The Relay: Life at a high level

Sometimes I step back in amusement and wonder that after more than four decades of running, how can I still get so excited about the adventures we take. Just as I would study the hands on the clock during 6th period at Jackson Junior High, anticipating recess, I often find myself laying out my workout clothes and checking the time before a rendez-vous with my friends for our next race. Aren’t I supposed to be thinking about more grown-up things than a footrace?

Yet this was the case yesterday in anticipating of a 20K relay, the Occoneechee Speedway Relay. This was a special event in which my partner, Susan, and I would alternate running around a one-kilometer track for a total of 20 laps. Our team name was Raz, in honor of our favorite Chocolate Raspberry Muffin at Bean Traders. And as if that weren’t enough fun, we would be joined by my wife Robin and our friend Cathy (Ma Taz), Sarah and Mike (The Cobblestone Clippers), and Jamie and Kevin (the WokeNeeChee Buddy Brigade). There were probably a dozen other friends in the field of 62 teams.

But let’s not get lost in the details. Here are the important facts: Some of us were trying to run very fast and win. Some wanted to focus on doing the race together. And all of us wanted to honor the event with a respectable effort.

Relays are truly a gift from God, as far as I’m concerned. They give you added incentive to do your best, while building deeper camaraderie and friendship.

I’ve written before about the transcendental experience of the relay race and yesterday’s event lived up to my expectations. This one was made all the more special because it is run on a old dirt race track, a track where Richard Petty won the last race in 1968.

And now picture this: The defending co-ed champion, the Cobblestone Clippers, Sarah and Mike, beating last year’s time by more than three minutes.

Picture this: My wife and I alternating laps with Cathy and Susan, with whom we’ve trained for years and done so many races.

And picture this: Our friends Jamie and Kevin, in their Flash-themed outfits, kicking up mud as they gave it their all.

Days like these cannot be measured by any conventional means. They can only be measured in the knowledge that all the money in the world could not purchase anything better.

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