By Scott Oxarart, Reno Gazette-Journal, May 31, 2013

The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey kicks off this morning as about 250 teams begin a 178-mile relay race from Reno to Lake Tahoe to Carson City to Virginia City and back to Reno.

Teams usually field 12 runners who average about three runs of 5 miles each. There are 36 legs total. It’s the ninth annual race and director Eric Lerude is expecting a nice slate of weather, as long as it doesn’t get too hot.

Question: What is your favorite leg of the Odyssey?

Answer: There are a number of epic legs on the RTO course, but I’d have to select Leg 4 aka Donner’s Downfall as my favorite. It is one of the most scenic legs. Cross the Truckee River over the old steel bridge; great views of Dog Valley and the Sierra peaks. It is the most challenging, with six miles of climbing. We have our one time trial on that leg, adding a little individual competition in the team relay event.

Q: What draws people in about the race?

A: It is not just a typical run. Rather it is an amazing experience over 24 to 36 hours. It is spiritual for many runners. The typical runner runs a leg on Friday, then one that night, and then a third leg the next day. In addition, the team aspect makes it so different. So much camaraderie is generated. Not only within the team but among all the teams as they travel the 178 mile course. It is a great group accomplishment to complete the event. Lastly, the course takes runners on a comprehensive tour of the region. They see lots of interesting sights and locations.

Q: Is it scary running at night?

A: No. Interestingly enough the night leg is the leg that most runners like the most. It is surreal, running through the quiet and dark of the night. It is so cool to see and be a part of the parade of lights created by the runners and vans. The night time exchange points are like adult slumber parties.

Q: What’s the best team name?

A: This is one of the many fun parts of the event. So many teams come up with very creative and funny names. Last year’s Best Team Name contest winner was “Donner ? Party of 12.” Past winners include “Scrambled Legs N’ Achin”, “How The West Was Run,” “Sisters and Misters with Blisters” and “Penelope’s ‘s Revenge” (Penelope was married to Odysseus when he went off on his Odyssey). This year’s winner will be disclosed Thursday night at the captains meeting.

Q: Where are the best places to watch?

A: The start on Friday at Wingfield Park. The exchange on Saturday morning at Virginia City. The last leg through southwest Reno on Saturday and the finish in Idlewild Park.

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