Two hundred miles is a long way to travel. And it’s an incredibly long way to run. But that’s exactly what a group of Messiah College employees and community members did earlier this spring.
Tim Ferret (residence director of Smith and Grantham residence halls) and his wife Annie (who works at Soccer Shots, a company owned by Messiah alumni); Ben Taylor (director of student involvement and leadership programs) and his wife Kerrie (Agape Center); Amy VanDerWerf (director of residence life); Aletheia Schmidt (former residence director of Hess and Kelly residence halls); Dave Downey (residence director of Mountain View residence hall) and his wife Emily; Jay McClymont (director of alumni and parent relations); Mandy Hoffman (residence director of Witmer residence hall); Robin Tilley and Zack Kraehmer (both of Soccer Shots); and Geoff Knight competed in the American Odyssey Relay Race as a part of team Lover of Our Soles.
The annual American Odyssey Relay Race kicks off in the early morning hours from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and winds its way south to the finish in Washington, D.C. Each team member runs several 4-8-mile legs during the 200-mile race, which can last up to 36 hours.
Members of Lover of Our Soles started training for the 2012 American Odyssey Relay Race in early January.
“Many team members would do their training runs together. If team members were not running together, we were emailing each other to see how the training was going so that everyone’s spirits would be high,” says Dave Downey.
Most team members ran four to five times per week to prepare for the 14-21 total personal miles that would be ran during the actual race. About two months before the race, the team ran a 5K together to develop a game plan for the race. The team then decided which runner would run each leg. During the final weeks leading up to the race, several team members began running several times per day to prepare to run just hours apart.
Team Lover of Our Soles rented two SUVs and followed their running teammates along their strenuous journey. Celisse Randolph (now former residence director of Sollenberger and Mellinger residence halls), Mandy Hoffman (residence director of Witmer residence hall), and Katie Rousopoulos (residence director of Bittner residence hall) manned the SUVs throughout the race, and provided support and encouragement to the runners. Kris Hansen-Keiffer, dean of students and supervisor to many members of Lover of Our Soles, even ran a leg of the race with Amy VanDerWerf, director of residence life.
“Our three volunteers were incredible,” says Annie Ferret, coach and team member of Lover of Our Soles. “We truly could not have done it without their encouraging signage, words, and sleepless driving from point to point over the 29 hours. They were just as much a part of our team as the 12 runners.”
When asked about the toughest part of the race, Ferret explained, “The hardest part was running on no sleep and having to cram running muscles back into a tight vehicle after every run.”
Jay McClymont, director of alumni and parent relations, enjoyed the “intense bonding, great conversation and encouragement” that took place among the team members.
“Being able to do this with a team made it so much more fun and meaningful. Normally, running is an individual thing…but being involved in a race with a team made it more fun and meaningful,” explained Downey.
Lover of Our Soles completed the race with a time of 29 hours and 48 minutes, finishing 79th out of a field of 127 competitors.
“Finishing the final quarter mile together in D.C. and running over the finish lines with our arms raised was a great feeling and sense of accomplishment,” said Ferret.
Ferret also explained that the team is already registered for next year.
“We might even need a second team because so many others around us are intrigued and want in on the adventure!”
By Ethan Eshbach `14.