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What the Pegasus 41 Relay Was Really Like, According to Four Badass Women Running It

272.4 km, 22 hours, four teams, 41 runners: one truly epic race.

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What the Pegasus 41 Relay Was Really Like, According to Four Badass Women Running It

272.4 km, 22 hours, four teams, 41 runners: one truly epic race.

Picture this: 41 strangers from across the globe – China, Mexico, Los Angeles, Paris, South Korea, Berlin, you name it – gathered in a Greek amphitheater on Mount Helicon at midnight. Their mission: to race to Mount Olympus, over 270kms away, in under 22 hours. It almost sounds like a trailer for a film (or a wild reality TV show) but this scene of mythological proportions was a real event. To celebrate Global Running Day, Nike Running launched the new and improved (but ever-reliable) Pegasus 41 in the most epic relay race of all.

Overseeing the run of the show, Nike Running Coach Aaron explained the set-up to a rapt audience of runners, all raring to go. Team One he referred to as “the knights of the night.” They took on the early shift, led by the legend that is Paula Radcliffe, running in the pitch-black night. Taking over at 5 a.m., Team Two had to clear two mountains during their leg, making elevation their biggest challenge. Come 9 a.m., Team Three braved the blazing heat of midday, with scorching temperatures rising to almost 38 degrees. Finishing off the race, Team Four’s distance runners took on the final 90kms of the race, before becoming a team run for the final 1.8km where all 41 runners joined in to reach the finishing line as one.

 

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All runners were, of course, wearing the new Pegasus 41s for the relay. Known and celebrated for their reliable fit and overall comfortable ride, the latest version of the Pegasus really goes the extra mile. The new model features a full-length Nike ReactX foam midsole, which provides over 13% more energy return for the wearer. There’s Air Zoom units in the forefoot and heel, too, meaning your run is smoother and more energy-efficient. (ReactX is also engineered to cut down the carbon footprint of creating a pair of midsoles, so they are more sustainable that their predecessors also.)

Below, four badass runners share their experience of the epic relay race and what keeps them running in their own words.

Huyền Nguyễn

Nike, Nike Pegasus, Nike Running, Nike Relay

It’s funny because, I had met most of my Team 1 “teammates” before: James from Seoul, Najla from Milan, Coach Aaron from Berlin, and yes, even Paula Radcliffe. It felt special going through this journey together, with old and new running friends alike. This was my third relay. I’m grateful to have participated in Hood to Coast U.S. in 2017 and Hood to Coast Netherlands in 2019, both also with Nike. But this was my first time taking over from Paula Radcliffe! I did feel a bit of pressure running after the former women’s world record holder in the marathon. I was also nervous about running in the pitch dark, but I liked the challenge and think our team did incredible in setting the pace for the rest of the teams to come.

The run itself was hard, it felt like the longest 6km I ran in my life. I was dehydrated and forgot to bring my gel. In the middle of it, I almost spiralled into negative self-talk, but dug deep and found my way out of it again. So much of running is a mental game, but I also didn’t want to let the other 40 runners down, so thinking of the larger team, the sense of community really brought me back.

Nike, Nike Pegasus, Nike Running, Nike Relay

Community was something I kept thinking about, be it the 41 runners here, or my own run community in Berlin. I founded Joy Run Collective to help create more access to the sport and provide a safer space for female, non-binary & queer runners to start.  The quote “If you want to run fast, run alone, if you want to run far, run together” comes to mind. Running can be a team sport and I think, together, we can really push sports forward. Overall, I left with a full heart.

Lily Guevara

Nike, Nike Pegasus, Nike Running, Nike Relay

I’m quite the Type A person, but for some reason, when I’m running, I have a different personality: more of the Type B side of me shines through. I come from a track and field background (I’m a 200-400m sprinter and jumper) so you could say I’ve been running since I was in fourth grade. I only started running long distances in 2016, and ran my first marathon in 2018. This wasn’t my first relay, either; I’ve actually done The Speed Project (TSP) before. But despite that I was actually a little nervous going into the relay. I’m confident in my abilities, but I was putting a lot of pressure to hit a certain pace. A friend reminded me of why I do this and the joy I get from running, and that helped so much.

My team’s challenge was hills, and my leg was entirely uphill. It was tough, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! The team itself was incredible, too. I loved everyone. We all cheered and clapped every time someone finished their leg. The final 1.8km, when everyone was running together, was also uphill, but because we were together, I didn’t even feel it! We ran as a crew, as a team. It was beautiful. The townspeople were cheering us on as we passed the quaint streets. Honestly, it was an incredible event. I was in awe of the people I was surrounded by, and proud to represent Latinas.

Riley Hemson

Nike, Nike Pegasus, Nike Running, Nike Relay

I have to be honest, I’ve hated running my entire life. But six months ago I thought, I’m going to give this a go and start from scratch. I could only run 15 seconds at a time when I started, but now I’m addicted to the feeling of accomplishment and that keeps me running.

This was my first relay, so I was incredibly excited and equally nervous. My group had the hottest 60km of the race; a huge challenge with the beating hot sun and temperatures of above 35 degrees. I had the honor of taking the baton from Team Two and starting Team Three’s leg off. It was hands down the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. My body and mind were pushed to the absolute limits, especially during the 3km incline run and the punishing heat. The struggle was real. At one point, I even had to jump over a dead snake! But the bus itself had the most amazing energy, with everyone cheering each other on and a shared Spotify playlist filled with UK drill and rap – and T Swift, not going to lie.

The last leg was so surreal. While we had our own legs to run throughout the relay, it truly was a team effort in the end to come together and finish as a team. It was epic. I was feeling all sorts of emotions: pride, camaraderie, exhaustion, accomplishment. That’s 24 hours I’ll never forget!

Ines Pitchon

Nike, Nike Pegasus, Nike Running, Nike Relay

I’m a triple jumper but started in track and field from the age of four, so running has always been a part of my life. But it’s been my friends Moussar and Lourdès, who started [the popular Paris-based run club] Eight Lines a year ago that got me involved in [running in a whole] new way. What they do is so amazing, running through Paris with music all together. The sense of community they have created, and that this relay also had, is huge.

When we arrived in Greece and I found out that I was going to be the finisher I was like, ‘why me? Why did they choose me?’ But once the race started those nerves just melted away. Even when I learned that my team would also be doing the longest distances of the group. I remembered what I came here for and I just had fun. I’m not wearing a watch or trying for a specific pace, I just wanted to be in the moment.

 

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The first 4km I ran on my own and there was a moment when I was getting really tired. The final stretch was all uphill which didn’t help. But then I saw the group, and everyone was chanting my name, and one by one the other 40 runners joined me. That gave me the reboot I needed.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment of coming into the stadium and putting the baton into the podium. I’m so proud of me – of us!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

To read about another kickass athelete, check out our interview with Keely Hodgkinson here.

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