The past two weekends have been a whirlwind. Labor Day weekend we were driving the course through Alabama and Florida, finalizing transition areas and stopping at bike shops and running stores along the way. We did the same thing in Mississippi and New Orleans this past weekend. It’s been so awesome that everyone we meet is so friendly and so excited about the race and what we’re trying to do – celebrate the Gulf Coast. I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to some especially friendly folks.
Kate Bolton, Co-owner of Pro Cycle and Tri in Fairhope, AlabamaI first met Katie on July 28 this year when my friend Dana and I were in Pensacola to meet with the Santa Rosa Island Authority and the City of Pensacola. Katie and her husband own and run the shop, along with their dog Chip. The Santa Rosa Island Triathlon was hosting an event at the Grand Marlin, an awesome seafood place on the water. They had a registration event which included little mini expo and clinic where some pro athletes talked about tips and techniques. Pro Cycle and Tri is a sponsor of the triathlon, so Katie was there for the event. When I met her and told her about GCI Relay, she immediately volunteered to help out with a mechanic or two along the course and also offered to help with the route through Alabama, since she rides the area all the time. Katie came through in a big way when she sent me the Alabama portion of the route. I had the chance to drive it over Labor Day weekend and it is absolutely gorgeous. Really WIDE roads, wide shoulders and bike lanes, sidewalks the whole way and some beautiful scenery along the Gulf of Mexico and through quaint neighborhoods via the Scenic Alabama Byway. While on the road September 2, I stopped in and said hello to the trio to leave some materials and thank Katie for the route. If you live anywhere near Fairhope, you should definitely stop in and get a Retul 3D Dynamic Fitting – the most advanced bike fitting tool in the industry, whereby the exact biomechanics of your pedal stroke can be seen, analyzed, and any need for position change is quickly identified.
Paul Epstein, Co-owner of Running Wild in Pensacola, FL and Fairhope, ALI met Paul on Labor Day weekend also. Grammy, my grandmother, and I spent the day together on Sunday. I painted her kitchen (long story), we took a trip to Sam’s Club, to Gulf Breeze to visit my Uncle Charlie (Wood Sculptor and Owner of Palm Tiki) and Aunt Dorothy (Wood Sculptor in training), and then finally stopped by Running Wild to tell them about the relay. Grammy came in with me and asked for Paul immediately. She and Paul go way back from the days when Grammy and PopPop were the Race Directors of the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon. He came right out and spent 30 minutes with us, even though he was busy getting ready for an event the following evening. Spike night – they hosted one in Pensacola and one at the Fairhope location. It’s a night geared toward area high school cross country runners. The shop provides pizza and offers great discounts on shoes. The kids mingle with other kids in the area, get fitted for spikes, and pick up apparel to get ready for the upcoming season of cross country. Paul was excited about the relay, having pondered the idea of a relay from Fairhope to Pensacola before. He called his wife, Cherie and within a few minutes, they committed to not only spreading the word, but also to forming a Running Wild team for the inaugural GCI Relay! Paul also graciously offered up his garage of race day supplies, including cones, coolers and other stuff to help on relay race day. So much more than just an athletic shoe store, Running Wild really is complete endurance sport and lifestyle fitness resource. They offer training programs and host group runs and huge advocates for fun and fitness in the Gulf region.
Blake Gill, Marketing and PR for Massey’s Professional Outfitters – 4 locations in Louisiana
Blake and I exchanged a few messages on Facebook after I found the Massey’s Facebook page and sent them a note about the relay. He expressed interest right away and we planned to meet when I came to New Orleans. I was originally supposed to go over Labor Day weekend, but I ended up waiting a week to let everyone dry out and recover from the flooding that hurricane Isaac caused. I got to Massey’s late Saturday afternoon, September 1. As soon as I walked in, this guy walked up to me and asked if he could help me. I said, “Yes, hi, my name is Sarah.” Before I could say anything else, he looked at the postcards in my hands and exclaimed, “GCI Relay?! That’s you?” And I said, “Yes, that’s me!” Without another word, he lunged forward and hugged me! So cool! His name is Shane – he’s a doctor by day and works at Massey’s in his “free time” since he is a fellow freak for athletics and the outdoors. He will be on a cycling team for the relay! Shane and I chatted for a bit and then he called Blake, who was just right around the corner doing yard work at the new house he and his wife just bought. Blake and I went up to the office and talked about the relay and brainstormed creative ways for Massey’s to help promote and be involved. Massey’s will be putting together both cycling team and a running team. Visit one of their 4 locations if you are in the area and look for cool race day raffles and giveaways, courtesy of Massey’s Professional Outfitters!