- Road Race
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay was a very well organized and fun event for my first experience running a relay race. The race website and prerace emails were both super informative and included all of the information the teams needed to prepare for the event. The individual leg maps with turn by turn instructions were clutch for our team getting from checkpoint to checkpoint. Especially since cell service was spotty at locations when we were trying to use GPS. In hindsight, I would highly recommend downloading the maps ahead of time so they are available on your mapping app of choice for those situations when/if you lose service. The only improvement I would recommend to the race organizers for the turn by turn directions provided on the website is to include distances between turns.
Race management also went all out with the swag. Our swag bags at the start were packed with lots of great running gear and other useful items. We all got a long sleeve shirt, a Nathan flashing wearable safety light for night running, a $10 Sheetz gift card, Honey Stinger waffles, Honey Stinger gels, GU Hoppy Trails gel, body glide, Balega socks, and Nuun tabs. It was quite a haul!
All of the course that I saw was beautiful and completely runnable. My only gripe about the course at all is that two of the four legs I ran were after dark so I wasn’t able to enjoy the sights. From the views I got during daylight, I can only imagine what sights I missed out on during the night time hours. I realize that with a 150 mile course running portions in the dark is unavoidable so I’m not complaining about it. I enjoy night runs through the woods with only a headlamp to light my way, but it is a trade off for missing out on the daylight views. Regardless, I still enjoyed the course and having a bit of time between legs to check out the sights at the exchange stations along the way. One of the exchange station highlights was the train museum that had a full miniature train set on display.
Support at the exchange points provided by the race organizers was good throughout and seemed to improve as a greater distance was covered. The Domino's pizza over night was a real treat. The Panera bagels and coffee in the morning was also much appreciated. The other bonuses like the photo booth at Boston (exchange station #20) was also a nice surprise.
The finish line celebration was also very well done. With the finish line celebratory music (yeah Linkin Park!) well within earshot, our final runner came into view. When she reached us we all got our legs to move again and ran across the finish line as a team. The announcer was quite the hype man and got every team pumped as they crossed the finish line calling out their team name. After receiving our hefty finisher medals and getting some finish line photos, we made our way over to the conveniently located after party at the Hofbrauhaus. With the beautiful South Shore Riverfront Park in view from our seating area, we were served large soft dough pretzels with cheese dipping sauce and our choice of biers: lager, hefe weizen, or dunkel. On top of it all, there was a bottomless pierogi buffet that our table ate our share of.
Read my full race report at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2019/10/2019-gap-trail-relay-initial-impressions.html