By Regina Bradley, Reno Gazette-Journal, June 2, 2013
For the past five Reno-Tahoe Odyssey relay races, Runny Bums finished in second place. The past two years, the squad finished second to Nutz.
At the final leg of this year’s Odyssey, it appeared as if Nutz would defend its championship, and Runny Bums would be runner-up, again.
Trailing Nutz by 4 minutes to enter leg 36, Runny Bums’ Tony Daguanno, 36, of Portland, Ore., caught and passed Nutz’s Brandon Martinez at the two-mile mark of the 5.4-mile leg that finished in Idlewild Park in downtown Reno to cap the two-day event Saturday.
Runny Bums finished the grueling 178-mile course in 17 hours, 39 minutes and 9 seconds with a pace of 5.57 minutes per mile. Along with their long-awaited first-place finish, the time also set a course record.
“I was elated when they told me that we were on pace for the course record, so I wasn’t going to back down at that point,” Daguanno said.
The Runny Bums team has been competing in the Odyssey since 2007, and teammates hoped to overcome their second-place streak in 2013.
“The actual race, it was crazy, we were down by 14 minutes at one point,” Runny Bums team captain, Brandon Reiff, said. “Six years we’ve been doing this, and we’ve always finished runner-up, so it took us six years, but we finally won.”
The Runny Bums beat the course record that was originally set by Nutz last year by just more than 16 minutes. Nutz finished in 17:52:55, also finishing faster than their time last year.
The rivalry among the teams was great motivation.
“We have to tip our hat to them, they did an amazing job,” Runny Bums’ Alex Nickel said. “They pushed us so hard, and there were times when we all doubted we were ever going to even see them again. And one point, we were down 14 minutes and we caught back up with them, then we were down 12 minutes, then we were down 8 minutes and we ended up being down 6 minutes with two legs left and we closed the gap. It’s just been unbelievable.”
It was Daguanno’s first time to Reno and participating in the Odyssey. He finished the final leg in 30 minutes, 49.78 seconds.
Eclipse Running defended its championship in the Open Mixed category and crushed a record set in 2008 by 37 minutes, finishing in 19:05:18.
“It was a goal coming into the race because the Open Mixed record’s been standing for five years and it hasn’t been broken, and the team that had it was based in California and we said, ‘We’re bringing it back to Nevada,'” team captain John Ostezan, 49, said.
For all of the runners, it’s a great event to build camaraderie for 178 miles.
“It’s the one chance we have as people in individual sports like running to get a chance to do something as a team, and that’s what I love about the Odyssey,” Ostezan said.