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Posted 1/9/2013

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By Tom Black
Detroit District Public Affairs Office

Teamwork is important in the workplace, and essential in a relay race.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, five Detroit District employees teamed up for a relay race at the 35th annual Detroit Free Press / Talmer Bank Marathon.

Finishing 94th out of 545 relay teams were Jim Tapp, chief, Operations & Technical Services; Bridget Rohn, biologist, Environmental Analysis Branch; Michael Herbon, civil engineer – construction, Detroit Arsenal Resident Office; Renee Thomas, civil engineer, Engineering & Technical Services; and Josh Hachey, mechanical engineer, Contract Administration.

As dawn broke, thousands of runners gathered in the cool air for the 7 a.m. start at Fort and Second streets.
“I was floored by the number of people,” said Rohn, who ran the first leg of the race. “I knew there was a high participation rate, but the starting line was crazy – a sea of people as far as you could see.”

Rohn said her spirits were buoyed by a “gorgeous” sunrise as she ran across the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario on the first leg of the race. The sun stuck around for what would be a beautiful fall day with temperatures in the 60s.

Enthusiastic spectators displayed hand-made signs and provided musical entertainment along the way, making the race more enjoyable, Rohn said. Hachey took over for the second leg, joining the throng of runners in returning to the U.S. through the Windsor Tunnel.

The route headed west into Mexicantown, then east through Corktown. Herbon’s portion included running by the McNamara Building, then continuing east through Campus Martius and into Indian Village. Then Tapp took over, crossing the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle for a loop route and returning to the mainland. Thomas ran the final portion, heading west to the finish line at Fort and Second streets.

“Residents were very friendly in Indian Village,” Herbon said, noting many of them handed out sports drinks. Herbon finished his 6.7-mile section in 52 minutes, 36 seconds. “I beat my goal of 8 minutes per mile by about 10 seconds per mile,” he said.

Race participants each attached a tiny computer chip to their shoe laces to record their times. Electronic mats at the beginning and end of each race segment activate the chip, which collects and processes results for each runner.

Such precision is especially important in an event involving thousands of competitors, Thomas explained, since it can take a half hour or longer for runners to reach the starting line after the starting gun sounds.
All of the participants said they had a good time. “It was really fun and we’re going to try and do it again next year,” Thomas said.

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