across the finish to the roar of Strider crowds.
Now where else but in the Strider Nation is a runner like me going to be joined with a team like that for a 4 x 2 mile relay. Actually, we did pretty well, IMHO. Look out X-Country Relay!!! Here we come!!!
Oh, by the way, I threw down two 11:35 miles. Look out Fired Up 5K!!!