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Ask Marilyn: Why Do We Keep Forgetting Our Relay Runner?
Hailey Shaughnessy of Sarasota, Florida, writes:
Marilyn: My husband is on a running team that does a relay run. They run from Miami to Key West. The team has twelve members; each member runs three legs. All the van #1 runners do their first leg; then all van #2 runners run their first leg. Then it's back to van #1, etc.
Six runners are in van #1, and six are in van #2. For the past three years, van #1 has either forgotten a runner or missed the pick-up point for a runner. Van #2 has never missed a pick-up etc. Each year van #1 has stranded the same runner, Heather. We're wondering: What are the odds that Heather would have been the stranded runner three years in a row? Should she start taking it personally? The math makes my head hurt, so we were hoping you could help out.
Hmm. I don't think the laws of chance apply here! (I also wonder how you can strand a runner in a relay race, but I'll take your word for it.) Yet I don't think Heather should take it personally. Instead, she stick a big reminder sign a la REMEMBER HEATHER on the dashboard when she gets out of the van. Those people need the help!