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Yale Law School Runners Complete 200-Mile Course

Yale Law School Runners Complete 200-Mile Course

Update, October 1: Although they may be unusually grateful that all of their classes are on the ground floor (because post-run soreness makes it hard to walk up and down stairs), the Yale Law School runners finished the Reach the Beach Relay ahead of their anticipated time. The entire team is safe with the only injuries being some aches and fatigue--"compensated for by elation," according to Kevin Keenan '02, the team captain.

(See below for more information on the race and for updates posted on the day of the race.)

"The whole experience was grueling, beautiful, and surreal, often at the same time," says Keenan.

Although the course was more difficult than the team had expected--with longer, steeper hills and shorter rest periods--they also performed better than they thought they would.

Emily Pierce '02, the most experienced runner in the group, felt that "the first half of leg three really felt like mile twenty-two of a marathon--maybe even worse." However, she also told the others, "You all outdid your own estimates of yourselves, and that's really what running is all about."

Along the way, organization was as much of a challenge as endurance. One van full of runners settled down at the wrong rest area, until Keenan's parents happened to stop by and alert them. Later, the other vanload nearly overslept.

One runner took a brief digression off course, oblivious to shouted warnings because he was listening to music on a Walkman. Okay, Keenan admits that he was that errant runner. Another team's van eventually stopped him, and he still managed to finish his leg in decent time, "but it was with an unwelcome extra hundred yards," he says.

The Yale runners were also glad to meet their colleagues from Harvard Law School along the course. (The Yale Law School team just happened to finish the course sixteen minutes faster than Harvard.) The two teams will be pooling the money they have raised to give to several community service organizations. As of last week, the Yale team was well on their way to their fund-raising goal of $10,000.

As the challenges of the race became a reality, the good causes may benefit from the runners' suffering. One of the runners, Bianca Locsin '03, writes, "A bunch of Law School friends have approached me after the race, expressing interest in making donations, astounded at the sheer idiocy of what I just put myself through."

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Update, September 28, 4:05 p.m.: Kevin Keenan '02 called in with an update from the Reach the Beach Relay, which is now in progress. (See below for details on the race.)

The Yale Law School runners continue ahead of their anticipated pace. The first six runners completed their legs in 3 hours and 58 minutes--19 minutes under their expected time. Interestingly, the Harvard Law School runners completed the first six legs in a virtually identical time.

In one minor mishap along the way, Becky Monroe '02 fell on a rough section of road, but she got up and still finished her section faster than anticipated.

The first van load of runners is now resting and enjoying some hot coffee, while the second half of the team is running. Emily Pierce '02 is currently on course and maintaining a pace of six and a half minutes per mile.

As twilight approaches, Keenan reports that the weather is gray and threatening, with intermittent rain. "We're a little bit worried about it," he says. "It's cold and it's just going to get colder."

Check this web site Monday morning to learn how the team finishes.

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Update, September 28, 12:15 p.m.: Andy Hessick '02 called in with an update from the Reach the Beach Relay, which is now in progress. (See below for details on the race.)

The Yale Law School runners were near the completion of the third leg of the race and were ahead of their predicted time by about a minute. Hessick completed the first leg in just under 28 minutes; Dana Bennett '03 had finished the second in around 19 minutes; and Elbert Lin '02 was on course.

Hessick described his run as "brutal," and said its billing as the "hardest 5k you'll ever run" was absolutely true. The course went straight up a slope at Bretton Woods Ski Area and then came back down a loose gravel trail. He reports that every runner had to slow to a walk before reaching the peak.

The team is in high spirits and enjoying the fact that the rain stopped just before their start time.

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This Friday at 11:00 a.m., Andy Hessick '02 will take the first steps in a 200-mile relay race that will lead a team of Yale Law School runners from the crags of the White Mountains to the ocean. The twelve-member YLS team is competing in the annual Reach the Beach Relay, while at the same time joining with colleagues from Harvard Law School to raise money for several community service organizations.

Hessick will run a short but steep course over a mountain peak, then pass the baton to Dana Bennett '03, who will have a few miles of road running in front of her. The continuous relay race, the longest of its kind in America, will take more than a day to complete, with team members rotating to run thirty-six legs of around five miles each.

And so they have been training, running all over New Haven, the country, and the world. Following summer jobs and interests, team members jogged along the beach in Chile, through stifling heat in Taiwan, and on trails on the banks of the Mississippi River. Team captain Kevin Keenan '02 has been running nearly every day, with a focus on tackling the slopes of East Rock, in preparation for the hills of New Hampshire. Keenan and much of the team reassembled for the New Haven 20K Road Race on Labor Day.

Injuries (bad backs, trick knees, shin splints, dependence on ibuprofen) and exhaustion have accumulated over the miles. Meanwhile, the law student-runners were back in classes and studying in the month leading up to the race. Keenan '02 comments, "Taking an hour out of your day each day, it's hard to fit into your schedule." But he says he would be running anyway (if not as much), and with this race they're managing to raise money for worthy causes at the same time.

Each runner has committed to gathering $800, or $10,000 for the whole team. Harvard has agreed to match this effort. The two teams will pool the money they've raised through solicitations of friends, families, coworkers, and professors, and then split it 50-50 between their chosen service organizations. One Yale beneficiary is All Our Kin, a program founded by a YLS graduate in which single parents meet state workfare requirements and train to become child-care providers by working with their own children. The other recipient will be Habitat for Humanity New Haven.

Although a footrace can be the simplest form of competition, this one requires almost as much logistical effort as muscular effort. James Gooch '02, who is overseeing this organization, says, "It has the potential to be a complete fiasco."

During the race, Gooch and other helpers will be using two vans to shuttle the runners to the thirty-five exchange points and five vehicle transition areas stretched down the state of New Hampshire. They are currently estimating the running time for each leg so as to smooth the process.

Gooch is trying to plan as much as possible ahead of time. He worries about what kind of food to bring and how much. He's thinking of lots of light, high-energy fare, like granola, bagels, and peanut butter. Each runner will bring a milk crate with extra shoes, socks, and warm clothes. Gooch is considering a tent. They're also required to have two illuminated vests and flashlights for safety. Gooch is certified in first aid and CPR and will bring a medical kit, just in case anything goes wrong.

When he realizes he'll have to shuffle the order of who rides in which van if even one runner drops out, he sighs and covers his head.

Gooch figures he'll stay awake for the whole race, concerned that if he closes his eyes something will go wrong. "It will be a long two days," he says, envying the runners because all they have to do is "run and rest."

Keenan finished his training with some long runs over the weekend and some last intense hills. He'll rest the final few days before the race. While he worries he may not have trained enough for this unique challenge, he's ready. "I'm sort of giddy--this combination of excitement and nervousness. . . . It seems like only a little while ago that this race was just an idea."

We won't know how all the planning and training will turn out until the YLS runners have jogged their way through the night and well into the next day, over mountains and to the lip of the sea.

Check back at this site on Friday and Monday for an update on the race.

For information on how to contribute, contact Kevin Keenan, kevin.keenan@yale.edu.