This weekend you might have seen more runners than usual along the roadside.  Even in the mid-night hours, runners with reflective clothing, headlights and lots of will power ran under starry skies. This weekend marked The Relay a 196 mile annual run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz.  This monster of a run has 32 legs, 24 feet and runs (and parties) throughout the day and night!

The Relay started in 1995 .  Runners set off from Calistoga and cover seven counties ending with a big party in Santa Cruz.  The Relay celebrates team work and overcoming challenges. So it is fitting that The Relay joins Organs ‘R’ Us to support organ donations.   The baton that runners pass along the course has come to symbolize the transfer of an organ from donor to recipient. The Relay has been dedicated to transplant recipients, candidates, organ donors and donor families participating as runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators.  Over 100,000 of our fellow American are waiting for an organ.*

Each team has 12 runners who each run in rotation three legs 3-8 miles long, some relatively flat and others crushingly

Passing the baton.

Passing the baton.

steep!  The runners pass through 36 Cities including Petaluma.   I watched as a local team, “Cheaper Than Therapy” ran into town along D Street.  Jonathon Brayton, an Ironman Triathlete and a  UCSF transplant nurse, ran from Casa Grande High School up D street Hill in his size 15 running shoes to pass the baton off to JT Wick.   Jonathon, in his professional and personal life,  knows the importance of fund raising and awareness for organ transplant.   Last year his own two year old niece got a donor heart.  She is now thriving.

After making it over D Street Hill, Jonathon passed the baton to JT  Wick who then ran over  Red Hill.  This is a nasty steep grade with sweeping views of the McEvoy Olive Ranch.  JT’s view, however, was the gravel under his feet. His CT2 teammates helped by  cheering him over the summit.  From that leg’s end at the Cheese Factory, CT2 Van 1 took charge while Van 2 rested and refueled before rejoining their teammates to finish the relay.

Each Relay team has two vans traveling along with runners.  Vans are decorated with the Team’s name and colorful art.

Cheaper Than Therapy Van

Teams track the number of runners they pass along the way, marking van windows to track their success.  All in good fun.   While some teams compete for place, all experience the challenge, raise money for a great charity and party with their friends!

Over 200  teams registered in this year’s event,  the following are from Petaluma: 11 People Are Waiting,  Athleta 1, Athleta 2, Athleta 3, Terra Linda Relay Team,  Petaluma Fire Fighter (Local 1415) , Chasing Booty (Petaluma Coast Guard team) and Cheaper Than Therapy.  Congratulations  to all the teams on a job well done!

* Petaluman Aerial Gilbert who donated her kidney to friend and Petaluman Ken Alterburger on March 1.  This weekend Aerial cheered on  Ken,  and her kidney, in a local bike race Tour de Cure !