For the second year in a row, Ralph Hirt organized a local team consisting of 10 runners from Del Norte and two from Brookings for the second annual Wild Rouge Relay on June 20andndash;21.
Hirt's team, the Crabby Crew, improved in its second attempt at the grueling 214-mile course through the Cascade Mountains starting near Applegate Lake and ending at the Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach.
The Crabby Crew shaved over an hour off of its 2013 time of 33:28 with an unofficial time of 32:08. Hirt thought some of that was due to the improved weather for the event this year.
"On the whole, the course was about 10 degrees cooler, which made for better running conditions," Hirt said.
The Crabby Crew also had a big improvement in placement, finishing 19th overall out of 58 teams. In 2013 the team took 27th out of 31 teams.
The race is broken up into 36 legs with each leg spanning between four and eight miles. Each runner runs three legs throughout the course.
"The toughest part of running is the sleep deprivation because you are pretty much awake the entire time," Hirt said. "We managed to catch a couple hours of sleep early on Saturday morning, but we were sitting in a van with four people."
Although the Crabby Crew improved by over an hour from its 2013 time, the team was still about an hour and a half away from its estimated time heading into the event, Hirt said.
"No matter how much I talk to runners that join us, they tend to estimate a quicker time for themselves," Hirt said. "They don't account for the steepness of the terrain and the fatigue factor from not sleeping for 24 hours. People just tend to run slower."
Hirt did say that team members who ran the relay last year did seem to have a more realistic estimate for themselves than many of the newcomers.
The Crabby Crew returned five runners from the 2013 squad, including Hirt, Linda Blundell, Kevin Baxter, Nan Latimer and Josh Norris.
Newcomers included Sheldon Thuemler, Seth Castagnola, Michael Glore, Mike Castagnola and Scott Lindsay - all from Del Norte - along with Roy Wassbacher and Dan Brattain of Brookings.
Clay Speaker of Crescent City and Art Kurger from Jacksonville, Ore., were also along as volunteers.
When the Crabby Crew finally reached the Curry County Fairgrounds after more than an entire day of running, the team was greeted with a party.
"It was a nice venue," Hirt said. "They have music there and food and beer for the runners."
Even after more than 30 hours of running, the teams' excitement for next year already started creeping up as the team unwound in Gold Beach.
"We will probably do it again next year," Hirt said. "There seems to be a lot of interest. Being the oldest and by far the slowest of all of our runners, I tried to bow out gracefully in Gold Beach, but I was met with huge resistance. I guess as long as the other runners are willing to carry me, I should be willing to go out there and run with them."
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .