I just returned from running the 200-mile Reach the Beach relay, the longest distance running race in the U.S.
The course starts at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire, runs through the gorgeous White Mountains, and ends at the Atlantic Ocean on the soft sands of Hampton Beach. I joined an 11-person team named Fox Chase 2. Fox Chase 1 was there too, competing with us head-to-head from start to finish.
Here’s how it works: each team has 2 vans with 6 runners in each. There are 36 legs divided among the runners, which means we run 3 times before finishing (usually somewhere around 24 hours, give or take 4 hours). Since we were only able to secure 11 runners per team this year, a few of us ran 4 legs. The biggest mistake people make is running the first leg as hard as they can, then crashing and burning later in the race. But even if you hold back somewhat in the earlier legs, by the end, you’re sore, exhausted from lack of sleep and stinky. But you're in a good mood, happy that it's over. If you have to ask why we keep coming back to do this race each year, you obviously are a perfectly sane human being.
After reaching the beach and collecting our finisher medals, we celebrated with burgers and beer at Fox Chase, New Hampshire, our team’s namesake and the home of fellow runner Mark Loehr, an extraordinary entrepreneur and generous host. It takes a special person to invite over 20 unwashed runners into your home, and he does it annually for this event.
Our team has been called Fox Chase for years, but we got a lot more attention than usual this time around because of our name. In the past two weeks, over 30 million people have watched this ridiculously silly video, “What Does the Fox Say?” which comes from the Norwegian comedy show “Ylvis”
Throughout the 25+ hours we were on the course, random runners often screamed out “ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding,” smiling like fools and dancing like a rabid fox. It may have been our own team members who did the screaming and dancing, maybe me too. Not really sure. After all that running and lack of sleep, I don’t remember much. I do know this: all Ylvis needed to do was find a Japanese person, who could have told him that, in Japanese, a fox says “kon kon.” That should have settled it without the need to go to all the trouble of making the video that went viral like a fox with rabies.
Here are some pics:
Fox Chase teammates at one of the foggy early morning transition areas
Patrick Kaufer and Tom O'Brien with the secret to running a 200-mile relay: brownies for breakfast
At the end of my 4th leg, stiff, sore and ready for burgers and beer
Fox Chase Teams 1 and 2 after reaching the beach!