Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Running as a Team Sport

One of the things that I have always loved about running is the fact that it is not a team sport. When you want to run, you can - anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to rely on someone other than yourself to get out and run. You just lace up your shoes and you are good to go.

This weekend, I learned that running can be a team sport when I ran a running relay race that covered 190 miles in North Georgia. There were twelve members of my team, and there were nearly 50 teams that were all a part of this “team” event. It was a new and very unique running experience.

When we started, we did not know quite what to expect. We planned for what we thought we needed for the two day race. Running in the dark, running as a team, and running over 190 miles in two days. Even with all the planning, there were things that we could not have planned for. There were hills that we had not anticipated, a few more miles than we had planned on and there were unexpected local animals that came out to see who on earth was running through their neighborhood.

In spite of the fact that our planning did not cover everything we encountered, what I learned that running as a team sport is where fellow teammates encouraged and supported each other to get you through all of the unexpected “surprises” on the course. We laughed, we complained, we whined a bit and some even threw up, but in the end, we all had such a great time. This encouragement showed me a different side of runners that were all bound together to conquer 190 miles in two days.

Support came not only from teammates, but other teams who shared the experience. Along the course, when someone got lost, there were runners who directed them back to the course. When someone was struggling up a hill, there were those who ran or walked along side rather than breeze by them to finish first. And, when someone needed water, gu, food, or even a laugh, the support teams were there – whether they were your support team or not. There were also volunteers stationed in the middle of nowhere that offered words of encouragement, candy, water and directions. I appreciated every one of them.

This weekend provided another new and different opportunity to share my love of running with over 500 fellow runners all running as a team.