The Last Waltz

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I have never loved an inanimate object as much as I love the American Odyssey Relay.  For 10 years, I’ve lived and breathed this multi-faceted, incredible endeavor.  It has tested my will and brought me amazing friendships 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 one 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 other rock groups in “The 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 10 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 now 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 (www.epi.coach.).  If you want to know what the name stands for, or just want to stay in touch, please email me at bob@epi.coach.  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 journey through life.  It’s been my absolute pleasure to be your race director for the past decade!

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