Bakemasters did it! We ran our marathon, the one we’ve been training for since May. The one we ran two practice events for – the ekiden. An ekiden is a relay marathon. The concept started in Japan. Basically, you break a marathon into pieces and run it as a team. The Brussels Ekiden breaks it down into 6 pieces: three 5ks, two 10ks, and a 7.129k. It starts with a 5, then a 10, then a 5, then a 10, then a 5, and finishes with the 7. It makes it much more doable, but it also builds camaraderie and team spirit. And hey, you can say you ran a marathon!  None of us had ever done that before. We knew we had to try. =)

But as you know marathons take preparation. And relay marathons even more so, because for relay marathons you have a team. You need snacks, t-shirts, a plan. Ok, not really but we had fun putting them together. One of the gang came up with the awesome logo, another a fun slogan, and I put them all together – printing out iron-ons and delivering them around the city. T-shirt done!

Next, we needed snacks. Our injured teammate was the best spectator ever. She came and cheered, even though it rained. She made us sandwiches and brought us candy – doesn’t get much better than that =) I took care of the less fun snack – the immediate recovery food. Did anybody else play soccer as a kid? Do you remember half-time? Oranges? I do. I remember eating them, cutting them, doing the funky orange peel smile with them. It’s a fun memory so I thought I’d recreate it. Plus it’s a great quick sugar recovery food/liquid to have right after your segment of the run.

That was a 5kilo bag… oops. Yeah, we had oranges for the next week. Anyway, back to the run. Each segment started and ended at the stadium. The track inside provided the hand off space and the stands, a nice dry place to cheer and wait for your turn.

The dry place was key. Because shortly after the first person took off, the sky opened up and the temperature seemed to plummet. The second leg teammate got the worst of it, but I think we all got wet. Still we had fun… and we finished! 1210 teams entered the event. Some of them were amazing. The winner finished in just over 2 hours. We took a bit longer… ok, maybe a lot longer. We finished in 4:51:16, and I’m proud of it!

I ran the last leg. By that time a lot of the other teams had finished, some had long since finished. I went to take my place in the hand off zone. I looked around and realised there were only 5 other teams left! One by one their teammates came in and they took off. I watched and cheered as the last member of the church team that I’d been coaching entered the stadium to do his finishing lap. Eventually, it was just me and this one other girl. I started to worry that they’d shut the course down before I even got started. Then the DJ stopped playing and I really got worried. A couple minutes later a race organiser came over to the hand off area, checked to make sure we were still waiting to run, and assured us that we would have as much time as needed. He got the music turned back on. Yay race organiser!!

Shortly after the other girl’s teammate entered the stadium and as they say, “the cheese stands alone”. I stood there with Hubby (he’d come to cheer – he’s an awesome spectator) and I thought of this amazing blog entry I’d read a few days earlier about a girl who came in dead last in her first ever triathlon. She had such a great attitude as she learned the meaning of last>DNF>DNS (finishing last is better than not finishing, which is better than not starting). I told myself to enjoy it and truth be told, I really did. There’s something quite special about being last. As people left the stadium and headed for home, they cheered me on as I started on a course all to myself.

A few minutes later I caught up to the other girl. We spent the rest of the course never more than 50 meters apart. We had a police and EMT escort cheering for us on as we went. The race volunteers were great too. Even though they’d been standing in the rain for almost 5 hours, they made a huge fuss and encouraged us on. A 12 piece drum band played just for us as we passed the Atomium (left over from the World’s Fair).

Wielrenners passeren het Atomium/Racing cyclis…

(Photo credit: Nationaal Archief)

With the last hill behind me, I finally re-entered the stadium. It was empty… well, almost =p There by the entrance were Hubby and my team, jumping and cheering! We ran the last lap together, crossed the finish line, and then went back to finish the last 100m with that other girl, my race mate. It wasn’t quite how I imagined it, but I couldn’t be prouder of both my teams. Go Bakemasters (and go CCB-est!)

And the best bit? It seems we’ve all caught the running bug =) On to the next race!

Have you ever done a relay event? What’s your next fitness challenge? Leave a comment and start the conversation!

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