What Is It Really Like Running The Speed Project?
You may have heard of this little race called The Speed Project. It's a high stakes race from Santa Monica to Las Vegas. No route. No rules. You just have to get there on foot. It has become a bit of a bucket list race for the who's who of endurance racing. Who wouldn't want to trek through the desert with a few of your running buddies and then end with an epic Vegas celebration? Count us in! While Team Zealios isn't *quite* ready to take on this challenge, we were honored to supply LaRue's Crew with ample Sun Barrier and Race Relief for their trek. One of the members, Chloe, was gracious enough to give us a real look into their race and what went down for TSP 2021.
Why TSP? Has this always been a bucket list race?
This is our second time doing TSP. We did TSP DIY in 2020 and ran to the Mexico border and back. It was fun then, but didn't have the same kind of gratification this one did. There's something to be said about everyone running to the same place at the same time. I personally have always craved the most gnarly version of whatever I'm doing. I tell a lot of people that I'm not one to "half-ass" things. To me running TSP was inevitable and now I'm hooked. I'll be back every year I can.
How do you even begin to plan the logistics for this?
We tried to divvy up the work based on our strongsuits and make up for our mistakes last time. We picked a super solid support crew this time which helped a lot with removing the stress of it all. Basically one of our team members, Martin, is a human GPS and builds the routes. From there Rob transfers the route into bite-size pieces that we can run and adjusts everything by pace. Once that's assembled we can estimate pickup/dropoff times and locations for the RV and chase car based on where the runners will end. I handle a lot of the grunt work stuff - think lots of long drives and follow-up emails. The rest is a community effort with those chipping in who can both runner and crew.
What did training look like leading up to the race?
I actually ran this race with a sprained ankle so my training was a few weeks before and mostly light tune-up. I got up to about 50 miles the week before race week keeping the workouts very conservative. The week of we all got around 15 easy miles in before race day. Because you can eat in your down time, there's no carbo-load either.
What was the schedule like for the actual race--running/resting cadence?
Our team consisted of 6 runners, 4 men and 2 women, that were split into two teams of 3. The layout was that one of the mini teams would be out running for 30-40 miles in 3 mile increments while the other mini team slept in the RV at the switch point. We stuck pretty close to the plan, but as the heat breached 90º we dropped the increments lower. We had about 5 sets total of the running/sleeping switch.
How did you fuel for TSP?
TSP provides you with more than enough Maurten gels and drink powders. We used those mostly during the running sets. In between it was whatever your stomach would take down. For me mashed potatoes, a few pb&js, and a gross amount of coca-cola. Our stronger stomach individuals were crushing glazed donuts and milkshakes. When your running 50 miles in the desert the health factor walks out and it really became a game of getting enough calories in.
Best part of the race? Worst part?
The best part sheesh. It's a rollercoaster of emotions. There are those occasional seconds where you're flying down the street just you, your team, and the street and you realize that you're really doing it. That feeling where you never expected not to make it this far, but you're still shocked you made it this far so your stride opens up and you kick a little. Those are the moments that make you come back. The worst are the moments when you question yourself. I was running up a hill in the sand and seeing no end to it, in that moment I questioned myself. Once you add questions, you add opportunities for an out and your mind begins to spiral. I was able to snub it relatively quick, but it was definitely a low.
(Photo credit: @austinnuchols)
The team aspect of this is so crucial-did you know each other going into it?
We added two new runners this year in our team that some of us knew and others didn't. Luckily we all meshed beautifully. As a kid who nerds out on science a lot, there's something very powerful about how humans bond in times of struggle. It's a survival factor. Lots of people are under the misconception that humans aren't pack animals, but they most definitely are. Your team becomes your family as soon as the gun goes off. You run for them as much as you run for yourself.
We hear the after party is legendary--did it hold up to the fame?
You know what they say, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"