‘Run Like the Wind’: Teams conclude 198-mile race in Gondola Square
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Shortly after noon, Karina Ernest ran past the finish line in Gondola Square. Ernest was one of 12 runners on one of 43 teams competing in the Wild West Relay from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs.
“This is, a majority of us, our fifth time. We used to do it in high school, high school cross country, and we loved it so much. We still get the gang together and coax some out-of-staters to come do it with us,” Ernest said.
Ernest, 25, ran the final stretch of the 36-leg relay that stretched 198 miles through Northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Her team, “That’s not my Baby!” were the first mixed relay team to cross the line.
“I think half our team was thinking we were a little crazy for doing this, our newcomers,” Ernest said. “But now they’re hooked. They were confused why we wanted to do it, but they were in, which I respect and appreciate.”
Peter Swank, 33, was a newcomer and had a similar mindset. He and his team, “Run Like the Wind” of Schneider Electric had never competed in the Wild West Relay before.
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He was convinced by his vice president of marketing along with 11 other people from the company’s Boulder office.
“I think our team, what I love about our office, our team who wasn’t participating was completely engaged with us. From decorating our vans to live tweeting and sending everything out,” Swank said. “It was super cool, and I think they’re just proud of what we’re doing and how we engage as a company.”
Swank said he and many of his teammates were generally unfamiliar with the section of Colorado the course brought them through, and he enjoyed seeing that part of the state.
The team was the first corporate team to cross the finish, with Sierra Method’s team, “One Earth Future,” finished around 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
The 28-year-old from Superior said it was the first time competing in the relay for everyone in her group, which featured just a couple avid runners, including herself.
“It was a lot of sweat,” Method said. “Not a lot of sleep, but I think everyone had a lot of fun. … We were two hours ahead of our expected time, so we did a lot better than we expected and got second place in corporate.”
Race Director Paul Vanderheiden, who has been putting on the relay for 16 years, said everything ran smoothly this time around, and the weather couldn’t have been much better since there were no storms or excessive heat.
As the teams gathered at tables in Gondola Square, congratulating teammates and strangers over catered food and free beer, the spirit of the relay race manifested.
“They enjoy the camaraderie that a relay team enables as opposed to if you’re just running a race, you’re running by yourself,” Vanderheiden said. “You might be running with other people, but this has a team concept to it, so it’s a different kind of dynamic.”
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