“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” In this case, it may not be a “Star Trek,” but it is certainly a unique trek of 180 miles from El Paso to New Mexico in what is considered a one-of-a-kind USA Track and Field-sanctioned foot race across two states, officials announced at a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 28.
The inaugural Spaceport America Relay Race on April 8-9 will feature teams of 12 runners in 36 different race legs, ranging from 2 to 13.2 miles each, during day and night, starting at the El Paso County Coliseum and finishing at Spaceport America.
Brian Kennedy, CEO and president of the El Paso Sports Commission, which oversees the Coliseum, will be joined by Spaceport America CEO Daniel Hicks to officially kick off the race at the Coliseum, located at 4100 E. Paisano, which has been designated as the official starting point.
“It’s amazing to be part of such a unique venture with Spaceport America,” Kennedy said. “The event will give runners a unique route that will highlight the beautiful culture and landscaping of El Paso and New Mexico. And for the historic El Paso County Coliseum to be part of this special collaboration is incredible.”
“The Spaceport America Relay Race is a fun, inclusive race event designed to appeal to everyone, from amateur runners to seasoned athletes,” Hicks said.
Traveling from El Paso along the historic Rio Grande valley, teams will make their way north into New Mexico along the El Camino de Tierra Adentro Trail through Doña Ana County and villages such as La Union, Chamberino, Vado and Mesilla, and, of course, Las Cruces.
As day turns to night, teams will run under a full moon through towns such as Rincon and Hatch, and into Sierra County and the towns of Arrey and Truth or Consequences.
As the sun rises in the beautiful desert surrounding the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport that is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range, teams will continue to conquer the open-road course on Day 2.
The final runners will run along the actual two-mile Spaceway at Spaceport America and cross the finish line on the Gateway to Space apron in front of Virgin Galactic’s futuristic Terminal Hangar Facility, where teams will celebrate at a special after-party.
Beth Moses, Virgin Atlantic’s chief astronaut instructor, will be the guest speaker at the finish line. Moses joined Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, after working at NASA, where she served as the spacewalk system manager for the International Space Station, designing the hardware used by spacewalkers to construct the ISS in orbit.
Moses also will compete in the race.
Registration is now underway. The cost is $1,320 per 12-person team ($1,560 for VIP team); $840 per 6-person team ($900 for VIP team); and $1,500 per corporate team. Spectator tickets will cost $5 and $10.