klondike road relay 2014: part 1

Forgive me if this turns into a long-winded post with too many sequels.  It's just that I am not entirely sure how to begin to describe this experience.  If you've done it...then you know.  If not, you should just do it and then you'll know.  

Last Wednesday afternoon, Team Solid Gold Inferno (8 women and one guy) piled into a RV with the intention of driving 800+ miles to run a 100 mile overnight relay, and then drive the 700+ miles back home.  In 4.5 days.  

Motorhome

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We left town at about 5pm on Wednesday, drove to Palmer and made a quick stop at the Fred Meyer for last minute supplies.  Then headed to Glenallen, where we stopped to get gas and eat a quick dinner.  

matanuska glacier and moon

By the time we left Glenallen it was quite dark (I think it was just after 8pm).  Not far down the road I spotted something in the distance...in the road.  It turned out to be a family of bears (mama and two cubs) hanging out in the middle of a seldom used highway and quite surprised to have a large object with bright lights barreling towards them.  Our fearless driver slammed on the breaks (not the best breaks to begin with) while mama bear tried to figure out whether to attack (thank goodness we were in an RV because if we had been in a car, I'm pretty sure she would have clobbered it) or flee.  I've never seen such a large animal bounce around and look so angry.  They finally decided on heading for the bushes about the time we came to a full stop.  Almost everyone was asleep and rudely awakened to things flying past them as we tried to stop.  Good old Newton's 2nd Law!

Further down the road we got to experience some really amazing aurora.  They were super bright and dancing all over the place.  We even got a little hint of red/purple at one point.  It was awesome!

We rolled into Tok sometime around 1am I think and promptly went to sleep.  The next morning we were on the road by 8am.  We made it into Skagway about 8pm on Thursday evening.  It was raining.  We parked the RV at the campground spot we had and headed out for some dinner.  

I was totally exhausted and not feeling well at that point, so I went to bed.  The rest of the team stayed up and decorated shirts for the next days festivities (there was lots of gold glitter paint).  

Friday morning we got up around 8am to torrential downpour and winds gusting to 65mph.  We headed out for breakfast anyway...you can't let a little weather get in your way.  When we got back, I put my crafty skills to work and decorated my shirt to complete my gold outfit.  We also worked on last minute preparations for the race (extra supplies, refilling water, gas, cleaning, organizing, etc.) and then pulled the RV out of the campground and went to find a parking spot that would allow us a quick exit (several roads would be closed later due to the race and we needed to quickly get out to follow our runner).  

The plan was to be at the start by 5:45pm for our 6:15 start time.  So around 5:30pm we suited up in our best gold attire...and headed out to send Jessie off on the first leg.  The wind was still fierce, but we established that it would at least be a tailwind and not a headwind.  

gold legs

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Apparently when you put on gold clothing in a tourist town...everyone thinks you are important.  As we strutted our stuff down the street we noticed that we were being filmed and photographed by tourists.  As we waited for the race to start, people kept coming up to us and asking if they could have a photo with us.  Um, weird and awesome all at the same time.  

Here's Jessie before the start of Leg 1:

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At 6:15pm, we sent her on her way and ran back to the motorhome to get going.  Leg 1 is tough, with a run through town and some massive hills.  It was windy and rainy, but still pretty!

KRR Leg 1KRR Leg 1 KRR Leg 1
Jessie tagged off to Audrey...and leg 2 began!

KRR leg 2 exchange

Audrey hauled it on her first leg.  Way to kill the uphill!!

KRR Leg 2The gold sure made it easy to spot our teammates (in the daylight).  By the time Audrey finished her first leg it was dark...and we were at the top of the pass so it was also foggy.  Audrey tagged off to me...and I set out into the darkness for my first leg...

Stay tuned for part 2!