8 runners, 80 miles.
Here in the deep south of Illinois (yes the state exists south of I-80, south of I-64 and even south of Route 13) runners can participate in a relay that spans 80 miles across the southern part of the state from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. This race takes place on the third Saturday in April every year…rain or shine, snow or hail, freezing or warm. Sometimes a terrible combination of many of the options listed in the last sentence.
Teams are made up of 8 runners and each runner runs 3 different times during the day. Each run ranges between 2.5 – 4ish miles. Runners run in order, 1 – 6, so ample time is given between each run. This doesn’t make it any easier, however. 😉 80 miles is still a lot of miles for even a group of 8 people run so it makes for a long day, but it most certainly makes for a fun day!
When most people think of the state of Illinois, they think of plains and cornfields. That is a big part of the state, the middle and northern part, but the most southern part is comprised of beautiful, rolling hills. We sometimes even call them our small mountains. Since these hills span the entire lower portion of the state, it make for a pretty difficult course.
For the second year in a row, I was Runner 6. My first year, I was 17 weeks pregnant with my third baby and chose runner 2. To me, it looked like the easiest overall.
Even though I’ve only been running this race for 3 years, it has always held a special place in my life. As a little girl, my dad ran on a team with a bunch of his buddies, The Sultans of Stride. We would make our way down early afternoon and find a place to park on a side road and sit in the sun and cheer the runners on when they went by. It was always so fun to see the guys we knew go by. Then we’d head to the finish line where we’d play in downtown Golconda, IL while the guys got a bite to eat and just hung out. There were a lot of little kids that belonged to the 8 men (and their wives) so we would have a blast! In fact, we always dreamed of having a team of our own. That hasn’t happened, but I do think it would be fun to all get back together. This time the dads can do the cheering. 🙂
If you live in southern Illinois and have never been to this event, I encourage you to make the drive to Pope County next April and join in on the fun! Even if you’re not a runner, you can still have a good time!