13 CARES: Relay Iowa Spanning The Globe

Like any run, this one has a starting line and lots of interesting characters.

Some of them are ultra-marathoners, others are just regular folks, and they’ve all signed up for an event that’s like nothing else in the country.  That’s because “Relay Iowa” may have a starting line and a finish line like any other run, but it is the only two night, overnight relay.

The running never stops.

194 people on 18 teams are running border to border, covering 339 miles in sixty hours or less.

Bill Raine created the event four years ago and describes it like this, “It’s kinda like climbing Everest or something. No one cares how long it took you, it’s just bragging rights to say you did it.”

Teams decide just how tough it will be.  The maximum number of runners on a team is twelve, which would mean each person running more than 28 miles. How it’s broken up – is up to them.

By the time the sun is coming up on day two, bodies are starting to break down. The body also starts struggling when it’s not getting any sleep. Fatigue may be part of what leads to zany behavior – guys are wearing dresses, women are quacking like ducks, everyone’s laughing hysterically.  “Yes,” one runner admits, “you have to be crazy to do this!

Something other than training and mental toughness is keeping people going at this point. Bridie Sellers explains, “At the end of the day, we’re running for the kids in Africa and it’s a great cause so it’s something to feel good about doing.”

Even though “Relay Iowa” has a starting line and a finish line, it doesn’t just span Iowa – it spans the globe. 70 percent of the world’s AIDS population lives in sub-Saharan Africa. Just by running, people are raising money for an orphanage in South Africa started by Iowans.

For these runners, seeing the faces of the kids they’re helping makes the shin splints, lack of sleep and sheer madness worth it.  It’s another reason “Relay Iowa” isn’t just any other run.

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