Reach the Beach Relay, NH
Sep 17-18, 2004
Originally published in The Tuck Times, Sep 2004
“You’re a runner right?” Jon Marr asked me after class last Wednesday. “We’re looking for someone to join our team last minute.” He was armed and ready with the pitch, which he filled with references to wearing funny costumes, drinking beer, and in general the high fun factor involved. I agreed almost without thinking – it was that good a sales job.
So that’s how I found myself in a van heading to northern New Hampshire on an early Friday morning for the 6th annual Reach the Beach running relay race. Over the summer, team organizer Jon had diligently recruited a team of 12 to take on the challenge of the 24-hour, 210 mile race. Our team was entered in the “Mixed Open” category with six guys and six girls, composed of mostly in-shape Tuck students.
The race started near Mt. Washington at the Bretton Woods ski area and followed mostly paved roads all the way to Hampton Beach in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire. The 210 miles were divided into 36 legs of varying distance and difficulty, ranging from 5-mile, mostly flat “easy” legs to gut-busting, 8-mile “extremely hard” legs through cavalcades of steep hills. Each runner on our team had to complete three legs, for a total mileage of between 15 to 20 miles per runner.
Jon was our lead-off runner, and everyone else on the team was thankful. The first leg began at the Bretton Woods ski area and basically went straight up the mountain. The course guide described this leg as “the toughest 5K you will ever run.” Jon did it in 22 minutes, and suddenly our team “What the Tuck” was in third place in our heat.
The wristband “baton” passed to Adam Von Reyn who kept up the pace on a scenic highway surrounded by the already changing colors of the High Peaks of the White Mountains. The baton continued on, next to Tim Grein who had to battle a brutal downhill in Crawford Notch, then on to Meryl Marr, next to Scott Bogard who had to battle a brutal summer in investment banking, then on to Dori Aleksandrowicz, and finally on to me. All I remember from my first leg was a guy with zero ounces of body fat and in those really short running shorts blowing by me, saying “Reach the beach man.”
Nina Kemppel picked it up a notch and cranked through a brutally hilly, 8.8 mile leg, one of the hardest legs on the course. Note to self: it’s always good to have a Nina in there to keep things moving along.
Next up was Dave Smith, who used his patented “locomotive” uphill technique to grim it up a major hill, in the process passing Beth Jackson (who was on the Timberland team) and securing Tuck’s pride.
Dave Smith on his runner's high
In one of the only romantic moments of the race, Dave lovingly passed the baton on to his wife Ruth, who motored up another huge hill as we all rooted her on. Then Rebeccah Anderson stepped up to the plate for what the map said was a flat stage but turned into a tumultuous up-and-down. We all agreed that the cartographer should be shot. Running clean-up was Paige Johnson, who was the first of us to run in complete darkness.
Before Paige passed the baton back to Jon to run through the order all over again, thirteenth runner Hurricane Ivan decided to join the team. Just as most of you were finishing up Tucktails and getting ready to head out to Murphy’s, Jon set out into the night in a torrential downpour. The raging storm didn’t let up for a minute all night; every one of us in turn got soaked to the bone. The team lowlight of the night occurred when Scott Bogard realized he’d lost his shoe about 15 miles back – luckily he found it and we didn’t make him run barefoot.
Dawn broke and guess what, we were still running, and it was still raining torrentially. On the last rotation, 11 of us again got soaked in Ivan’s final furies. However, the rain eerily ceased as Paige, our last runner, brought it home on a final 5-mile leg and Reached the Beach. Officially, we finished in 29 ˝ hours, placing in the middle of the pack. Most importantly, we placed slightly ahead of Beth’s Timberland team.
Paige bringing it home
So to you first years, we fully expect you to continue this Tuck legacy next year. It’s a great race, full of costumes, beer, and plenty of sunshine.
Soaked to the bone after 29 ˝ hours of running
L to R, back row: Scott Kendall, Adam Von Reyn, Tim Grein,Dave Smith, Ruth Smith, paige Johnson
Front row: Meryl Marr, Dori Aleksandrowicz, Jon Marr, Nina Kemppel, Rebeccah Anderson, Scott Bogard
Official Reach the Beach website