In the realm of long-distance endurance races, the novelty of the Illinois River to River Relay is difficult to top. Each year, over 300 teams of eight apply for 250 spots and the opportunity to race 80 miles across the southern tip of Illinois from the Mississippi to Ohio Rivers. With nine major divisions and a dozen special divisions (including corporate, club, military, etc.), the event draws a diverse field of 2000 experienced, intermediate, and novice runners from across the country.
On race day, the teams gather at 6:15 a.m. on McGee Hill near Wolf Lake. The first leg begins in thirty-minute waves. Each runner will complete three legs consisting of distances between 2.5 and 4 miles. The rolling course includes paved and unpaved roads, through rural areas, small towns, and Shawnee National Forest, finishing on the banks of the Ohio River in Golconda. In between legs, many runners must pull double-duty by transporting teammates to and from the exchange areas. (Speaking of "double-duty", rumour is that Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s pit crew has nothing on Marcy Ambler when it comes to changing a flat.)
This year, the SEMO area is represented by three quality teams. The "Has Beens" compete in the challenging Open Division. The collection of former collegiate teammates and friends bring home an impressive second place overall award finishing just minutes off the winning pace with a time of 7 hours, 35 minutes and 25 seconds.
|The Has Beens featuring Danny Stults, Chad Sierman, Mark McNamara, Adam Shupe, Brandon Karcher, |
and Jared Tanz. (Photo from Danny Stults)
The Missouri Running Company Masters, running in the Masters Division, also claim a second place spot. The men finish with a time of 9 hours, 22 minutes, and 3 seconds. The Cape Road Runners Womens Team also turns in a solid performance. Their 10 hour, 49 minute, 32 second time places them in the middle of the overall pack and fourth in the Womens Division.
|Missouri Running Company Masters: Ron Rosati, Bill Kutz, Doug Ambler, Gene Magnus,|
Joe Windeknecht, Steve Schmittzee, Dwayne Hadler, and Glen Williams. (Photo from Glen Williams)
|Cape Road Runners Womens: Sarah Eftink, Chell Jannin, Jessica Rosati, Myra Gunn, |
Roxanne Magnus, Melanie Neeling, Marcy Ambler, and Brigitte Kinnaman. (Photo from Glen Williams)
For a chance to throw your rock into the Ohio, area runners are encouraged to include The Illinois River to River Relay on their "bucket list".
|Missouri Runnning Company provides banners for Masters and Womens Team vans. (Photo from Brigitte Kinnaman)|