Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay!

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015

(Photo: Reach The Beach Relay)

201 miles. 12 women. 1 state. And 1 unforgettable experience. I’m ready for the New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay! I’m running as a guest of New Balance with the “Girls Run Beta” media team! New Balance has kitted me out (along with all the other team members) for the occasion. I’ll also be taking a tour of the New Balance Global Headquarters in Boston before taking on the trails and roads of New Hampshire.

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

Vistas! (Photo: Reach The Beach)

New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

The New Balance Reach The Beach Relay, in partnership with the Ragnar Relay Series, takes teams of 12 runners 201 miles across New Hampshire, from the White Mountains to Hampton Beach State Park on the Atlantic shore. Mountain vistas, serene lakes, and a covered bridge or two are on the menu. I can’t wait!

Teams start in waves from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday and have until 8 p.m. on Saturday to finish. We’re expected to maintain a pace of 10 minutes per mile or thereabouts for a total of 33.5 hours running.

“Girls Run Beta” starts at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, so we have exactly 33.5 hours until 8 p.m. Saturday. The pressure is on to maintain that 10 minute per mile pace. I’ll be racing each mile as fast as I can. I’m aiming to stick as close to my 9:00-9:10 half marathon pace as possible, but we’ll see how I fare with the hills, multi-legs, and longer distances. As long as I’m at a 10:00 or faster, I’ll be happy!

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

Hand off! (Photo: Reach The Beach)

Most teams include 12 runners, who finish three legs each. Leg distances vary wildly from 2.5 miles to 10.9. Each team member runs 12 to 20 miles total, depending on the legs they’re assigned. We have a designated order that dictates which legs we run, always in the same rotation. So Runner #1 does Legs 1, 13, and 25. Runner #2 does Legs 2, 14, and 26, and so on. We pass off a slap bracelet between runners as our baton.

As with distance, the difficulty of each leg varies as well. Reach The Beach 2015 uses four descriptors to classify legs: Easy, Moderate, Hard, and Very Hard. There are nine “Easy” legs, 13 “Moderate” legs, nine “Hard” legs and five “Very Hard” Legs.

Me? I drew a Hard, Very Hard, and Hard for a total of 19.8 miles. No other runner has all three legs with “Hard” in the name. Everyone else gets at least one easy or moderate leg. And I’m tied for the second highest mileage overall. What did I get myself into??? An adventure, it would seem! Here’s goes something!

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay!

Leg 1

Karla’s Leg 1

Start Time: 10:30 a.m.
Classification: Hard
Miles: 2.5

I have the honor of kicking off the race as Runner #1 on our team. Woohoo! This is the shortest leg of the race, but also the steepest. It takes me 954 feet up a mountain in 1.25 miles, then down just as quickly. Gulp. It’s apparently known as the “hero” leg: “For the mountain goats on your team.”

Um, that’s not me. If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a hundred times: I swim like a fish and hike like a fish. I’ve run exactly one trail race in my life, this summer in Turkey at the Runfire Cappadocia 20K. And I didn’t even finish. Because I got lost. Oh boy. (You can read about it at What It Took to Conquer (Part of) the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon in Turkey)

In my defense, I did run three days in a row during the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon through the Turkish desert, with the heat index peaking above 100 degrees, for a total of 24 miles. If anything, that experience should have prepared me well for this. (More to come on that soon!)

Running the “hero” leg is poetic justice. In my story about Runfire Cappadocia, I wrote:

I wanted to be an ultra marathoner for all my days. What does it take to run through the scorching Turkish desert? The willingness to be a hero “for ever and ever,” as David Bowie sang. Or, you know, just for one day.

Looks like I’ll be eating my own words!

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay!

Leg 13

Karla’s Leg 2

Estimated Start: 9:30 p.m.
Classification: Very Hard
Miles: 9.3

My second leg, leg 13 of the race, starts nearly 66 miles into the relay. It earned one of just five “Very Hard” monikers among the 36 legs. Yikes!

I’ve got 474 feet of elevation gain over 9.3 miles with a net uphill as I run along the southern boundary of the White Mountains before the next leg heads into New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

That’s a gentle enough amount of climbing. But what looks tough is that it’s a relentless 7-mile climb punctuated by brief declines before a short downhill reprieve at the end.

