by Team Six Legged Freaks
Happy 10th anniversary Six Legged Freaks! This year marks the 10th consecutive year the Six Legged Freaks have run as an ultra team in the Wasatch Back Relay. The first time we had heard about a relay race of 12 runners covering 180 miles in the back country of Utah we knew we had to get in on it. Before signing up we debated running with 6 runners opposed to 12 and came to the conclusion that we would rather run double the miles than be stuck in a van with 5 other people for 24 hours. We were all in our 20’s and had just finished our collegiate running careers at the University of Utah.
After that first year we were hooked. There is no other event that we participate in that allows us to get together as former teammates and do what we love to do…run!
To get things started, it was the second year of this brand new and crazy event. We had to get race organizers Dan Hill and Tanner Bell to let us run with just 6 runners, the first year they only allowed teams of 12. They thought we were crazy, but given our running backgrounds they agreed to let us do it. We were 1 of 4 Ultra teams amidst 80+ 12 man teams that signed up in 2005. It has been impressive to see how much this race, in particular, has changed every year, the exchanges were marked with a chair, a volunteer, an occasional cone, maybe a flash light at night 🙂
Most teams didn’t keep track of ‘kills’, simply because of the rarity of seeing another team on the road. When we did see other runners our focus was more on supporting them with what water or food we had. We had to really know our legs because there weren’t any road signs or ‘mile left to go’ markers. There weren’t any safety meetings or flag check in’s just a few simple rules like, having to write “Caution: Runners on Road,” on the rear window of our van because caution signs along the coarse were basically non-existent (We still do write that on our window each year for old time’s sake). We started up Logan Canyon in a small parking lot, where we would check in was at a table and chairs with a few other teams, then finished in small park near downtown Park City, decorated with a handful of banners.
Over the years the stories told in our vans went from what it used to be on trips at the University, to what it was like at the Ragnar the year before. Who ran the Avon the fastest or East Canyon, let alone the Ragnar hill. We have been able to place 1st in our division almost every year we have run! there was a time (10 years ago) we could run with the young fresh blood, but now we settle for wining the sub-master division and hope to carry on the the masters. We have quite the collection of batons and medals. Good times!
We have had tons of support since starting 10 yeas ago. First of all our families have been willing to let us go run for 2 days, then sleep for 2 more after the event. Also, we have a couple of team moms, one that lives in Morgan near exchange 16, we call her “Party Barb”! She stocks her house with Pizza, salads, and all kinds of treats, not to mention a warm shower! Another of our team Mom’s is a super star volunteer, Ruth Stoddard! The first year she volunteered as an individual and then was quickly moved to a Volunteer lead, where she not only worked the Wasatch Back but the Ragnar series asked her to go around the country with them. The Six Legged Freaks followed her down to Del Sol one year, as well as Las Vegas.
Over the years there have been more than 6 runners sub in and out of the lineup. Some have run with us once and decided ultra was not for them, others have run with us multiple times and have become pillars of the team. There are 3 who have run the Wasatch Back Relay all 10 years, Mike Strauss (the Freak that started it all), Phil Stoddard (Perennial MVP) and Travis Hildebrand (equipment master). Tom Porter started with us a year after we got going and is quickly approaching his 10th year.
It is entertaining to look back on the relationships that have been forged by being stuffed in a vehicle for 24hrs, with blisters, bad jokes, and way to much stank! The Wasatch Back has become more than a tradition to us, it has offered us an excuse to do what we love to do with those we love.