By Scott Oxarart, Reno Gazette-Journal, June 2, 2012

Run was experience of a lifetime

It felt like motor oil fresh from a running engine was seeping into my socks and onto the top of my feet.

It was as if the gritty sand from Hurricane Bay was being poured into my mouth with a child’s beach shovel.

Was someone taking ski poles and gouging them into my calves, then using a piece of rebar to do the same work on my quad?

That was just 10 minutes into Leg 7 of the 36-leg, 178-mile Reno-Tahoe Odyssey relay race on Friday.

As I finished leg 31 of the RTO on Saturday around 11 a.m., I knew the best feeling of the weekend was completion. Was it difficult? Sure. But in a good way.

The record heat impacted the Odyssey and its runners significantly.

But it also made it better.

Leg 7: 4.9 miles, moderate The Heat

I don’t care who you were or how much training you’d done: the blistering sun impacted every runner.

The course is on pavement, and it’s a terrible feeling when that sun reflects off it and creeps into your bottom half, specifically your feet. Ask anyone who ran down Geiger Grade on Saturday afternoon. Just watching from the turnouts made me break a sweat. It was almost unbearable.

With a steady wind blowing in my face Friday, all the moisture in my mouth was gone. I drank plenty of water in the week leading up to the event, but I felt like I’d woken up after a hard night of cheap whiskey and a carton of Virginia Slims.

Yes, the warm weather was unfortunate. But that’s one factor that makes it a great race. If it was easy, everyone would do it. And besides, it’s Nevada. Anyone who was surprised by the weather probably wasn’t from here.

On a positive note, Friday’s warm temperatures made sticking my feet in the Truckee River, near Tahoe City, feel great.

Leg 19: 4.2 miles, most difficult The Cold

The fact that the sun torched racers on Friday only made it better for those with legs around midnight and later Saturday.

Last year, the weather was cold and for the most part miserable until you started running and got your blood flowing. But this year I ran Leg 19 around 2 a.m. in a regular running shirt. Going up Highway 207 Kingsbury Grade was one of the most memorable and pleasant running experiences I’ve ever had.

No wind. Just stars and a bright moon. The air was crisp. The fear I got from seeing a shadow in the woods approaching me, only to discover it was my own shadow lit up from a car behind, took my mind off how hard the uphill route was.

It was an experience I would have never been able to have, in that area, without the Odyssey.

After I reached the summit, I blissfully passed the baton/wrist band to my teammate, feeling achievement for not stopping during the entire route, yet feeling like I was given an advantage because of the cool air and the darkness.

I rode that feeling while cheering for my teammates down Kingsbury into Genoa, through Jack’s Valley and to Carson City. I finally got about an hour of sleep around 6:30 a.m. before heading to Virginia City for leg 31.

Leg 31: 3.1 miles, most difficult The Fun of It

The weather was both good (cold) and bad (really, really hot), but there were just so many things about the Odyssey that were so awesome.

Like the wedding of Heidi Hurst and Pete Parker, which happened as I was waiting to run my final leg.

Like the view of the purple clouds glistening off the west shore of Lake Tahoe (which I hadn’t been to before the race).

Or the glowing of head lamps and head lights in a single line as I looked up Kingsbury Grade from below in Carson Valley.

Or the look of the faces of the folks in the two vans that my teammates and I mooned.

You’ll do things you’ve never done (or at least since high school) when you compete in the the Odyssey.

RGJ reporter Scott Oxarart ran for the Silver State Streakers team in the eighth annual Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. He completed three legs. The lengths and descriptions for Scott’s three legs are provided by the race director.

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