Charlotte Running Club Men win 2018 Blue Ridge Relay!

October 01, 2018 6:00 AM | Mike Beigay

We would like to congratulate all those that participated in this years Blue Ridge Relay.  For a complete list of results check the BRR website from the link below:

2018 BRR Results

Congratulations to the Charlotte Running Club Men for bringing home the overall win for the 2nd time in three years!  Below is a recap to how their race transpired.

CRC Men's Team (LtoR):  Ben Hovis (driver), Mike Mitchell, Bert Rodriguez, Jessie McEntire, Walt Guyer, Andrea Gargamelli, Chad Crockford, Dylan Lowry, Chris Capps, James Perez, Cody Hodgins, Chris Raulli, Dan Matena and Mike Beigay (driver)

The CRC Men's team have traditionally enjoyed the last start time on Friday at 1:30 pm along with their nemesis, the Asheville Running Collective.  This allows the team to sleep in their own beds Thursday night and travel to the start Friday morning.

The lead up to the Friday departure is somewhat nerve-racking to the team captains who are making sure all the final logistics are taken care of; van rentals, meet up location, running order, misc supplies, etc.  Leaving Friday morning does not allow for very much wiggle room to the planned schedule.  Unfortunately the team would not get out of Charlotte without a significant challenge this year.

One of the team captains, Dan Matena, had organized the van rentals through Enterprise whom we've used for the past several years.  Dan made a point to stop by the rental location on the day prior to the departure to ensure the vans would be available for pickup the next morning.  Dan was reassured that the two vans would be available the next morning. 

Friday morning, joined by fellow captains Mike Mitchell and Ben Hovis, Dan received a phone call just after 6:30 am from Enterprise explaining that the two vans scheduled to be available for pickup had both been "damaged" during transit.  No alternatives were offered by Enterprise which was extremely disappointing considering they are a sponsor of the BRR.  Mike Mitchell quickly reached out to Avis at the CLT Douglas Airport.  They just happened to have (2) 15-passenger vans available, but their cost was nearly $1,000 more than the agreement with Enterprise.  With no other options, the team was forced to pickup the vans through Avis and were able to successfully make the trip to the start line on time.

Rotation #1 (Leg 1 - 12)

The race started on time at 1:30 pm with Bert Rodriguez leading the way. CRC got out to a quick 30-sec lead which soon evaporated after leg #2.  Over the next several legs ARC continue to grow their lead to over 3-minutes.  The heat of the afternoon, as the teams approached West Jefferson, was some of the warmest temperatures experienced in the races' 13 year history.  Even with the deficit continuing to grow, CRC men were still running strong and running very close to their predicted time.  At the end of leg 12, CRC fought back to cut the ARC lead to 2min50sec.  One thing this race teaches you is that it is never over until it is over!

(photo above:  Jesse McEntire and Dylan Lowry cooling off in a creek after Leg #3)

Rotation #2 (Leg 13 - 24)

The second rotation for the teams began in Blowing Rock just after sunset.  It was at this point in the race that adversity struck the ARC team.  ARC Leg #1 runner appeared to aggravate an injury to his foot during his first run.  As often is the case with BRR, runners exert themselves to a point in which they are not able to recover.  That is one of the toughest challenges of this race to explain to first time participants.  While runners need to push themselves each leg, they also need to ensure they have what it takes to run-recover-run-recover and run again!  Everyone is different in how they hydrate, stretch, re-fuel and prepare themselves for another hard run.

When a runner is not able to continue, everyone moves up one position.  This resulted in ARC runner #2 & #3 needing to run 4 different legs instead of 3.  More importantly this has a profound affect on mixing up the intended order in which runners are strategically placed.  

This provided some hope to CRC to be able to take advantage of ARC's misfortune with some favorable matchup's on some tough upcoming legs...or so we thought!  Even with the change to their line up, ARC was able to extend their lead to nearly 6-minutes!  Even still, those on the team experienced in this race continued to encourage one another as ANYTHING is possible!

Rotation #3 (Leg 25 - 36)

Heading into the last rotation it was time for each runner to lay it all on the line!  There was no need to hold back now.  Leg #25 saw Bert Rodriguez up against ARC’s best runner, Ethan Coffey, who still had a 4th leg to run.  After leg #25 the deficit remained just over 6-min.  Leg #26 saw first time CRC runner Dylan Lowery up for his last leg.  He ran his best effort of the race and was able to pull back some time to get the ARC lead just under 6-min…it was just after 3:45am. 

Next up was veteran CRC runner Jesse McEntire who had the toughest leg rotation of them all with just under 25 total miles.  Leg #27 was a long, grinding 9 mile leg.  Halfway through the leg, reports were that Jesse was rolling and was close to pulling back nearly 3-min of the 6-min deficit!  As Jesse crossed the line, the ARC lead was indeed reduced to around 3min20sec.  Leg #28 saw another veteran, Walt Guyer, up against one of the rookies for ARC, Tanner Cook.  Within 2 miles of the finish, Walt erased the deficit and CRC reclaimed the lead since leg number 1!  The wave of excitement through the CRC team gave the remaining runners a surge of adrenaline which they clearly put to use.

Next up was Chris Capps with Leg #29 who continued to stretch the CRC lead.  Capps rolled the 6 mile downhill leg and handed off to Chad Crockford for Leg #30 with the advantage just under 3-min!  Chad also rolled a strong 4 mile route and handed off to Dan Matena for the infamous Mtn Goat leg.  Dan who has run the Mtn Goat leg several times prior was able to put an additional minute on the CRC lead as he handed off to James Perez…the lead was now 3min20sec.  It is extremely difficult to isolate one performance that made a difference in the race but the 9 mile downhill performance by Mr. Perez was special!  The previous CRC record for Leg #32 was 47:19 by Bob Marchinko (2011).  James clocked a time of 46:25 (5:04 pace!) which extended the lead to 9min38sec!!! 

Leg #33 by Chris Raulli and Leg #34 by Mike Mitchell saw ARC pull 1-min off the CRC lead.  By this point, something catastrophic would need to occur to the CRC team for ARC to have a chance.  Yet again ARC had a runner that could not continue which resulted in yet another shuffle of their runners.  Leg #35 for CRC was Cody Hodgins while ARC saw Ethan Coffey take on his 4th leg.  As the final CRC hand off from Cody to Andrea Gargamelli for Leg #36, the lead was nearly 9-min.  The “Glory” leg into Asheville secured the win for CRC!

Final hand off to start Leg 36; Cody Hodgins to Andrea Gargamelli

The win for CRC was the 2nd in 3 years and 3rd Overall Title at BRR.  The rivalry between CRC and ARC remains extremely friendly and pushes each team to do their best each year.  Since 2006, teams from Charlotte (Team Mizuno, TrySports and CRC), and Asheville (Norms Maggots and ARC) have finished in the top 3 overall positions.  We look forward to the Winter Classic 8k where the two teams will square up once again to battle for “The Belt.”


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