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In the 40-degree morning, 90 teams gathered south of the Rexburg Idaho Temple to run the 37.2 miles from the Rexburg Temple to the Idaho Falls Temple.
“It’s awesome to gather this many people with a shared passion,” said Kwani Winder, the relay coordinator.
Stretching, jumping and high-knees moved runners from one check-in station to another.
Waves of runners started just after 6:30 a.m. By about 8:30 a.m. all the teams had started the relay.
Participants were divided into divisions of male, women, or coed teams with 1-8 runners per team.
Austin Patten, a junior studying business management, was one of the few solo runners.
“I have run marathons in Utah, Idaho and Illinois. This is going to be a stretch of my capacity. I’m really nervous, but focused. I’ll be fine when I calm down,” Patten said.
Jeanette Leishman, a junior studying therapeutic recreation, joked about her decision to race.
“I’m as excited as I can be about running. I was feeling really excited a few months ago. This morning I’m not so sure. When I’m old and grey I’ll be so proud I did this,” said Leishman.
According to the Relay Handbook, teams only needed to average 12-minute miles to participate.
Caitie Metts, a senior studying biology, said that it was going to be difficult, but she knew she could do it.
“I really hope not to die in this race even though I’m only running 2.7 miles. I can run two miles; it’s the .7 that’ll get me. I can do it,” Metts said.
With about 700 participants, 200 more than last year, and over 50 volunteers coordinating the event it was a challenge for some of the volunteers who were at the race.
Winder said that with more people running in the race, it was more of a challenge this time around.
“Coordinating over 50 volunteers is difficult. This relay isn’t possible without [volunteers],” Winder said.
Volunteers were assigned specific legs of the race to set traffic cones, water stations and route directions for runners’ safety.
Eric Young, a junior studying mechanical engineering said, “I have three stations: the start and two other legs. We stress staying hydrated so people aren’t passing out during their race.”
The last leg of the relay was surrounded by cheers and applauding from other runners, fans and passers by.
“It was really tough to finish,” said Metts. “I wanted to give especially at the hills. After I crossed [the finish line], it was rewarding. I loved to see my team there cheering for me.”
Fit in between the river and the Idaho Falls Temple, the final stretch was typically finished with each team sporting their final runner as they made their final push.
“It motivated me to have my teammates there,” said Andrew Bayba, a junior studying mechanical engineering.“My morale went and I ran faster. Whenever I saw another kid, I had to race him.”