The race, Southern Odyssey Relay Run Adventure, will take Owen and her 11 teammates from Rome’s Heritage Park, through a long network of roads and trails up through Summerville, Chickamauga, Ft. Oglethorpe and back down through Adairsville, Kingston, Euharlee and Acworth, eventually finishing in Kennesaw.
The adventure is 196 miles of running which is shared by 12 runners. Each runner will have 3 different legs of the race to run throughout the 24-hour period. So Owen will run a few miles in the morning, ride in the team van for a section of the course, get out and run another few miles in the afternoon, join her teammates in the van once again, then she’ll run her last leg sometime in the evening or night.
“I’m doing it because I like team sports and this is a team endeavor,” said Owen, who can now be found most days at the track in Rockmart training for the event. “I knew it would inspire me to train. I am pushing myself much harder for this race because I want to do my best for the team and contribute all I can.”
Owen said if it was an individual race, there are many days when she would just have stayed at home instead of hitting the track. But because she has 11 other people depending on her, she feels motivated to get out and do it. But there’s also an aspect of fun.
“We have a really fun group and I know a few of my teammates will have me laughing for 24 hours straight even if we’re all sweaty and stinky the whole time,” Owen added. “I have never done anything like this before. It’s really important for me to provide a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my daughters Mary Ella and Dori. I want to show them that staying fit and participating in these kinds of events can be fun.”
The Southern Odyssey Relay Run Adventure is open to the public. The event’s web site, southernodysseyrelay.com offers information about the race format, the course, and even training tips. Visitors can also view photos are results from previous years’ events.
Owen’s team consists of members in their 20s as well as those in their 40s. Each comes with a different fitness level and running experience.
Bill Kelly started running seriously in January when he went on a diet.
“I started for weight loss and to get healthy,” Kelly said. “It’s helped with my blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, everything. Now I do it to stay in shape and to stay healthy.”
Kelly, 40, runs on average, 3 or 4 times each week, and about 4 miles per outing. To train for the Odyssey he now runs in the morning as well as some afternoons.
“I know that for this race we’ll run in the morning then have to run another leg later in the day and then a third at night,” he said. “So I’m just getting my body used to running a few miles at different times of the day.”
Kelly said readers shouldn’t be daunted by the thought of a 200-mile race. He said runners can choose legs of the race that fit their fitness levels and should remember that the challenge and camaraderie are the most important parts of an event like this.
The race is a true relay, with 12 team members riding in two vans. Each member runs his or her designated leg and a teammate takes over at transition areas manned by volunteers. The event’s site has a list of rules and tips for team captains to know before the event. One handy piece of information is the course breakdown.
Organizers have predetermined each runner’s individual legs of the race. And they’re not all the same. For example, Runner 1’s first leg is 4.5 miles in the morning. He will not run again until the Runner 12 has finished her first leg. Runner 1 will run another 3.2 miles and the process will repeat itself until Runner 1’s turn comes around later in the evening when he runs his last leg of 4.5 miles.
Some legs are more difficult than others so teams will decide the runners who will take the legs that suit their running abilities. Runner 2 will run a total of 10.5 miles over the course of 24 hours while Runner 8 will run a total of 19.6 miles.
Organizers say that for teams will stay within the Odyssey’s time limit if each runner is able to run at a pace of at least an 11-minute mile.
Rusty Andrews, 48, said he decided to run the Odyssey because he sees it as a form of motivation, a new challenge for a solitary runner.
“I have been running consistently for over 20 years to stay conditioned for my job,” Andrews said. “I have also learned that consistent running is great weight control. I have been a solitary runner and as I have gotten older I’ve tried to find different things to motivate me. This upcoming race will be a great motivation. It’ll be very different from my usual running routine and I’ll be running as part of a team.”
It’s not too late to sign up a team and start training for this year’s Southern Odyssey Relay Run Adventure. Visit southernodysseyrelay.com for race and course information, photos, FAQs, and to register for the event.