I’m not the biggest fan of running on rails-to-trails paths (the long straight views and unchanging narrow surface tend to exaggerate the distances for me), but the shadows, the surrounding farm fields, and the gentle rural sounds of birds and breeze in the trees made up for that.
The setting was perfect, so peaceful and quiet, only the birds chirping and me panting. The path was shaded so it was nice to have my tougher leg done before it got warm.
This leg (leg 5) starts out with some fairly steep switchbacks, followed by 4.1 miles of gradual downhill. This is a beautiful section of the Banks-Vernonia Trail, almost like running through a tunnel of mossy trees, ferns, with short sunny sections. The every-half-mile trail markers were great, since I was out of cell service and without my usual MapMyRun friend giving me my progress and pace.
I’ve never been on the Banks-Vernonia trail, so running along a gorgeous trail shaded a fair bit by tall trees was a nice introduction. Aside from the very end of the run, the whole 4.2 miles was along the trail, marked every half mile so I had an idea how far I was into my leg.
Hanging out with the team – as opposed to getting in a bike workout between my runs – was a blast. So much better than more time on my bike. I loved getting to know everyone. I can still picture Joe in the backseat trying to get a connection to buy his Tom Petty concert tickets, people snacking on peanut butter pretzels and laughing while Mark and Joe performed their duties as Team Waterboys. I loved getting to hear more about Anne’s real job, get inspired with Marianne running her legs while 5 ½ months pregnant, listening to Kelly talk about future runs and pestering Mark for splits in between legs.
I LOVE one day relays. I think they are the perfect way to get the relay experience without the added time commitment of a weekend event. Twelve Bridges was extremely well-organized, had fun race shirts, great medals and, most importantly, Race Directors with a passion. The baked potato bar at the finish line was so appreciated, as well as the music and finish line party. This relay had a beautiful course and I can’t wait to run it again. I hope they open it up for more teams so it won’t be quite so lonely along the course, but it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday!
You can download a fantastic team time sheet to figure out your projected starting and ending times – a very handy tool. There is also very helpful information on the Course Info page, complete with directions, course handbooks, and leg difficulty ratings. Follow the race on Facebook for updates.
Twelve Bridges Relay (North Plains)
When: Saturday, May 30, 2015; Teams start between 6a and 9a
Where: North Plains Elementary School; finish at Jesse Mays Community Center
Register: Registration was sold out for this year, but a few teams just opened up. Register before it’s too late!
$390 – 6 Person Team
$260 – 4 Person Team
$195 – 3 Person Team
$130 – 2 Person Team
$65 – Solo