Last weekend, I took part in a race I have done for the past 2 years called the River to River Relay (RRR). In this race, a team of 8 runners join up together and run a relay from one side of Illinois (Mississippi River) to the other (Ohio River). This is an 80 mile race, and each runner covers around 10 miles each throughout the day (I covered 10.7 miles). Each runner has 3 seperate legs of the race to run. So Runner #1 will start the race, hand off the baton to the Runner #2 at the exchange zone, Runner #2 runs his leg, hands off to Runner #3, and so on. While the runners are racing across the state, the guys NOT running at that moment on the team are riding in a van from exchange zone to exchange zone to keep ahead and have the next runner out and ready for when the next guy comes in to hand off. It is a frenzy of flying down country roads, jumping out of the van to cheer on the guy coming in, and to also cheer on the guy who is taking the baton next. Getting back in the van, and heading to the next exchange zone (all while cursing and taunting the current runner when the van passes them back) so we can do it all over again! The process of going from Runner 1-8 happens 3 times, so you race 3 times throughout the day of a distance around 3 miles. This race, for the lack of a better term is EPICLY awesome. There is plenty of downtime between races to recover, eat something and relax while you cheer on your other teammates, which is where I think I will be when I try out my “experiment” next year.
During the race, and especially during down time, people are sitting in vans and many of them are on the phone (texting, etc, etc). I think next year I want to try to advertise a Twitter hashtag to use by runners and officials during the race. This race provides a unique opportunity where people can use something like Twitter during the race to trash talk, give updates on the course, express feelings, and probably just be silly. I can imagine me tweeting about how we are catching the team ahead of us, maybe warning racers behind us of a fallen tree over the road, or even of hostile dogs to watch out for. People could see this, and be ready for it. I think it would be extremely interesting to test something like this out and see how much response I could get from people. The only thing I worry about is cell service. Many times throughout the race, I didn’t have cell service since we were in the middle of nowhere half the time.
To get something like this off the ground, the easiest thing to do would be to push the RRR officials to endorse the hashtag and advertise it. Maybe have it on the registration site or something. Tell the teams at the team meeting the night before the race, maybe. This is something I will have to think more about, but I hope that next year, I can make this happen!
Also, if you are wondering about the picture: Yes, that is an Optimus Prime piñata. We bought it ($20, but SO worth it!) at Wal-Mart and he was our mascot. You would not believe how many comments we had on that thing!