The Great Relay Race (Day 211)

A highlight of each summer at the lake is the Lawrence Irany Great Relay Race. Now in its 36th year, the race starts off with a 6.5-kilometer bike ride along the windy, gravelly ups and downs of the lake roads. The biker then hands the baton (sweatband) over to a runner for a 4.5-kilometer trek through the woods and then that runner hops into a canoe and helps the two paddlers dig in for a 2.5-kilometer journey across the lake. They pass off to a kayaker who embarks on a 1.5-kilometer trip to a swimmer who brings it home with a 500-meter swim from the island back to the club. 

It’s a very fun day and each year some members of our family cobble together a team, usually at the last minute, sometimes involving unsuspecting houseguests. I often do the canoe, but this year (obviously) I wanted to swim and so Isabelle and I spent the last week gathering up team members, deciding on a name and costume, procuring all of the necessary equipment. These logistical necessities are often the most challenging aspects of the race: finding someone willing to bike (who actually has a bike at the lake), claiming a decent canoe, paddles, and kayak, and then getting the vessels to their respective starting points. 

Our team came together brilliantly. Re agreed to bike; Shannon said she would run; Isabelle and Natalie would be in the canoe; Jen in the kayak and I would swim. Isabelle had the idea of dressing up like Lawrence Irany, the beloved heart behind the Great Relay Race who passed away this last year and for whom the Great Relay Race is now named. Here is a quintessential picture of him:

We gathered up our bucket hats and glasses, long socks and baggy shorts; Isabelle made us mustaches and we were all costumed up. 

We were also pretty lucky as far as equipment. Re had a good kayak Jen could use and she lives by the starting point for the kayak portion of the race so Jen just had to get herself there. Isabelle and Cam brought Natalie’s canoe over to the starting point last night and got caught up in an epic downpour on the way. I’m really only writing about this because I want to post these pictures of the spectacular clouds that preceded the storm:

Conditions weren’t perfect for the race today, but they weren’t terrible. It was cool and blustery, the lake was pretty wavy, and we got a tiny smattering of rain. We met at the club and Shannon took off to the start of the run and the rest of us stayed to cheer Re on as the bikes started the race. Then Jen went home to boat over to the kayak start; Isabelle and Natalie went to the canoe start and I went over to Karen’s who kindly agreed to take me over to the island for the swim in Bob (Big Old Boat—her tinny). 

We had plenty of time before I had to be at the island and so we went over to cheer on the paddlers. Eventually, Karen brought me to the island and by then there were only three other swimmers left, all of them children. My only hope was that our kayakers would not come in at the same time, thus forcing me to go head to head with any of them, potentially humiliating myself.

Luckily, Jen slid in well ahead of the other kayakers and I had a nice, solid swim into the club with no one on my tail. It was quite wavy, but the waves seemed to be pushing in the right direction, helping me along. 

Back at the club, there was the usual celebration with all of the teams congratulating each other, drinking beer, and waiting for the results to come in. We were very proud to win best costume and even got a medal!

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