Lake Winnipesaukee Relay

Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay

September 10, 2011

I got an email message from Shannon (Paul’s wife) maybe a month ago that they needed a replacement runner for the Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay.  It took me all of 10 seconds to jump on the chance to do it.  I had wanted to put together a team for this year, but was having a hard time finding 8 morons friends who would be willing to suffer for a day.
The relay is a 65 mile, 8 leg relay around Lake Winnipesaukee in the lakes region of New Hampshire.  I had first heard about it last year as my interest in running events was growing.  The 2011 edition was the 23rd running of the event.  Though we did later find out that it used to be on Cape Cod and moved up to Lake Winni after the town of Barnstable, MA refused to let the race come through anymore (jerks!).

So the race turned out to be the Ayers Family, 3 Rhodes and a Lane.  I had done the 2010 Reach The Beach Relay with most of these people so we already knew each other.  The two new members to me were Brad’s two sisters.
I also feel that I kind of lucked out as I was runner # 1 for the team.  It meant I got to start early and be done early.  My leg was a 10.7 mile run from Funspot to just past Gunstock Mountain.  The profile on the website made it look relatively flat with a few rollers.  Based on that printout, I learned that if you stretch out a profile long enough, everything looks flat!  Miles 6-9 were anything but gentle!

Paul, Shannon and Julie picked me up at 6AM Saturday morning for the drive to Funspot to meet the Ayers Family.  It was in the low 50’s and there was not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect running weather.

7 AM at Funspot for the start
Everyone looks happy now.

Because we had 5 women on the team we got to run as a “mixed” team.  If I remember the conversation it was 4 guys/4 girls got you coed, anything less than 4 girls put you in the men’s category.  So how come 5 girls and 3 guys doesn’t put you in the women’s category?  (I’m just saying…….)

We actually got to carry a baton for the whole relay

The race started promptly at 8 AM as a mass start.  79 teams all of varying abilities all started at once.   It was a slight downhill to a right had turn, small rise and then downhill again to the main drag of Weirs Beach.  I really hadn’t had much of a warm up other than jogging around for 6-7 minutes.  I figured with 10.7 miles to run I would have ample time to warm up.
I kept the pace relatively sane at the start.  I hadn’t really run more than 5.5 miles all summer, excepting one 7.5 mile run with Mia about a month ago.  I had no clue how I would feel after 6 or so miles.  I tried to keep it around a 7:30-7:45 pace.
The field quickly spread out.  As is usual, I tend to run at the “fast end of the slow guys”.  I had some people around me doing a comfortable pace and I decided to keep them in sight for as long as possible.
I would honestly say all was going well until about the 6 mile mark.  I’ll refer back to the printout I looked at that made the climb look long, but gentle.  Truth is that it was long and semi-steep with a few stair steps in it.  On my bike it would have been okay, but running up it, it turned into a slow slog.  This is about the point that I realized that I need to run more. I also need to run hills more often.  I feel okay on the flats, but I have this old man shuffle of a run uphill.
I never really fell apart or bonked, but that long slog of a hill (see GPS link at the bottom of this post) really took a bite out of me.
I am really happy to also report that my GPS came in at 10.4 miles not the 10.7 they had listed.  Not that .3 more would have killed me, but it was nice to be done.

Not even 9:30 AM and I am done for the day!

I handed off to Brad’s sister for her 11 mile “jaunt”.  I also got a quick bite to eat, some water and changed into dry clothes.  Now I could spend the rest of the day cheering on teammates and relaxing.

About 7 miles into her 11 mile leg. Doesn't she look happy?

Runner 2 to 3 hand off is in Alton Bay.  A town I don’t ever recall being in, even though I am a life long NH resident.  It was quite pretty with some really  nice cottages and “cottages” if you catch my meaning.
The best part was the swimming access right from the parking lot where the next hand off would occur.  There was a little dock to lounge on and  I took advantage of this and gave my legs a nice little “ice bath” while waiting for our next hand off.

Cooling my feet off in Alton Bay
Brad takes his hand off.

Brad had probably the rudest awakening of any of the legs.  Not even 300 meters into his run there is a right hand turn onto this 20% hill that has to last for a least 1/3 of a mile.  We passed many people walking up this hill, but Brad ran the whole thing!

I missed Brad’s hand off while Paul, Shannon, Julie and I dropped into Wolfeboro for some much needed lunch.  It was probably getting to the hottest part of the day right now too, which luckily was only about 73 degrees.

Julie waiting for her handoff
Doesn't she look happy to be done?

The route to Abenaki Ski Area where Julie took the baton was pretty twisty and narrow.  There was a lot of traffic and non-existent shoulder for Brad’s sister to run on.  Probably one of the more nervous sections of the whole race course.

The next relay station did not allow cars at it,  It was on a private farm.  We had to drive all the way to the runner 7 spot.  Shannon (runner 6) had to take a bus back to her spot at the farm to receive the baton from Julie and then Julie had to take the bus back to the school we were at where Paul (runner 7) would receive from Shannon.  Kind messed up, but it all worked out in the end.

Shannon hands off to Paul

Paul had probably the second hair raising (scary) leg.  He had to run along very busy route 25 towards Meredith.  There is very little shoulder and TONS of traffic.
We boogied on down to the final transition for Trish’s leg.  There is a mandatory 5PM start for all runners at the final transition, no matter where your runner 7 is.  We knew we would be close, we had calculated out that Paul would arrive by 5:12 PM.  Turns out we beat our estimate by 3 minutes.   Paul came in just before 5:09, but about 15 teams were sent off at 5PM because their runners were not in.
I had a blast, we were far from being a fast team, but it was a good group of people to run with.  It’s always fun to do these type of events.  You get to cheer on friends and for me at least it is more relaxed than if I was doing a solo event where I put a lot more pressure on myself to perform.
I  will go back to this one again.  It’s much easier than Reach the Beach as far as planning, logistics, etc goes.  You are done in less than 10 hours and you only have to run once as long as you have an 8 person team.
I need to thank Brad and Trish for driving their car!  Plus Brad’s parents for the gatorade!

Team Photo

GPS info for my leg.

Thanks for reading.


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