Marc Tritschler said Granville’s rolling terrain often gives him a leg up when competing locally in long-distance races.
That, however, is when Tritschler is competing on flatlands of western Ohio and parts west. Tritschler and nine others from Granville recently traveled east, and it was an eye-opener.
“Granville has a lot of hills, which is very helpful, and normally for runs in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, it is fine,” Tritschler said. “Going through Appalachia, we had nothing to prepare ourselves for that.”
The group of 10 competed in the Ragnar Relay Race on Sept. 21 and 22. Tritschler and others completed the 197-mile event in 27 hours and 31 minutes, top time in the mixed masters division — ages 40 and older — and 16th overall.
The race started at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 21 in Rocky Gap State Park near Cumberland, Md. It ended about 2 p.m. the next day in Washington D.C. at the National Harbor.
The race was broken into 36 legs of about six to eight miles apiece. Some of the legs had climbs in elevation of more than 1,000 feet.
“They were tough runs, but we also ran by really neat places — small towns that were 200 years old,” Tritschler said. “We ran past the Antietam battlefield. It was really neat.”
Everybody in the group is an experienced marathoner, and many were looking for another way to quench their thirst for competition. Two years ago, several did the Hood to Coast 195-mile race in Oregon.
Jim Silone has run 10 marathons, including Boston. He is training to compete in Philadelphia this fall.
“Especially your first marathon is sort of a bucket-list item, where more and more people are getting involved and training,” Silone said. “Once you start running them, the next thing on your bucket list becomes the Boston Marathon. Then, you look for other items.”
Silone and his wife, Karen, and Steve and Beth Flowers were husband-and-wife duos in the group. Others in the race were Michelle Saigh, Jen Lewis, Nancy Rapp, Ken Rittenhouse and Rob Montgomery, the team captain.
The group runs together every Saturday. To train for the Ragnar Relay, they often ran before work, after work and again at about 11 p.m. before repeating the routine the next day.
“There is a lot of sleep deprivation involved in these races that you don’t get when you are running just three or four hours for a marathon,” Jim Silone said. “The first run is usually pretty straightforward and easy, but the longer you are on your legs and the more sleep deprivation you have, it makes it much more difficult later in the race.”
The race began in waves, and Montgomery estimated about 200 teams had started before them. As each leg finished, the competitor would relay how many teams had been passed.
As the number grew, so did the excitement.
“There are pre-defined exchange points that are manned by volunteers, so there is a big crowd around there,” Montgomery said. “Your teammate is coming down the road to hand you the baton. It is very exciting and the same thing when you are finishing your leg. You are charging down the road to hand it off, and you want to get there to make a good time.”
Some in the group have run 100-mile ultra marathons. Others have done triathlons. The group also has begun to branch out to trail running.
Relays, however, might still be in their future. The group did too well to stop.
“The camaraderie was just a blast,” Tritschler said.