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The Speed Project 3.0

150 runners from around the globe participate in a insane non-stop relay from Santa Monica to Las Vegas.

Story by Good Sport April 5th, 2017


On March 10th at 5:00am PST, more than 150 runners embarked on an annual 340-mile relay race from the Santa Monica Pier to the Las Vegas Strip entitled The Speed Project. Now, completing its third year, this ultra-endurance race is designed to test the runners’ physical and mental limits as they battle unpredictable climate and terrain. Last year, the winning team established a course record of 36:53:00 and was beat by the same team this year with an insane time of 36:20:33.

The Speed Project is a direct response to the corporatization of running relays and races and so of course Good Sport was there this year to experience and support it in full. We spoke to four runners from different crews before the race to find out what it all means. (Megan Erspamer, Andrew Thuss, Troels Frederiksen & Becs Gentry).

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Megan Erspamer

Explain The Speed Project in one sentence.

A team running experience from LA to Vegas that can’t truly be told; it must be lived.

What does The Speed Project mean to you?

The Speed Project is about how fast can you run over and over again, and again and again!

What I think is super cool is that it’s not just a question of speed or endurance, it’s true speed endurance. How close to your marathon pace can you maintain for 60 miles? Having raced TSP 2.0 last year, this experience really expanded my boundaries of what I thought I was capable of.

Ahead of time, I was thinking, “Okay…about 60 miles, 3-6 miles at a time with 3 or less hours of recovery in-between…” You calculate in your head what pace you think you maintain. It turns out, the human body is incredible, and you can run way faster, and for longer than you think.

One of my favorite quotes: “You’re better than you think you are; you can do more than you think you can.” (Ken Choulber- founder of Leadville Trail 100)

And even more important is your team. You live in an RV with your teammates, driver, and crew members for two days, and afterwards- you’re family. There is something about suffering together for that long through the heat of the desert that just bonds you.

Soundtrack for your crew consists of?

It will be a pretty eclectic mix. Though, “Let’s Go” by Trick Daddy will be on it for sure! That’s my jam.

Pre-race preparation? How you taper, how you meditate, what you eat etc?

I try to get as much sleep as possible and listen to my body in terms of mileage. At this point, all the hard work is in the bank, and what I choose to do is more or less to maintain and build my mental confidence. Nutrition and eating well is always important to me, so I just keep on keeping on with the eating and try not to switch anything up.

What essential items apart from the obvious do you bring with you?

Nike Recovery Tights to slip on in-between runs. A small, hand-held water bottle for sections that the bike can’t come with. Shots of turmeric and lemon – it’s super super refreshing when I don’t feel like eating anything and helpful for muscle recovery.

What are your fears for this race? And how to you tear them down.

I honestly don’t have any fears about the race, just a lot of excitement for the adventure ahead! I think having already ran TSP last year gives me confidence in myself and my teammates for what we can do out there.

What starts hurting first?

I don’t remember! I think runners tend to forget the pain once it’s over, and it doesn’t come back to you until you’re back in it again. I have no doubts that I’ll find myself asking myself, “Wait, why did I do this again?!” Then it’s over, and I'm stoked. Set sights on the next crazy thing. The cycle repeats. It’s a love for type 2 fun.

Post-race: Who parties hardest?

We shall find out! Our team has only met via Google Hangout, so it will be fun to see everyone’s personalities come to life during the race, and then see if/how that shifts post-race! I’d be willing to bet that I take the crown for hard-core sleeper.

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Andrew Thuss

Explain The Speed Project in one sentence

Simultaneously the most insane, painful and beautiful race you can experience with a connected group of friends.

What does The Speed Project mean to you?

Every race is a test that you take with yourself – constantly figuring out how you as an individual can perform against your own standards. The Speed Project has that mental test just like every other race but baked into that, is the fact that everything you do directly affects the team. That’s the deeper connection that I love and no other race has.

Soundtrack for your crew consists of?

We are a mix bag of classic 90’s hip-hop, country and of course last year’s Manic RC TSP 2.0 anthem – Flo Rida “Welcome to my House”. We’ll have to wait and see what track emerges this year.

Pre-race preparations?

Having the benefit of experience from last year we know exactly what we need and are able to plan much more effectively. Sleep is everything so our pre-race prep is going to hopefully be much more organised and a lot more sleep than last year.

In terms of tapering we lowered our runs from 2 and 3 a days to single runs but enough mileage to keep the legs warm.

What essential items apart from the obvious do you bring with you?

Anyone that’s raced in a multi–stage relay knows that pre-packing your gear in ziplock bags is essential but Death Valley in the middle of the day is a whole other beast. We found that soaking face towels in water and eucalyptus oil and then keeping them in the fridge was a perfect after run item and allowed runners to cool down quickly and the oil helped with the smell in the RV.

What are your fears for this race? And how to you tear them down.

Letting the team down is by far the biggest fear. I feel like this race makes you flirt with that redline; just to get every ounce of performance out on each leg but you run the risk of blowing up.

If you blow up you automatically make it harder for your team.

I tear that down by really listening to my body and concentrating much harder on that than I normally would. I’m also more prepared this year and doubled my training miles from last year to this year.

