Sunday, December 20, 2015

34th Christmas Island Relay

Yesterday morning, Brad dragged me out of bed -- with a text, not a nudge -- to come join him in the 34th Christmas Island Relay. The race starts at the Pacific Islands Club on the south end of the island and stretches to the Last Command Post at the north end of the island. Teams of 5 take turns running mile long stretches along the 13.7 mile course.

We were down a runner thanks to poor babysitting planning, but we still managed to live up to our name: One Metric Ton. Brad, Matt, Max, and I were four of the most out of shape runners lining up for the race. Undaunted, Max readied to run the first leg of the race.

I ran the second leg. After the starting gun, Max dug in for his mile, and the rest of team piled into Brad's car and zoomed off to the first mile marker where I greeted two of my challengers, Kimiko and Natalie.  The first runner pounded in and high-fived his teammate, but Max was nowhere to be seen.  A total of 22 teams were competing.  The first five runners came and went.  Then another five.  And then there he was was.  I got the high five and took off chasing after Kimi and Natalie.  And I caught Natalie before the end of the mile!  Not bad considering the obvious weight and fitness differential between the two of us.

After I tagged Brad he took off for his first mile.  The rest of the team piled back into the car and made our way to the third mile.  Then the fourth.  Fifth.  At six it was my turn to run again.  The energy in the photo below is all for show.  I spent everything I had in my first mile so I could beat Natalie.

And so it went down Beach Road and through American Memorial Park.  I tagged in for my third run somewhere around Tanapag and then tagged back out in front of the Aqua Resort.  Our team was running at roughly the same speed as four other teams:  Kimiko's team of expat women, two teams of Japanese elementary school kids, and a group of Chamorro guys with similar fitness levels to our team plus a very fit Indonesian girl.

The photos I took in front of the old Nikko Hotel (mile marker 11) highlight how our race went.  Brad was finishing his final run (of three) and Matt was beginning his.  We were trailing 2 of the 4 teams mentioned above.  Kimi's team came first.  Look at the intensity!  There were in this race and were not giving up!  They ended up finishing ahead of us.

And look at the face on the Japanese kid as he makes his tag!  He is giving it everything he has, and his teammate is ready to give it his all!  Both teams of elementary school kids would end up beating us, too.

Not One Metric Ton.  We're fat old guys.  At this point we just wanted to finish.  Better go chase that little kid, Matt.

I ran the final leg.  Alright, I'll be honest.  I was responsible for running the last leg and did my best to approximate running. 

The trailing team of elementary school students had passed Brad just before he tagged Matt, but Matt would keep pace, and Max would pass the team over the next two miles.  I had the lead at mile 13, but they overtook me again in the last quarter mile, just before the finish line -- or was it the first quarter mile.  Probably the first.  I was tired.

Towards the finish line Max and Brad hopped out of the car and we crossed the finish line together, with Matt driving.  We joked that our team name could also have been We're Not Last.  Maybe next year.

I took a lot more photos of the race.  You can see them on Facebook.

P.S. It's been a fun week in Saipan and it's quickly coming to an end.  I've basically had two conversations over and over with different people who I have seen in months or years.  The first goes like this, "Hi, Angelo.  Where's Edz?"  The second conversation is about me, "Hi, Angelo.  You're fat!"

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