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NH Reach the Beach Relay Race Report by My Wife Erin

Reach the Beach NH

Let me begin by saying I don’t race. I hate racing and always have. For one, I don’t have a competitive bone in my body (except when playing backgammon, or any game for that matter, with my husband). I just don’t thrive on the stress and anticipation of race day. The jittery feeling, instead of charging me up, fills me with unpleasant anxiety. And as I see it, why subject myself to something that causes me unnecessary suffering when I get so much joy from running in my typical Zen-like fashion. I don’t need to prove to myself that I can run faster or farther. I run to relieve stress and recharge my batteries, to be outside and blissfully alone, and to stay fit, healthy and happy. Racing brings me none of that.

So, when a few months ago I somehow got roped into doing Reach the Beach, a 208-mile relay run from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach (NH), I was more than a little nervous and a lot skeptical. I had never run more than 7 miles before (most of my runs this summer averaged 4 to 5 miles or less) and my total mileage for the race would be 12.7 (which was, I am ashamed to say, the shortest of my relay group). This meant I had to train! As in run a lot more miles in a short period of time. So, here is my other thing about running. While I love it, I get really bored after 5 miles or so and am ready to be done. The idea of running for more than an hour makes me antsy.

The other big fear I had about the race was the sleep deprivation. We would start from the mountain at 8:45AM on a Friday and not reach the beach until around 4:45 the following Saturday afternoon. I can go all day like the Energizer bunny (my best friend jokes that I have hyperactivity disorder without the attention deficit component), as long as I get a good night’s sleep. I do not function well without sleep! How was I going to run over half my miles after a sleepless night, my body already aching from the day’s previous run? What had I gotten myself into?

Erin RTB 2

Erin RTB

Well, after weeks of tormenting anticipation (ahem, see the first paragraph), race weekend finally came and went. The event was at once a little, and not at all, what I expected. This wasn’t a race about racing. It wasn’t about running fast to catch up to the guy (or cow…don’t ask) in front of you. It wasn’t about time at all, or winning (unless you were the crazy ultra runner dudes that blew us all away). It was about teamwork and camaraderie. It was about having fun. It was about enduring pain, hunger and sleeplessness together with a group of fabulous people. Don’t get me wrong, it was damn hard! That first “moderate” leg was actually 5.1 miles straight up! And that “easy” 4AM run was the longest 3.5 miles I have ever run. My van-stiffened, exhausted body protested every single step. As for my last 4.1 mile leg, I can’t say I remember much of it, just that I knew I had to complete it or the onus would fall on my like-wise depleted teammates.

Erin RTB Finish

This race was about challenging myself to do something out of my comfort zone and building lasting memories and relationships in the process. Would I do it again? Had I asked myself this in the wee hours that Saturday morning, the answer would have been “Hell No!” With a few weeks passed, however, the answer is now “HELL YES!” I’ve got a cow to catch!

Erin RTB Finish 2

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Wilt Alston says:

    My Ragnar team–or more accurately, a portion of my Ragnar team–did this race too. We did it as an ultra, 6-member, team, and really, really enjoyed it. (Well, our enjoyment, rather like yours, was more AFTER we finished all the killer uphills and downhills!) Glad you had a good time. After 5 Ragnar Relays, plus this one, one could say I’m hooked. Kudos to the organizers, although none of us liked running with traffic so much. That said, this one is on our list of “yearly options” going forward.

  2. John Parker says:

    Nice work!!

    I have done a couple of these endurance relays and find them nothing like races. it is all about the group dynamic, especially when everyone in the van is stinky and a little slap happy due to lack of sleep.

    My favorite memory: running the trail on the Toronto waterfront at midnight

  3. Way to go, Erin!

  4. Reach the Beach 2015 was my third Ragnar event. I have also done many other events(mostly triathlons). I did Cape Cod and Adirondacks Ragnar in 2014 and they were a blast. They were well organized and fun. Reach the beach, however was a huge dissapointment. Other races left me telling stories about all the funny things that we saw and did, but this one left me with stories of this miserable woman Nina, the organizer, making things difficult and being on a powertrip. The race was very poorly organized and if you are looking for a fun team relay you should consider a different one.

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