Texas' Most Wild and Crazy Springtime Relay-come along with me on an insane weekend journey!
The Texas Independence Relay is composed of 36 relay legs of various lengths, totaling close to 200 miles. The course starts in Gonzales, where the spark of the Texas Revolution took place, and it finishes in the preeminent city of Houston, where Texas Independence was won!
If you think this sounds insane you are correct! We actually pay to do this! I just returned from my 3rd race, wow. Thanks to my BFF Cassie, she somehow keeps convincing me to do it again. (Now for the record, I am the slowest on the team but I am a female. The team needs females to be in the co ed division. And quite frankly the pool of females gets slim when it gets down to an overnight relay. So once again, Corsicana Running Club was stuck with me! I decided the 1 thing I am good for is #1, I am a girl!)
The team changes give or take each year for various reasons like injuries or kid activities, but the core remains the same! They are the people who will hold your hand or slap your butt through fits of hungry delusion, bathroom mishaps, and all the highs and lows along the way. With some last minute changes, Coach brought us 3 amazing high school students to save the day.
“Spending 24 plus uninterrupted hours with 11 sweating friends means you almost necessarily come back a different, stronger, nicer, weirder person. That’s the point!"
We met at Northside Baptist Church parking lot Friday morning and caravanned to Houston, where we rented 2 15 passenger vans. Kristen and Shea will run with an all girls team “Mother Truckers”. We then head west to Gonzales where our fearless captain Joel booked our motel rooms. After a fun pasta dinner, some attended the pre party and others turned in for the night. My roomie and I had a smoker’s room, so clever Cassie decides to put her bags/clothes in the fridge for protection from the smoke smell. As if that is going to be our biggest concern down the road...haha!
The guys are ready to roll early Saturday morning. Some teams start as early as 6 am! Our cannon shot was going off closer to noon. Nerves and excitement and upset stomachs are in full force by now. We head to the starting point, cannon goes off and we all run ¼ mile prologue with our first Runner Jose!
This year, the weather was not our friend (at least not mine). A cold front blew through Texas mid day Saturday with very high winds that never let up. Even with the cold temps, we were still able to enjoy all the bluebonnets and other wild flowers, beautiful plantation homes, longhorns, and historic landmarks. Some views looked like paintings.
Night legs can be both exhilarating and nerve wrecking. There are few lights along Highway 90, making reflective vests and headlamps a mandatory accessory for all runners. Another runner wrote, “Hay bales become chupacabras, sign posts transform into Texas Chainsaw Massacre villains. “ On some of the night runs you may run 3 miles and never see another runner.
We hit the outskirts of Houston when the sun was coming up. (The smells on the vans are getting super strong). The runners see signs of civilization again. Local police are there to assist passing runners and help safeguard them from dicey traffic situations. Soooo by now we are on zero sleep, ready for real food (not a PB&J or Turkey sandwich) AND a bit stinky.
Finally leg 36! Joel is ready to run it to the finish line! We reunite with Joel in Buffalo Bayou Park. And guess what is waiting for us: a very cold can of Lone Star beer! For 24 hours we are a family. 24 hours of No sleep, minimal food, tight sweaty spaces and large amounts of potty talk- it is over. Joel, Derek, Bryan, Chris, Coach, Jose, Sam, Gildardo, Jesus, Isaac and Cassie, WE DID IT!
We get our medals, take pics, eat free pizza and the reminiscing already begins. Talk of next year erupts.