Paige Sato writes:
It was with great anticipation and a bit of trepidation that I accepted an invitation to participate with a team for Reach the Beach, NJ, October 12-13.
The race started in Vernon, NJ, and ended in Seaside Heights. The team, The Dirty Harriers, was captained by my friend’s husband, Tommy Lee of Montclair, and consisted of 11 men and me. All these men are long-time runners and so much faster than I am–they run consistently in the 5:15-7:30 m/m pace range. I’m not there…yet (ever?).
What I lack in speed, I make up for in enthusiasm. And baking; I made dozens and dozens of cookies just in case.
There were only 40 teams registered in this inaugural year, but the support and organization was unbelievable. Our team (#1, btw, as our captain is quick to pull the trigger on registering) started at 11:00am. I was in van 2, running legs 8 (3.4 miles), 20 (3.77 miles) and 32 (5.76 miles). Kindly, in his spreadsheet, the team captain pegged me for a 9:30 min/mile pace, which I was fine with.
The day started clear, but it was sprinkling by the time we reach Vernon. Then the clouds dissipated, but the winds kicked up, and the temps started to drop. My first leg was at 3:30ish (we were already ahead of our estimated schedule at this point). I ran my 3.4 miles in 30:44 (8:54 pace).
My second leg started at just about 1am. Let me tell you, rural New Jersey is DARK at night, but the winds had let up, and the temps, while chilly, hadn’t dropped to the frost level that was to come just slightly later on in the night. I was slower this leg–primarily due to unfamiliarity with night-time running and overall tiredness. I ran my 3.77 miles at a 9:34 pace in 35:21.
Our van’s 3rd legs started around 9:15 in the morning. The runner preceding me was not feeling well (a bit of asthma), and asked that the van check with him at his two mile mark (into a 5 mile leg). When he reached us, he indicated he needed to stop, so I jumped in to finish his leg (3.07 miles in 27:41, an 8:59 pace). When I got to the transition area, I was unclear if I needed to run my real leg (5.76 miles) or not, but the team decided that everyone would shift down a leg, and that our first runner would then pick up the last leg.
We dropped off our last runner at the transition spot and then made our way to Seaside Heights. The race finished on the boardwalk, and led the runner down a boardwalk ramp to the sand. We all ran down the ramp and across the sand and finish line together! Oh, and then we had our obligatory beer (or two or three).
The preliminary results: we finished in 25:50:53 with a 7:48 pace. We were 7th overall and first in our age group. Which isn’t saying much because I think we were actually the only 40+ age group.
Although there were only 40 teams, I hope the Reach the Beach people decide to continue this race. It was so well organized, very well marked, and the volunteers were amazing. Western New Jersey is so beautiful, and it was great to experience it on foot. I encourage anyone else thinking of doing this type of race to consider this event. My 11 teammates travel around the country doing these events (Ragnar’s, RTB, R2C, etc), and they all thought the RTB crew puts together top notch events.