Cannon to Hampton Beach or Bust!

September 14, 2014 Off By mkelly

About 3 years ago I met two of my closest running friends, Martin and Amanda at boot camp.  Since then I have done countless training runs, multiples races, hundreds of November Project workouts AND run the Boston Marathon with them by my side. Yet when they asked me (multiple times) to do Reach the Beach, I thought they were nuts! “You want me to run 200 miles (with no shower) AND sleep in a minivan with 6 other people?!?!? No Thanks!” It wasn’t the 200 miles that scared me away, but the sleeping (or lack there of) in a mini van with 6 other smelly adults! I’m not 20 years old anymore, staying up for 24-36 hours while simultaneously running 200 miles is not something that appealed to me at all!

The last time they asked me was about 6 months ago, and we were in the throes of Boston Marathon training. I thought, if I’m going to do this at least once, maybe this was the year to get it out of the way. I mean most of my non-running friends already think I’m crazy, so why not throw them a bone!

Fast forward to this weekend…my first Reach the Beach. 208 miles from Cannon, NH in the White Mountains to Hampton Beach. I can’t say I was super excited about this adventure, but I was going to put on my best game face and try to enjoy myself. The journey was off to a bit of a rocky start when my wake up call came at 3:45am on Friday morning. It also didn’t help that when we got up to Franconia and stepped out of the van it was FREEZING!! This was going to be a long weekend…


Start Line

We made it through the safety meeting (apparently peeing in the woods gets you disqualified), picked up our bibs, took a group photo (Team Sassy Pants) and then sent Martin on his way. We met up with him again about half way through his 8 mile leg for water/gatorade and then made our way to the first transition area and the start of my first leg. It was here where I ran into my friends Kristen and Katie (not running friends, but friends who run). Seeing them helped ease my nerves a bit. My leg was described as being “very hard” by the race handbook, but about a mile or so in I was so in awe of the gorgeous views of the White Mountains that my 8.9 miles flew by and before I knew it, I was passing the “baton” (read: RTB slap bracelet) to Amanda.


White Mountain National Forest

It went on like that for the next couple of hours, passing the baton, stopping for runner support and making our way slowly but surely to the Van transition area in North Conway, NH. At this point, we passed the reins to Van 2 and went to get lunch. The wheels started falling off (at least for me) on our way to the next transition area. SIRI (that bitch) was acting up and we ended up at the wrong transition area. While trying to turn around we encountered a very rude race volunteer, and I almost lost my shit. It was at this moment when Team ARRRGH saved the day! Mr. Pirate Man, as I affectionately named him, appeared to just be laying on the top of the van, but when picking up speed it pops straight up. It instantly changed the mood in the van from anger to instant laughter! At the end of our last leg we caught up with Team ARRRGH again, except this time Mr. Pirate Man was laying deflated along the side of the van. Even though he was dead, I needed to give him a hug for saving the day (and my relay)!


RIP Mr. Pirate Man

We had a few missed exchanges (it’s hard to see in the dark), some mid-leg switch offs due to injuries (Dylan, get into this van NOW!), and a late addition (Welcome Lauren) but we made it through our second legs relatively unscathed! While Van 2 continued to run through the night/early morning it was FINALLY time for some sleep! We probably got a good 3-3 1/2hrs sleep before we were at it again.

What our night legs looked like.

What running at night looks like in rural NH.

This final stretch was by far the best part of the relay, and not because it was almost over, but because when you are running (literally) on 3hrs sleep EVERYTHING is hilarious! I was also in a van with people as equally sarcastic and cynical as myself, so the commentary was priceless. (A few of our gems, which naturally became hashtags, #hewascuterinthedark, #whereisyourpepnowfragglerock, #onlyhardassescanwearbootyshorts, and #getoffmylawnorIwillshootyou) I think it was during these last legs that I went from, I will NEVER do this again to when is the next one?

Photo credits to Amanda Dezak

Photo credits to Amanda Dezak

After the final van 1 hand-off in Kingston, NH we stopped for lunch then made our way to Hampton Beach to reunite with van 2 to run the last 100 feet or so of the relay together as a team. The 11 of us standing on the beach waiting for John was kind of awesome. I had never run a race as a team before, most races are an individual effort, and this was far from it! Running across the finish line with these 12 people was amazing. No matter how many miles we ran as individuals, we never would have made it to Hampton Beach without each other!!

Photo Credits to Liza Brauns

Photo Credits to Liza Brauns

Final Thoughts: When you run a marathon, inevitably someone will ask you (usually as soon as you cross the finish line) if you’ll run another marathon. 99% of the time your answer is a resounding NO! Ask a week or so later and the answer, 99% of the time, will be I already signed up for xyz marathon. So when I sent the hubs a text Thursday night saying and I quote “I am NEVER doing this again!” (referring to RTB) his response was “I’ve heard that before…” While I admit that I have said that once or twice before, I really thought that Reach the Beach was going to suck. I was really only doing it because I promised my friends I would do it at least once with them. As hard as it is for me to admit, I was wrong. It didn’t suck, it was actually a lot of fun. Was I exhausted and smelly? YES! But did I have a unforgettable adventure with some great people? YES!! Thank You Team Sassy Pants for a allowing me to be a part of your team and for a great weekend! I’m not saying that I’ll do another Reach the Beach, but if you ask me to be on your team I probably won’t say no.