I think this will be a run where I have to just dig in and get it done. I’ll try to enjoy the quiet of running in the dark. And I’ll focus on what great training this will be for the few hills at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon in November and the famous Diamond Head climb I’ll face twice at the Honolulu Marathon in December.

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

Leg 25

Karla’s Leg 3

Estimated Start: 10:30 a.m.
Classification: Hard
Miles: 4.5 to 8

My third leg, leg 25, starts 143.5 miles and 24 hours into the race if we maintain that 10 minute pace. This leg is described as merely “hard.” I’m climbing 630 feet with a net elevation gain. Should be a piece of cake after my last two legs, haha.

Per the course directions, I climb “steadily” past Bear Brook State Park and the stone walls of picturesque farms in the town of Deerfield, which is nestled between Concord, Manchester, and Portsmouth. If I’m going to be climbing, at least I’ll have pretty things to look at on the way up!

All three of my legs involve climbs—sharp and steady among them. Awesome for a girl who hates running hills! I’m just going to keep reminding myself how strong this is going to make me! The legs aren’t hard. I’m hard! At least that’s what I’ll tell myself.

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

Hills! (Photo: Reach The Beach)

Wild Card

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. My last leg is a “Wild Card” leg. That means Runner #2 and I get to decide where we transition within an extended zone.

So I could run anywhere between 4.5 to 8 miles and Runner #2 could run anywhere between 2.9 to 6.4 miles for our last legs.

Runner #2’s legs are classified as “Moderate,” “Easy,” and “Moderate” for a total of 14.2 miles at most if she does the longest part of Wild Card leg, whereas mine are “Hard,” “Very Hard,” and “Hard” for a total of 19.8 miles at most. I hope she’ll have mercy on me if I need it. Pretty please? With a cherry on top?

Who knows what will happen once we’re out there. I might feel great and want to run all 19.8 miles. But then again, I might not. It’s good to know that I could catch a break if need be.

Running Times

Ready For New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay

Farmland! (Photo: Reach The Beach)

Another bright spot? My estimated start times. If we maintain that 10 minute per mile overall pace, I’m running at 10:30 a.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:30 a.m.

Those are really gentle hours to run compared with what some of my teammates will have. Sure, they might have easier legs, fewer uphills, or shorter distance overall, but many of them will also be running at 1 a.m., 2 a.m, and 3 a.m. through the night, as well as in the thick of the mid-day heat with the forecast calling for highs above 80.

By comparison, my running times are totally manageable. So all in all, I’d call it a fair trade.

Follow Along

So that’s the gist of my weekend. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll be posting photos and updates as long as I have cell service. We’ll be using the hashtags #NBGirlsRunBeta and #RTBRelay. Here are all of the ladies on my team in our running order!

I don’t think that anyone one of us will have it “easy” out there in the mountains of New Hampshire. No doubt we’ll have cause to celebrate once we Reach The Beach!

As mentioned above, I’m running the New Balance Reach The Beach Relay as a guest of New Balance. As always, all opinions are purely my own. Seriously. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


09 2015

10 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    This sound like SUCH. A. BLAST. And quite an experience! I am frequently jealous of your life, I’ve gotta say, lol. 😉

    No matter how “hard” it is, you’ve GOT THIS!
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..NYCM Training: Weeks 7 and 8My Profile

  2. Leslie Miller #

    EEK! That first hill looks wicked. What an amazing experience! Good luck to you and your teammates!!! I hope there will be a race recap :)

  3. 5

    Wow! Another incredible adventure for you, Karla! This seems like so much fun and it’s a relay race that I’m potentially interested in doing in the future.

    Good luck to you and everyone else on your team! Get lots of kills.
    Elle recently posted..JumpIn!My Profile

  4. 7

    I’ll be watching your media feeds! My husband has legs 10, 22 & 34 and probably have to do one extra since their team is short runners. Good luck! Those climbs look crazy!
    Judith recently posted..It’s Just Not Fair!!!My Profile

  5. 9

    Definitely an adventure!! But how fun!! I loved following along on social media!
    Emily recently posted..2015 St PetersburgMy Profile