Market to Market Relay Recap


Last Saturday, I hopped in a van with a bunch of strangers. Why? To run the Market to Market Relay!

Alex, standing just to the left of my bright blue pants (Ha! Can’t miss ‘em, I guess.) in the picture above, was one of my college roommates and has recently become a central Iowa racer extraordinaire, but I’d never met anyone else on our team of seven before. Still, when Alex asked me to join the team, how could I refuse? I knew a one-day, 75-mile relay would seem like a breeze after February’s two-day, 202-mile Ragnar. :) Considering I’m trying to increase my mileage (more on why that is later this week), I quickly volunteered for the longest leg: runner one, to cover 14.9 miles.

The weather was sunny and beautiful but WINDY as we approached the starting line in Jefferson, Iowa at 7:30 a.m. The gusts were up to 40 miles per hour, so the trees along the recreational trail during my first leg were definitely welcome protection from some of that added resistance! I felt strong and comfortable for those first 4.8 miles, chatting with a few fellow runners along the way, and kicked it in at 42:22.

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Clearly, I’m so fast taking off at the start that Alex couldn’t even catch me in the frame of her camera. In my dreams!

Jacki, our second runner, was so worried about other logistics that she accidentally forgot her number in the van and had to sprint back to get it! But just a couple minutes after I finished, she took off strong to keep team “May the Course Be With You” moving.

Since the distances were shorter for this event, it made precision with the van and transition navigation important. We were provided a course map book, but the specific transition areas weren’t differentiated well at all. So we were cruising along at a good pace until runner three, Alex, calls after finishing her leg to ask where she can find the team. Apparently, we had jumped ahead and were awaiting her arrival two transitions down the course! (Sorry Alex, we didn’t really expect you to run that whole way!)  After a 20-minute hustle back to the correct location, we were back on track. Thank goodness everyone on the team was able to keep a positive attitude, despite the impact this would have on our finishing time.

Around noon, it was time for my second and longest leg: 5.8 miles. The race guide said that the route was downhill, but I think they may have been mistaken. The creek that ran alongside the trail was pretty flat, but the trail itself had some rolling hills and one killer climb right at the finish. Maybe it was better that I didn’t know about that ending, though! I handed off to Jacki, without incident, after 48:22.

In between legs, I drank all kinds of water, snacked on fruit and LUNA bars, and tried to stretch and get to know my new friends. Everyone got along surprisingly well, considering we were kind of a mish-mash of ages, careers and backgrounds. It turns out that Ryan, runner seven, owns Iowa Powered Yoga in Urbandale, Iowa. I can’t wait to take one of his classes!

As the day wore on, it became clear that we weren’t going to break any speed records. In fact, as we neared the finish, volunteers started breaking down the course after we passed through the transition areas. Sorry to keep you waiting, folks! :)

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As you can see, I was excited to snag the timing bracelet from Ryan to head out on my last 4.3-mile leg. At this point, we were getting close to home, and it was neat to discover some new paths that I could train on in the future. About midway through this run, we reached a construction zone, which again, wasn’t the most clearly marked area. In fact, a runner from another team looped back to find me because she was unsure where to go. I had no idea myself, but knew that no matter what I wouldn’t be stopping. I was grateful that my intuition didn’t lead us astray, as we came across a sign about a half mile later. My legs felt a bit heavy at this point, so I was happy to hand off one last time to Jacki after 37:27.

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Our team crossed the finish line in Des Moines just under 12 hours after our start time.  Despite the detour, this was quicker than our predicted finish! Each participant received a nice pint glass as the post-race treat. Considering I’m not a beer drinker and am on a mission to fill the slots on my race medal rack by the end of 2013, I wouldn’t have been opposed to a medal, but the glass was a lovely surprise and will be a great ice water-holder!

The race gave me a good chance to try out some new gear, like my fuel belt, before longer runs this summer. I was able to break in my new Mizuno Wave Rider 16 sneaks—which I’m loving, by the way! I also experimented with these wild music speakers since headphones weren’t allowed for safety reasons (very strange, considering the whole course was basically on a bike path).

Market to Market was a fun way to meet some awesome new friends. Would I do it again? Absolutely, but I’d love it if there would be more signs joining me on the driving and running course next time!

Shout-out to Alex for her photo help for this post!

What do you see as the biggest race perks? How about pet peeves?

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  1. What a great race! You did an amazing job (speedy lady!) and it sounds like the event was a lot of fun. I’m glad you were able to try out some new gear – those music speakers sound interesting – and even though it’s too bad they didn’t hand out medals, overall what a cool experience! I also LOVE your team name. :)

  2. Haha, “racer extraordinaire”?

    But seriously, so glad you joined us! I had so much fun doing this race. And thanks for letting me borrow your speakers!!

    Also, completely agree about the sign thing. Hopefully next year will be better!

    • Yes, ma’am! You are a Des Moines-area racing mainstay with Dam to Dam, Run to Exile, Capital Pursuit, etc., etc.

      You are more than welcome to borrow those speakers whenever you like. I don’t think I’ll have a use for them anytime soon! :)

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