The Reno Tahoe Odyssey, or “RTO” as it has become to be known around the area, is a relay race that begins in the heart of downtown Reno, traverses the hills up through Verdi and Truckee, to the West Shore of Tahoe, back down through Genoa and Carson City, continues up to Virginia City and culminates back in Reno at Idlewild Park. It consists mainly of 12 person teams, but can be as small as 1 (in 2014, “Army of Juan” completed the course for the first time solo!) in an attempt to travel the 178 miles in less than 33 hours. Most teams consist of 12 individuals who each run 3 legs of the relay race. Each team member runs approximately 15 miles during the day and half of sheer agony, beginning Friday morning at 7 am and concluding no later than 4pm on Saturday afternoon.
This year will be my first attempt at this adventure. I am writing this portion of my blog prior to running as I begin my legs in about 3 ½ hours. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have been training for about 3 weeks as I was a late addition to my team. I feel completely under-prepared as I am the unfortunate one to draw the hardest ranked set of legs – 7, 19, and 31. I’m still not really sure what to expect. I am having a hard time grasping the team aspect of the race, and am mainly worried about how fast my individual splits will be. I wonder how my Outlook will change over the next two days…
What an amazing, terrible, agonizing, wonderful event. Sleep deprivation, burning legs, and the inability to breathe makes you question your sanity…until you see your team standing at the next exchange point. As soon as you make the handoff you beam with confidence and accomplishment at the task that you have completed. Even though I could barely stand, it was one of the greatest events of my life.
My personal goals are immediately set aside as I found myself running purely for the rest of my team. While running, or even those walking, constant applause and encouragement came from every angle as other runners, support vans, and patrons alike cheer you on as you make your way through this daunting event. I can surely say that it has changed my life. The camaraderie of the race restored my faith in humanity as 3,000 runners came together to accomplish a common goal. I can’t imagine not being a part of this event for the rest of my life.
A huge thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who help put this event on. Only 51 weeks left until next year…time to start training!