Ambassador’s Angle: I’m Excited! by Dan Coombes

coombes blog 2 cropI’m excited to have the opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts about the American Odyssey Relay on this blog!  I’ve been a participant and team captain since the first Odyssey in 2009.  It is, without a doubt, my favorite race.  I have thoroughly enjoyed everything about it for the past seven years and I plan to participate as long as I am able.  I’m also proud to serve as an ambassador for the race and this is my fourth year doing so.  In this role I get to spread the word far and wide about this great event.  Being an ambassador generally involves getting people excited about the Odyssey through activities ranging from handing out promo cards to posting on social media to hosting “Relay 101” sessions at local running stores.  So even if you don’t read beyond this point, please know that you can reach out to me anytime if you have questions about the Odyssey.  Just e-mail me at dpcoombes@gmail.com.

I’m excited about running!  I started running when I joined my high school cross country team in the early ‘80s.  Looking back, I realize that I always enjoyed the practices more than the meets, mostly because of the camaraderie with my teammates.  Over the years, I have run countless races, including sixteen marathons (six different ones), numerous shorter races and a couple of other relays.  I’ve completed races in ten states and three countries.  For me, they all pale in comparison to the American Odyssey. Sure, the course is beautiful and historic – it was designed for runners based on input from local runners – but it’s not just the design of the course that makes the Odyssey different.  It’s a fun race, organized and staffed by fun people, most of whom are runners themselves.  From Race Director Bob and his staff to the many dedicated volunteers and the supportive local communities, everyone involved makes the runners feel welcome and safe all along the course.

I’m excited about relays!  I ran my first relay in 1993 while stationed with the Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan.  It was a 24-hour race on a local high school track.  Teams had ten runners; each of us ran one-mile legs consecutively until time expired.  I really had fun with my team and spent twenty-five years looking for a similar race.  I don’t remember how I found out about the inaugural American Odyssey Relay but I immediately set about recruiting my team.  After twenty-five years of waiting, there was no way I was going to miss out!  My excitement for the Odyssey has only increased over the years.  Running is usually a solitary effort.  Relays have that but they also offer so much more.  The American Odyssey Relay is way more fun than other races because you get a lot of down time to socialize with other runners, both teammates and competitors. And although there are prizes for winning each of the various categories, all competition here is friendly.  I’ve made many friends over my years of participation in the Odyssey and I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t have a great time.

I’m excited that my company, Leidos, is returning for our sixth year as a sponsor of the American Odyssey Relay!  Officially, we sponsor the Commander’s Cup, which is awarded to the fastest military team.  I had a small part in getting the sponsorship started and I’m happy to continue the coordination to make it happen.  I’ve always had co-workers on my Odyssey teams.  Our CEO even ran with us last year!  My company, like the Odyssey staff, is proud to be part of the fabric of our local communities.

I’m excited about the American Odyssey Relay!  Can you tell?  What gets YOU excited about the Odyssey?

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