A week ago Thursday, a group of Island runners headed off Island to participate in the Ragnar Cape Cod Relay, a 193-mile relay race from Hull to Provincetown. The race is a two-day event (including running overnight) with a motto of “Run, Drive. Sleep? Repeat.” Each participating team was required to come up with their own theme, and the Vineyarders, fittingly, settled on Jaws, calling themselves the Amity Island Running Club. The team included Amanda Hollyfield, Megan McDonald, Kara Shemeth, Darren Belisle, Nedine Cunningham, Channon Capra, and myself, Adam Darack.
The journey began when we strapped a 7-foot-long wooden, duct-tape-coated shark fin to the top of a van in the Falmouth Walmart parking lot, a masterpiece made by friends of friends Pati and Chad Nelson. We received looks usually reserved for stray mopeds driving the wrong way down streets here in the summer, but shook them off with a laugh.
After a night in a couple hotel rooms in Middleborough, we drove to Hull for the start of the race. Amanda started us off at 8:15 Friday morning and soon afterwards, we drove our van to where she would finish and hand a bracelet off to Nedine, fresh off completing the Boston Marathon, to start her first leg of the race. As time in the van increased, personalities really started coming out. While most of the runners knew each other fairly well, some of us hadn’t spent much time together, nevermind from a Thursday to a Sunday trip in such close proximity you could hear someone snort. Music started blasting, jokes starting flying, and our weekend quickly became quite honestly epic.
When Megan, Darren, and Kara completed their first of three relay legs, I decided to finish up this round while wearing a cardboard shark head around my head and torso, taped to different parts of myself while I ran the most uncomfortable 4.2 miles of my life.
After we all ran our first legs of the trip, another van with runners from central New York, whom we had previously agreed to team up with, took over for the next six hours. They ran like the wind while we attempted to rest in the van, or in a field, at the Gallo Ice Arena in Buzzards Bay. Sleep was tough to come by and before we knew it Amanda was off and running again as the sun set over the Cape Cod Canal. Channon, who volunteered to drive the entire journey, took us to the next meeting spot. Without Channon’s driving, we would have been alternating running and driving instead of getting much needed rest.
We all ran these night legs of the race wearing headlamps, reflective vests, and a blinking light on our backs. The anticipation of the night running freaked me out. I’d never run at night and had a bad feeling I would get lost and end up knocking on a random door at 1 am to ask for directions, prompting a panicked homeowner’s 911 call. Our Amity Island Running Club members gave me reports of their runs as they finished and for the most part, they loved it. My portion was 5.7 miles and started around 11 pm in the Craigville Beach area. After almost getting lost a mile in, I calmed down and enjoyed it, even when slaloming around roadkill at one point. Afterwards, we drove to a school parking lot designated for Ragnar Relay vans and yet again attempted to get a few hours of sleep.
Our last legs of the trip were a bit sad, as the event was nearing its end. Amanda and Nedine were unfazed by their lack of sleep and completed their runs looking like they could go out and run it all over again.
Our team finished 150th out of nearly 350 in our category, completing the 193 miles in 29:08:28. I promise you, though, there was no team that got along better or laughed harder than our Amity Island Running Club. In the end, hours are hours, pace times are pace times, but ‘80s music blasting in a van, laughter, friendship, and amazing memories are timeless.