What starts hurting first?

Quads and calves for me, it’s really hard to keep them loose on the downtime in between legs.

Other crews/ other runners: Who are you excited to connect with?

Our crew is really excited to see so many runners from the Global Nike+ Run Club community taking part with various teams like Kraft Runners and the LA Rebels.

Post-race: Who parties hardest?

To borrow the motto of the NBRO Runners in Copenhagen “Run, Party, Repeat” is something that we very much abide by.

Not to brag but we did end up hosting the pool party after party, have some of the fastest shotgunning Alberta beer drinkers for crew and will have most likely challenge for a post race beer mile on the strip.


Troels Frederiksen

What does The Speed Project mean to you?

It's a way of setting my soul free and experience a different kind of race.

Soundtrack for your crew consists of?

Basically a mix of watch the throne, beach boys and 2pac

Pre-race preparation?

Don't really believe in taper, so just staying loose, played some basketball, ate in'n'out burger and jack in the box and went for beers the night before the race.

What essentials items apart from the obvious do you bring with you?

My lucky Stance 2pac socks

What are your fears for this race? And how to you tear them down.

Don't really have any fears when it comes the race. I have full trust in my WOLFPACK team!

What starts hurting first?


Post-race: Who parties hardest?

WOLFPACK! #runpartyrepeat is the best way to loosen up post race.

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Becs Gentry

Explain The Speed Project in one sentence

An intense, demanding, teamwork focused relay running race of 341 miles from Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

What does The Speed Project mean to you?

6 runners and their crew working together to support, motivate and succeed through highs, lows and extreme mental and physical challenge. It created memories I am humbled to have been privileged to create with amazing people. It proved a great deal to me about myself in ways beyond physical exertion.

Soundtrack for your crew consists of?

Kanye West - Stronger, 50 Cent - PIMP, KiD CuDi - Pursuit of Happiness, Will Smith - Getting' Jiggy With It, and lots of cheesy 90s pop tunes!

Pre-race preparation?

Pre-race training was a gradual increase in insanity!

My mileage was amped up right from New Years Day. My coach and teammate Blue, ensured that training peaked around the race so we were in top physical condition. We had two speed training sessions per week, smashing out fast 100m/200m sprints with equal distance recovery fro 20+ repetitions, we did distance tempo runs and long long long runs with speed play incorporated. Recovery runs were not just a simple 5km either, it was maintaining marathon pace and keeping the legs ticking over at a new faster yet comfortable pace. Along with running, I ensured I was lifting weights and maintaining strength in my body with at least 2 strength sessions per week.

As you can imagine, the fuel for all this was hard to get my head around. initially I dropped a lot of weight, as long distance hard fast runs tend to wipe of appetite out and I was not fuelling correctly taking into consideration the output. Once I reset my mind and ensured even if I couldn't stomach meals after training I would have a calorie and nutrient dense, protein shake made with almond milk. My meals were fuel, but health clean fuel 80% of the time, the rest I did indulge in treats and always a glass of red wine!!

Down time outside of training and work was spent mostly sleeping or resting in compression, I can't say I was massive on the socialising as the tiredness took over around 9pm most days if i wasn't still at work!!

Tapering was not really a planned thing for me, I used my travel days to LA as time off running but it was a toll on the body. We had a good shakeout run on the Wednesday and then Thursday I walked around your sunny city for around 3 hours!

What essentials items apart from the obvious do you bring with you?

I have this odd matchy matchy element to my wardrobe when I run: call it control perhaps. I love the Nike Volt colour (thats bright luminous yellow basically) so coordinating my trainers, socks, bra, etc was a key packing element.

My PowerBeats3 headphones were essential.

Haribo sweets too!!

I also love Pukka Clean Greens - this brand is big here in London and their sachets of freeze dried greens get me through busy life in the city so between a few legs I was would add a sachet to a bottle of water.

And Nike Tech pants and hoodie and the Nike compression socks for resting in between legs and keeping warm

What were your fears for this race? And how did you tear them down.

Not being fast enough on every leg. My teammates were there this year to defend the insane title they made in 2016 and as the only new member of the team I did not want to let them down. Every leg, when it hurt to start and I would hear that demon creeping into my mind I would focus on my training and reinforce positivity in myself as I knew I had put in the hard work, I could run the times and I was there to do it for them.

What starts hurting first?

My calves. Propelling up inclines on tired legs and trying to keep pushing the pace made my calves want to blow out. We were so lucky to have the genius Dr Wade on our RV as part of our crew, he seriously looked after our bodies between legs, massaging and treating our aches and pains getting us ready to bounce out the door each time.

Other crews/ other runners: Tell us a story about someone who is entering

There was a last-minute team put together including one of the Nike pacers I work with in London John Hanlon. He is a reliable and consistent runner and ended up running a great deal of the distance within his team. He knows how to run, how to smile and how to access speed all at the right times.

Post-race: Who parties hardest?

Again John!!! He was so proud of his achievements, and rightly so, he even got Nils and I to -share- a shot (that was a hard thing to do!!)

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Footnote: All photographs by Christian Brecheis, Devin Lamoreaux, Ron Holden & Philip Dauria
Las Vegas, NV, United States