1000 Teams. 197 Miles. 36 Legs. 12 Runners. 2 Vans.
The 29th Annual Hood to Coast Relay.
The Mother of All Relays.
Check out the preview to Hood to Coast - the Movie.
The Hood to Coast Relay is one of the oldest and longest point-to-point running relays in North America and one of the largest in terms of total participation out there. I’ve heard of it – Sarah, our mighty Clear Water Outdoor CEO has run it – and I have always wanted to see what this “running Woodstock” hype is all about.
Kouba, Brooke, and I were out for our regular Sunday run two weeks ago. Kouba mentioned they were short two runners on her Hood to Coast Relay team (she’s run it 9 times). It didn’t sink in right away, but later that morning, Brooke and I were anxiously waiting to hear if the spots were still empty.
Friday – August 27
The Start Line - I drew the number for Leg 1. I get to start the Hood to Coast Relay for our team – the Village Idiots. Start time – 3pm. Leg 1 – a killer quad buster straight downhill, 5.64 miles and 2000 feet of elevation drop on asphalt. I’ve heard mostly horror stories of runners going all out and blowing out their legs for the remainder of the race, so I go slow and steady. The vans were in non-stop motion going up and down the mountain (the first teams started at 6:30am and start every 15 minutes until 6:30pm), brakes and engines were stinking, but the views down Mt. Hood were amazing, and almost every van going by had me smiling. Soon enough, the exchange point was right ahead of me and Brooke was waiting to grab my bracelet to start her leg. Leg 1 – done. Hop in the VW van and on to the next exchange.
Laura at the Start
Each van has six runners. Each runner runs one leg (average about 5 miles), hands off the bracelet, and hops in the van and off to the next exchange. After all six runners have completed their legs, we meet the second van at a major exchange point, hand off to them, and we have about four or five hours to eat, sleep, and drive to the next major exchange point. We do this three times and it goes on for the next 27 hours - leapfrogging runners and leapfrogging vans until all 36 legs of the relay have been completed.
The line up of vans at an exchange point. Trying to get some sleep in the van.
A middle-of-the-night exchange - volunteers yell out team numbers as
runners are finishing so you can find your team mate.
The three legs I ran:
Leg 13 (1am in downtown Portland)
Leg 27 (out of order because of the broken down van)
The Village Idoits made it to Seaside 27 hours later, around 6:30pm on Saturday. The twelve of us finished 302nd overall, even with a broken down van that had to be ditched on the side of the road (yes, the trusty VW broke down).
The Finish Line at Seaside Kouba, Laura, Brooke
Overall – Hood to Coast rocked. Of course, there are those dark moments when you think, why the heck am I doing this? (when your van breaks down, and you’re stuck for four hours in the middle of nowhere = no bathroom, or when you realize you’ve maybe had 45 minutes of sleep in 24 hours, or when the stomach and leg cramps hit, or dreading that 7 hour drive back to Southern Oregon with stiff and sore legs). But then the bright and shiny moments outweigh any thoughts of doubt. The goofy conversations people have on no sleep, the crazy vans and costumes (Go-Nads, Red Dress Express, Buns of Glory, just to name a few), the feeling of accomplishing something crazy, and of course, that glorious pint of ale waiting at the finish line on the beach. And super bonus – this year, Hood to Coast raised $500,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Now, back to those long runs gearing up for the San Francisco Marathon.