An Odyssey you say? I’ll take two please!

I’ve gotten to take part in a lot of cool races and runs during my long and not-so-impressive running career, but I think my favorite so far has been the Reno Tahoe Odyssey.

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  According to the official RTO website: “Odyssey” is defined as “a long   wandering marked usually by many changes of fortune.”

  It is a long wandering. A relay run ideally suited for teams of 12      runners on a 178 mile course. Starting in Downtown Reno along the  Truckee River. Traveling through the Sierra Nevada mountains and  along the shores of Lake Tahoe. Circling back through the Northern  Nevada high desert to where you began in Reno.

  The race begins Friday. It is a staggered start, with waves of teams  starting every 15 to 30 minutes. The slower seeded teams will begin  around  9 a.m. and the faster seeded teams will begin in the  afternoon. Exact start times will be announced in the month before  the event. Plan to get to Reno by Thursday night.

The only changes of fortune you will experience will be for the better. You will have a great time. And when you finish, you will enjoy an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and teamwork. And be the special guests at a party to celebrate your achievement.”

The race is capped at 250 teams, which may not sound all that impressive, but when you see the hordes of team vans along the narrow and winding roads that make up the RTO course, it seems like a very large number indeed.

The race then becomes a contest of sorts to see who can come up with the most clever team name, or best decorated vans, or even the best costumes.  It a people watching spectacle and it is also a perfect example of friendly competition, camaraderie, and teamwork.

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Last year was my first time participating in the Odyssey.  I had a few friends from work who had joined a team the previous year and enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to form their own team the following year.  So my team consisted of two veterans and ten newbies, and of the people I knew on the team, I was the only one that ended up in Van 2.  So we were all strangers and all Odyssey virgins.

The best and worst thing about the Odyssey: you get to know your team pretty well very quickly.  Hard not to when you’re all trapped together in a tightly confined space for the better part of two days.  In our case, we got lucky, we got along like we’d always been friends, and by the end we had a van theme song, a mascot, and countless inside jokes to share.

If all of that hasn’t sold you yet, check out this awesome YouTube video:

I’m really excited to be gearing up for the Odyssey again this year, and with an entire team counting on my performance, this might be the best motivation I’m likely to get to actually train consistently.  I’ll keep you posted with updates as we get closer to the race, but in the mean-time check out the RTO’s website and start planning your team for next year!

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