I dropped a note the other day to someone with whom I hadn’t run in a while about joining me for WSSAC’s Saturday run, but he begged off as he was headed down to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. His daughter was running lead-off for Bronxville’s distance medley relay, which is a 1200, 400, 800, and 1600.

The Penn Relays is a massive carnival, including scores of mile (now 4X400) high school relays on Saturday. I ran Penn once, as a senior in high school. It was memorable. I tripped as I ran down the backstraight as I was anchoring our mile relay. I recall having a James-Stewart-in-Vertigo moment on the unusual configuration and going down when I hit the rail on the inside lane (the only time I went down on a track). I got up with a newly-cleared head, passed a bunch of people, and I think we finished third — I got a medal I know — but it was not a glorious appearance.

You can get some sense of the event at Flotrack, with this the link to the aforementioned high school DMR, although Bronxville did not do so well. I’ve run, though, with the fathers of two of the kids and my orthopedist is the father of a third. As to feeling old, the team couldn’t include one of its best girls. She’s run a 5:01 1600 (faster than I can) but she’s only in eighth grade.

The comraderie of a relay team, of the trip out of town to race against a bunch of kids on similar adventures, is one of the great experiences of running. After these relays, the focus is on individual events, although meets always have (as do the Olympics) a 4 X 100 and 4 X 400.

It’s a comraderie duplicated by running with a club (and I’m pleased that we had an extra pair of legs in this morning’s Central Park run) and by running a road relay. In both cases, it’s intra- and inter-, i.e., each team shares the experience with each other team. Solipsistic as running is, being physically part of a greater thing is a way to enhance enjoyment of the sport. It need not be physical, as I found with the recent posts of people whose trials I follow on their blogs. (Speaking of blogs, I limit my must-read list not because they are the best blogs out there but because I enjoy reading of their trials and triumphs. I found this blog removed from someone else’s site, which takes the all-encompassing approach. It reminded me of the story of the starlet in the old studio days, stuck in an awful movie. “Who do I have to fuck to get off of this picture?” she is said to have asked.)