We sent out an email in January 2 to all 80+ racing teammates asking if they’d be interested in racing the Griffith Park Marathon Relay again. January is a very odd month because we just finished the busy holidays, the air is cold, and most are focused on either a break from running or getting ready for track season. We didn’t get a big response initially but as weeks passed our returning champs started checking in. The excitement started growing and more people showed interest so we started Saturday morning runs on the course.
Our defending champions who have had very close and exciting wins (see 2017 recap) all wanted to come back and defend their title. Unfortunately the race moved up in the calendar, one month earlier than usual, which did not jive with some of our schedules. More than half the the team could not return. Naomi had to attend her sisters wedding, Audrey was on vacation and Maria had family commitments. Fortunately we made some new friends and we hit them up to fill in the open spots and then some. We ended up with 15 runners, enough for three teams. We ordered them by who raced with us last year, then fastest 5K times and finally asked them which team they wanted to be in. We had A, B and C teams.
The Teams / Race Recap
Returning to defend their title was Jennifer Sunahara (2017) Angela Reynolds (2016) Yanet Urciaga (2017) and Caitlin Jacobsen (2016). New to the team was bad ass Monica Su who had a tremendous XC season last year. Kristin Reyes was originally on this team but she was called in to work and could not make it as our anchor.
- Leg 1 – We started with Yanet Urciaga, our track star. Afraid of hills but fearless in the descends. She had the fastest NBB time of the day with a time of 37:17 and gave us almost a 2 1/2 min lead against the competition.
- Leg 2 – Next was our Supermom, Caitlin Jacobsen, who flew in from Oregon for the weekend to race and hangout with the team. She gave a very strong performance of 38:50 but our competition, The Long Beach Lady Lions cut our lead down to 30 sec after their second runner dropped a 36:55.
- Leg 3 – With tempatures rising Angela Reynolds took off like a 100meter runner past the old zoo cages and gave it an honest effort in the hills. She ran a very strong 39:27 but the Lady Lions dropped another bomb, 38:56, which cut our lead down to within 5 seconds.
- Leg 4 – Looking to repeat another amazing comeback Jennifer Sunahara took to the course in the same leg as last year only this time the weather is hot and so is the competition. At this point it was vitrually a tie. Jen’s been talking about how tired she is from Boston Marathon, all the beer she’s been drinking, the busy schedule with modeling shoots and well… we didn’t know who was gonna come out of the trails first, Jen or the Lady Lions. But Jen came through again and emerged out of the trails first. We expected Lady Lions to be close behind but they didn’t show until one minute had passed. Jen ran exactly one minute faster than the competition – her time was 39:42 and the Lady Lions 40:42.
- Leg 5 – Getting anxious and pacing like a wolf waiting her turn to run was Monica Su. While we waited for Jen we didnt know if we’d have the lead, tie or have a very tight lead. The last runners are always the fastests and the Lady Lions had dropped a 36min runner early on so this last leg was gonna come down to the wire. It was late in the day the temps had risen to 95 degrees. Monica was nervous and hot and showered herself with water (which turned out to be juice). This helped break the tension but may have also helped caramalized her hair and skin in the baking sun. Monica ran a 37:47 to secure our third straigt win. After crossing the finish line she was utterly exhausted but we showered her with cold water to revive her. That worked; she was up for churros later on in the day 🙂
- Leg 1 – Ashlee Mayfield kicked off the race. She was coming off a very fierce M2B marathon so she was running on tired legs but it didn’t show as she ran a very strong 40:52 which put us right in the mix of the competition in 4th place.
- Leg 2 – Marfe Diaz did not sleep and was so nervous about racing that she pinned her bib number upside down. All that uncertainty wore off when she got the baton and ran a strong time of 41:09.
- Leg 3 – Ganna Bowen was the opposite of Marfe. She was extremely cool and when she got the baton she swiftly floated into the hills. Graceful as she appeared at the start and finish we have a video of her descending down the mountain like she is running on hot coals 🙂 Ganna ran a very fast 39:41 keeping the team in the mix.
- Leg 4 – The temperature was rising but Claudia Plascencia kept her cool and ran a very respectable 42:04 which secured our third-place finish.
- Leg 5 – Stephanie Hillman had arrived early to see her teammates start the race. She waited patiently, almost zen-like. By the time it was her turn to run the heat had turned up to sizzling 95 degrees and we were running in no mans land- first/second place were battling it out way ahead and 4th place was far back. All we had to do was stay consistent and finish the race. Stephanie dropped the hammer and ran a very fast time of 40:38, officially putting her team on the podium.
- Leg 1 – We had not met Laurent Kettle until race day. We needed to fill in the C Team and Janet Telles referred her to us. Lauren is awesome and fit right in. We’re so happy to have met her and were impressed with her performance. She had the fastest climb and the 4th fastest course time for NBB with 39:09. She put Team C in 2nd place after her leg.
- Leg 2 – We met Janet Telles through Marfe. We loved her contagious happiness right away. She said she wasn’t feeling it up the mountain but found her happy on the downhill. Running a very respectable 44:38 she emerged from the trails with her signature smile unlike everybody else grimacing with pain.
- Leg 3 – Our ultra trail runner friend Kasia Gondek. It was nice for her to take a break from long-distance and have her run on our relay team. She ran a great time of 43:24, fresh off M2B marathon the week prior.
- Leg 4 – Abigal Canizales, the team captain who organized NBB registration, jerseys, and training runs. Her training was a hit-and-miss miss but she still ran a very honest time of 43:07 to secure our 4th place finish.
- Leg 5 – Caitlin Jacobsen was visiting from Oregon for this race and she made it worth the trip by racing twice, for the A team and again anchoring for the C team to help us officially secure 4th place. She ran 43:42 the second time around in much hotter conditions and finished the race with a smile.
NBB Women A-Team 3:13:05 (yanet, Caitlin, angela, jen, monica)
Long Beach Lady Lions 3:14:48
NBB Women B Team 3:24:26 (ashlee, marfe, ganna, claudia, stephanie)
NBB Women C Team 3:34:03 (lauren, janet, kasia, abby, caitlin)
Bad Ass Mother Runners 4:39:25