Northern Ontario runner crosses Death Valley in grueling relay race

A Sudbury, Ont. runner finished what he calls “the adventure of a lifetime” by participating in a secretive race from Santa Monica, Calif. to Las Vegas, Nev.Kris Cacciotti completed the 540-kilometre Speed Project relay with a team of six runners, each taking turns running as the others followed in an RV.”I just instantly wanted to be a part of it,” Cacciotti said.”It’s such a challenge and such an adventure, and the team relay part of it is what really drew me.”The Speed Project has no official website, nor an official route. However, Cacciotti said there is an established main route, which takes runners from the Santa Monica Pier to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, passing through scorching desert heat in Death Valley National Park.But runners can take any other route between both points as long as they don’t run along an interstate highway.The Speed Project race starts at the Santa Monica Pier. Runners can then take the route of their choice to get to the finish line, at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. (Submitted by Kris Cacciotti)For his part, Cacciotti ran around 87 kilometres, generally covering 11 kilometres each leg.He said the mental challenges were more significant than the physical difficulty of the race.”You’re not eating optimal food, you are tired because you’re running every two to four hours depending on how long the legs are, you’re in this RV, you have seven other people that are in very close quarters to you.”During the long run, he said his team had to deal with the desert heat, rain, sun and even snow.Cacciotti said they also had to avoid dogs and there were some “unhinged drivers” who tried to run them off the road.He said he only knew one of the other runners before joining the team, but they became family to him after the race.Now that he’s completed the Speed Project, Cacciotti says he has more challenges on the horizon, including a CrossFit competition in June and race in Mattawa, Ont. later in the summer.

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