Joe Relaxo 24hr Challenge Recap

Sunrise over Pensacola Bay Saturday Morning – January 25th

This was unlike any race I have ever ran and possibly to toughest to date.

But some housekeeping first! The race is put on by a local Race Director RunPensacola. Over 70 racers began the challenge with few DNF’ing. You had the option of running solo or in a two person team. Race temps were as low as 30’s at night and as high as 50’s during the day. There was no expo. Packet pickup was at the race location and began a few hours before the race. Each racer received a quality long sleeve hoodie shirt with the Race logo on the front and the sponsors and the name of each participant on the back (which I think is a really coll touch). Each racer also received a performance reversible beanie by Headsweats with the race logo on the front and race director logo on the back. The finisher medal was in the shape of Joe Relaxo with the year hanging below. It is designed to add a new year banner for each subsequent year you participate. Aid stations were not necessary as this was a 1 mile looped event. However, the race director secured two restaurant sponsors who brought soup and sandwiches to the race location three different times. The race was located in downtown Pensacola at the Maritime Community Park with the staging area right on Pensacola Bay. Therefore, 80% of the run was was bordered by the water with the other 20% following the road. You could not ask for a better setting for a race like this. We saw two sunsets and one sunrise over the course of the race. The course was concrete with some brick. The unforgiving nature of the running path began to wear on your body over the 24hrs. The runners were able to stage their gear on a grassy area at the start line. This was nice as it promoted socializing with other racers and I actually met several new runners from my community. The runners had access to clean, large bathrooms which was very nice.

Sunset over Pensacola Bay Friday Night – January 24th

This race was both mentally and physically tough. The goal of the race is to run 1 mile every 30 minutes for a 24 hour period. You completed a total of 48 miles. Every mile had to be started and completed in that 30 minutes period, and there was no banking miles. I logged a total of 1,776 ft. of elevation gain for the 48 miles, so each loop was negligible. The race began at 7pm on Friday night and ended at 7pm on Saturday night.

I approached the race as an interval workout. So I pushed hard on each mile. Other than hitting a wall miles 39 to 41, I fluctuated in the 7 to 8 minute mile mark. Personally the toughest part of the race was mental. Discomfort was the operative word Friday night. It was cold, windy, and wet from both dew and sweat. In the lull between miles the mind did not stop telling you to quit and go to your warm comfortable home. The 15 minutes of waiting before lining up in the corral for the next mile sometimes it went by very fast, but most times it went by excruciatingly slow. And believe me your mind did not SHUT UP! It took a lot of mental fortitude to stick with the race and keep pushing overnight. There was an amazing burst of energy for every racer at sunrise on Saturday morning. The camp seemed to come alive, I know I did. But Friday night was extremely difficult mentally and physically and I wanted to quit several times! It was also important to stay loose between miles. I alternated between stretching, using a foam roller on my legs, and to just continue walking until the next mile started. The legs still tightened up on me (see comment re: hitting the wall above).

Joe Relaxo 24hr Challenge Night Kit (Left) and Day Kit (Right)

I had a night kit and day kit. Other than underestimating the cold Friday night/Saturday morning, my gear worked perfectly. I started the race in Altra Escalante, changed to Luna Mono Gordo sandals after mile 32, and ended the race in Altra Duos. I supported both of my ambassadors Orange Mud and BibRave by wearing their gear during the race. I rep these two companies because I love their culture and they are true to the runner and adventurer. I encourage everyone to check out their sites when you have time. I prefer real food nutrition on longer races, so I brought black bean wraps, Pringle’s Salt & Vinegar chips, and gummy bears. I had tailwind and water for hydration. My goal was not to just participate but to run strong and I ultimately finished in the top 10% based on my time tracking and knowing who finished ahead of me each loop (official results have not been posted as of this date, but I will update this post when received).

Post Race Picture with my Joe Relaxo 24HR Challenge Medal – January 25th

I recommend this race to anyone wanting to challenge themselves mentally and physically. It will test your toughness as long as you approach it with the intent to run hard every mile. I managed a 9:08 avg. pace for the 48 miles (that includes a celebratory walk for the last mile with friends). I felt very accomplished after this race and will do it again next year, because my medal needs at least two banners…right!?!

Published by Coast to Mountain Runner

Coastal living in Florida. On a personal journey to get better and to run longer. The path to knowledge is up the mountain. We can summit it together here.

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