The Last Waltz

I have never loved an inanimate object as much as I love the American Odyssey Relay.  For ten years, I’ve lived and breathed this multi-faceted, incredible endeavor.  It has tested my will and brought me amazing friendships, all at the same time. It has given me an immense sense of pride and satisfaction.  And, it has caused me to shake my head in wonder more times than I can remember. So, you’d think that the thought of giving it up and moving on would bring great consternation and decidedly mixed emotions. But, it doesn’t.

The time is right. And, the transaction is right. I’ve had offers through the years from companies that wanted to buy the American Odyssey Relay, but I’ve never taken them seriously. I know it’s a silly cliché, but the American Odyssey Relay is more than a race. It’s, dare I say it? A family. We’ve had couples meet during the American Odyssey Relay, we’ve had marriage proposals during the American Odyssey Relay, and we’ve enjoyed learning that the reason a runner wasn’t going to join us in a particular year was because she was pregnant and her doctor forbade it.

In the decade that I’ve been directing the American Odyssey Relay, I’ve met people whose paths I never would have crossed, but for the race. We’ve shared life stories, favorite movies and Seinfeld episodes, and our love of music including songs from The Band and others in Last Waltz.  And, I’ve convinced many of those people to bring me fresh baked goods at the start of the relay to help me get through the race!

And, those kinds of things will continue, as the American Odyssey Relay completes its first decade and embarks upon its second ten years, because of the two women who are the new owners.  Many of you know Joanna Graham and Robin Lerner as the co-assistant race directors of the American Odyssey Relay from 2017.  All you need to do is to remove the word “assistant” from their titles.  Joanna has been involved with the American Odyssey for five-plus years as a runner, volunteer and assistant race director.  I’ve watched her grow into the role with the certainty that she can handle any of the curveballs the race might throw her.  And, her co-race director, Robin, has both the race-directing experience and the ebullient personality to succeed in a big way as well.  So, I am confident that Robin and Joanna, while making the American Odyssey Relay their own, will retain the “small town” feel of the race.  It will continue to be a “mom and pop” effort, with all of the good things that management style conjures up.

What about me? Glad you asked. For starters, I have a consulting agreement to help Robin and Joanna for the next year, to ease them through the transition process.  This isn’t the type of business where you can just hand off the keys and say “good luck.”  Besides, I want to make certain that the American Odyssey Relay continues to live up to your expectations long after I’m gone. Additionally, I went back to school (true story) and became certified as an executive leadership coach.  Long before I embarked upon the American Odyssey Relay, I practiced law and then was the CEO of a division of a Fortune 500 company. So, I’ve decided to put that experience and my American Odyssey Relay experience to use in my new coaching and consulting business called EPICOACH (  If you want to know what the name stands for, or just want to stay in touch, please email me at  I’d love to hear from you!

For those of you I might not see or hear from again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your ongoing support of the craziness that is the American Odyssey Relay. Thanks, too, for letting me be a small part of your lives. For those of you who plan to keep in touch, well, I’m thrilled, and will thank you personally as soon as I hear from you.

I wish you tail winds, clear skies and moderate temperatures as you run, and as you go through life.  It’s been my absolute pleasure to be your race director for the past decade!

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Comments 6

  1. Bob! ! Whilst we’ll all be very sad to see you go, big congratulations and best wishes ato your next adventure Thank you for many amazing years and abounding memories. Big hugs. -jason, TSD volunteer / runner.

    1. Thanks Jason, I will truly miss all of the Sweaty Dozen! We appreciate your support and help all these years!

  2. Dear Bob, Thank you for all the great experiences.
    Ambler Stampede team will miss you!
    Good luck on your future endeavors.

    1. Thanks Martina! Ambler Stampede is a big part of the Odyssey and will continue to be for many years, I’m sure. We appreciate your ongoing support.

  3. Agreed! Bob you’ve always handled this race like each person was a family member! You’ll definitely be missed but any runner understands goals and wanting to reach them! So much success to you in your new endeavors! The Pavement Princesses 👑 thank you!

    Jennifer Jones

  4. Hi everyone. I too wanted to say thank you for your support of the American Odyssey Relay. I will miss seeing you at team check in and at the other times we would bump into each other during the event.

    Joanna and Robin and their race production team will do great being in charge of the American Odyssey Relay. I look forward to collaborating with them as I continue in the race production business with my running events in the Reno-Tahoe area including the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay Run Adventure, the American Odyssey Relay’s sister relay.

    And don’t be surprised if the next time you are running the American Odyssey Relay I am running on a team right along side you.

    Happy running to all of you!

    Eric Lerude, Bob’s “partner in crime” as a co-founder, co-owner and co-race director of the American Odyssey Relay.

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