Running the Virtual GAP Relay

For the second year, PEC is proud to serve as sustainability partner for the GAP Relay, a 150-mile relay race along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). Learn more about the partnership here.

Liz Woodwell, Team PEC

2020 has been an interesting year for racing, to say the least.

I have been doing triathlons for the past three years and various running races for longer than that.  This year, as more and more races were getting cancelled, I began looking for motivation to keep training. But never before had I participated in a virtual race.

P3R’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon became the first virtual race I’ve ever done. While it was strange to run along the Pittsburgh riverfront trails alone and call it a race, I really enjoyed the push to get outside and run further than I normally would. So, when the opportunity to participate in the GAP Relay came, I jumped at it. I’ve known about the race for a few years, but had never had the availability to participate before.

In a way, the switch to a virtual relay was a silver lining for me. The flexibility to race when I had time, and where I wanted, made it so easy to participate. Living not too far from the trail, I was inspired to run one of the legs I’d been assigned for real, as if the race were in person.

Deal to Frostburg was the last and longest leg I had. Along the GAP, this section turns out to be mostly downhill. All the more reason to run the real thing! Running this leg on the GAP was wonderful and going downhill was only one of the many reasons. Starting at that higher elevation turned out to be a great benefit as the temperature that morning sat around a comfortable 70 degrees. The shade along most of the trail also helped and meant I didn’t have to worry as much about the sun wearing me out.

The run was long, but it was nice to see the mile markers count down as I got closer to Frostburg, 25, 24, 23, …. each mile bringing new views and landmarks to keep things interesting. Most notable was the Big Savage tunnel. It was crazy to think about how much land was above me and what an engineering feat this was that I could safely run under a mountain. More broadly, it was amazing to realize how my ‘long’ run was such a small portion of the expansive trail.

After running Deal to Frostburg along the Great Allegheny Passage, I hope to have the chance to see the rest of it via run or bike sometime in the near future.