2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report

Team Honey Buckettes turned 5 this year!

This was our fifth year running the Rainier to Ruston Relay, a one-day 51-mile relay. I hope we are still running it when we are old ladies.

This year, we had some changes. Mel’s friend, Jami, joined our team, and we became a 6-person all-female team. In 2012 and 2013, we were a 4-woman team. In 2014 and 2015, we were a 6-person co-ed team. Other changes: I drove my minivan, and we opted to decorate the van up at the start of the race to make sure we got there in time. Last year, we practically threw Tiffany out of the car as the 8 a.m. start was happening.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Decorating at the start line is the way to go.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Me, driving the team in my minivan, AKA The Black Pearl.

The start of Rainier to Ruston is always exciting because you never know if you’ll get to use the Honey Buckets before the race begins. It’s such a rush! This year was even better since the race is bigger now and the line was longer than we expected.

Luckily, we made it out on time and Mel started us off with the 8 a.m. crowd (there are four start times now–there were three when we first ran the race in 2012).

Here were this year’s leg assignments:

Mel: Legs 1 and 7

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Mel after Leg 1
Mel, after crushing the first leg of the race.

Zoë: Legs 2 and 8

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë being her cute self.

Me: Legs 3 and 9

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Waiting for Zoë at the Leg 3 exchange.

Tiffany: Legs 4 and 10

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany, AKA the official team photographer, front and center. She takes the best pics! (Here, we are in the Beast Mode bus at the finish.)

Alyssa: Legs 5 and 11

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Alyssa
Alyssa having the post-race sillies.

Jami: Legs 6 and 12

Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Jami
Jami rocking the sparkle.

As of this year, I’ve now run leg 2 (twice), leg 3, leg 4, leg 5, leg 6, leg 9, leg 10 (3 times), and leg 11. Everything I know about 1, 7, 8 or 12 is from driving it or hearing about it.

Let me just cut to the chase and get into the legs of this race. Now that it’s been 5 years, I feel qualified to discuss each one.

The best legs are: 1-4.

Leg 1 is the start and it’s among the trees and your team drives by and is all excited and honks and screams and plays loud music. (It’s possible that’s just us.) Leg 1 is not on trail, it is on the road, but it’s still really pretty and you can run it fast other than one tough hill. (Of course, this is all according to my teammates since I’ve never run it–but we do drive it.) Mel crushed Leg 1 this year and even surprised herself at her speed.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Go Mel!

Leg 2 is the toughest leg, but it’s amazing. You get single-track trail, you get mud, you get to run with the Carbon River rushing below you. It’s a longer leg, too. You get all the glory! Leg 2 is especially tough if you get stung by a bee on your lip, as Zoë did this year.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
There is a place about mid-way through Leg 2 where you can climb down and cheer your runner. This is where we found out what was taking Zoë longer than expected. She’d been stung by a bee on her lip. She’d never been stung before and didn’t know if she was allergic. Luckily, a nearby runner also happened to be a medic, and he stayed with her for the entire leg. That’s right, she refused to quit and she finished the leg, which is over 6 and a half miles long.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Mel and me waiting for (and worrying about) Zoë.

Leg 3 is pretty. It’s really downhill, so you can run fast. In fact, I surprised myself with a pace in the 8-minute-per-mile range. It’s mostly trail and in the trees. It’s a little rocky, I turned my ankle a couple times. It’s also tough to pass in a couple places of single-track trail surrounded by giant bushes. No river views, but you’re out in nature, and it’s only 4 miles. It’s the kind of leg you can push yourself on. The last half-mile or so is on asphalt and there is a killer turn at the end.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Here comes Zoë, finishing Leg 2 after being stung by a bee! I’m happy to see her smiling, and I’m ready to run!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Leaning into the 180-degree turn at the finish of Leg 3!

Leg 4 is like legs 1, 2 and 3 mushed together. It’s beautiful trail, some of it near a river, and then there’s some road running at the end, which I always forget about because the first part of the leg is so beautiful. Tiffany reminded me (read: scolded me for not telling her about the road part, which is also a giant winding hill with no shade). Oops. The fact is, Leg 4 connects the dirt trail to the paved Orting Trail. I ran this leg in 2014–the year I didn’t write a race report. I just remember absolutely loving this leg. It was fun, tough and fast.

20216 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany during the pretty part of Leg 4.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
This is what the end of Leg 4 looks like. Me in 2014.

The other legs are good, but they’re no 1-4.

Leg 5 is pretty, but it’s on paved trail. The good news is that it is slightly downhill and you can crush it. You also get to run over some cute bridges and be near the river.

