By Mandy Wahl
I have been consistently running for about 9 years, but always watched other people complete relay races with jealousy. You see, I am not the fastest runner and never wanted to be considered the weak link for a relay. I wish I could tell my former self to stop the self-doubt, go for it, and have fun. I may have just been lucky to be asked to be on really cool teams, but every time I do a relay, it’s about more than running.
I have now done countless relay teams and every time I learn something new about myself, as well as create new friendship and develop old ones to become stronger. There is something to be said when you meet 6-8 people who will dress up as pirates, unicorns, or whatever someone comes up with. There is also a distinct bonding experience that happens when you put 6 people in a van that smells at the end of 2 days with little sleep, but lots of smiles and hugs! I remember running the Fleet Feet Pickle months after giving birth and finding my running confidence back because of being on team “Slow and Steady.” You find out that you can climb mountains, run fast, and there is something about the finish line that is just a little sweeter when you work with others to cross it. I now have an amazing community of runners that surround me and lift me up, both in running and in life. I owe most of it to relay races.
My Blue Ridge Relay Captain, Jackie Allred, says it much more eloquently than I do when I posed the question of “why run a relay?” “The camaraderie of the experience among the members of the team and among all the teams participating. Everyone is encouraging each other. At that moment when you think you can’t push through you have an entire team behind you supporting you. It can break up the constant race pace we can so easily find ourselves getting in when we solo run/race all the time. Gives you the opportunity to accomplish new goals and to try different techniques.”
(Blue Ridge Relay)