Rainier to Ruston Relay
Me running at the start of Leg 5 in 2015.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Alyssa finishing a speedy Leg 5 this year.

Leg 6 is another super speedy leg. It’s short (less than 3 miles) and super fast. Jami was at the exchange before we were ready for her!

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Jami finishing a fast Leg 6!

Legs 7 and 8 are on the Orting Trail. I don’t know much about them, except that they aren’t that eventful. They are on the Orting Trail. I think Leg 7 is mostly on the trail running next to the highway. Leg 8 has no shade.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Mel toughing out the heat and rocking Leg 7!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë finally getting some shade at the end of a very hot Leg 8.

Leg 9 gets you off the Orting Trail and onto the trail next to the Puyallup River. It has a couple of transitional type areas, first through farms and then later through a neighborhood. It has quite a bit of shade along the river and there were tons of families out the day of the race.

By the time I was running Leg 9 it was in the mid-80s. Luckily, I decided to bring my big Nuun bottle full of ice water because I needed it, as did several other people I encountered on the leg. One woman, I’d seen running Leg 8 already, and she didn’t have water! I shared with her. Another guy was an ultrarunner that just needed cooling off, so he got some water on his head and neck from me.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Can you tell I’m hot?

I ran almost two minutes slower than I ran on Leg 3 that morning, but that’s just how it goes. I’ve been practicing mindfulness and being positive, and that really came into play during this leg. My music stopped working, my knee hurt, it was hot…but I tried to notice the good things (beautiful day, happy families, enjoying my hobby), and let go of the negativity. It worked. I had a great time. I also gave myself permission to walk. Just giving myself permission helped, and I didn’t end up needing to.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Happy to be done, but worried about Tiffany heading into Leg 10. It was her first time running that leg, and I have a lot of experience with it.

The worst legs are: 10-11.

Leg 10 is 3 miles in sand. The trail is lined with tall grasses and blackberry bushes, vegetation that would be in a riverbed. And, if that’s not enough, the trail is down in a canal.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Tiffany was smart and took a picture during Leg 10 of the evil sand.

There’s no crowd support. There’s no shade. It’s 3 miles essentially on a beach except you only get a few looks at the Puyallup River, which is I mean, no ocean. There is a place where teams can stop about mid-way through Leg 3, but we never see anyone stopped there. We always stop, and this year we had some extra water, so we filled up ultrarunners’ water bottles and dumped water on runners’ heads. It felt good to help out. I know I always appreciated it.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
Water girl.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
You guys. Poor Tiffany. It was so hot.

Leg 11 starts in that same sand, then spits you out in industrial Tacoma. You get to run by empty office buildings, through a freeway construction site and past sketchy bars and shady people who ogle your sparkly skirt. This year, this leg was rerouted a bit at the end, and it seems like it would be better. It’s a long leg at almost 6 miles, but they shortened it a bit since years previous, and they get you down near the waterfront quicker.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Alyssa pretending to be scared of Leg 11.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Report
The Honey Buckettes always meet their Leg 11 runner a couple miles into the leg. Alyssa took one for the team and did Leg 11 this year.

Leg 12 is hot, but it’s the final leg! You get to run along the waterfront in Tacoma, but you also have to weave around lots of people who are just out enjoying their Saturday, and other race participants. You also get to photobomb wedding and prom pictures.

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Jami ready to bring us home!

After the race this year, in addition to the group photo…

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Team Honey Buckettes finished 6th in our division (open, female 6-person team) with a time of 8:53:13.

…there was free beer and hot dogs in the beer garden. They also had the Seahawks Beast Mode bus to check out. Of course, we had post-race dinner and beverages, but we were all pretty beat by then.

Let me know if you have any questions about this race. It’s my favorite race every year, even with the bad legs.

If you want, you can click on the years to read my 2012 (leg 2, leg 6 and leg 10), 2013 and 2015 reports. I still don’t know why I didn’t write a 2014 report. You have no idea how much that annoys me…

2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Can’t run a race without a flexing pic! This is me getting ready to start Leg 9.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Zoë is the official team artist.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Goofing off with Alyssa, Zoë and Mel.


Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Mel
Cheers, pretty Mel!


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Cute Tiffany in the beer garden.


Rainier to Ruston 2016 - Zoe and Jami
Zoë and Jami looking fab in the beer garden.


2016 Rainier to Ruston Relay Race Report
Yay it’s 5:30 a.m.! (Pre-race before leaving for the start.) Front, from left: Tiffany and Alyssa. Back, from left: Mel, Zoë, me and Jami. Love my teammates!