Hood to Coast: The Mother of All Relays

I recently participated in Hood to Coast and had a blast!

Our first runners started at the base of Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning, and all twelve of us ran the final 30 feet to the finish line at Seaside, Oregon, on the beach at around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

I’m in Van #2, which meant that my team of 6 started a little later on Friday.  My first leg was at around 2:30 p.m. and it was nearly 7 miles through a section of the Springwater Corridor.  It was quite flat with a slight downhill, which I found easy to traverse.

My team mates and I in Van #2 finished our first legs at around 6:00 p.m., and we headed to our van captain’s parents’ house in Council Crest where her parents opened up their home to us.  We enjoyed hot showers, amazing hosts, and a leisurely dinner before getting/attempting to get some shuteye before the next round.  We had to leave by 9:30 p.m. in order to make it to the next van exchange in St. Helens, Oregon.

My second run was at around midnight on Saturday morning.  It was 5 miles on a gravel road in pitch darkness, with only the occasional car passing by and a small headlamp providing much-needed illumination of the road ahead.  I had to fight off imagined scenes from the Blair Witch Project during my run.

We had a bit of a hiccup at the next van exchange near Mist, Oregon (a.k.a. “the middle of nowhere”) when Van #1 failed to show up at the designated time.  (We blame poor cell reception, an absence of two-way walkie-talkies, and Van #1 oversleeping.)  I had the distinct pleasure of giving the last runner of our van the bad news that his replacement runner was not there yet.  “Shit,” was all he said after running his own dark 5-miler.  Thankfully, the first runner of Van #1 appeared at the runners’ exchange chute within 5 minutes.  She apologized and was clearly disoriented when she started to run in the opposite direction!  “Sorry,” she muttered, “I’m not awake yet.”  This gave us in Van #2 something to chuckle about for a while.

While our cohorts in the other van were running their legs, we drove to the final van exchange outside of Astoria, Oregon (a.k.a. “the middle of nowhere: part 2”) for another shot at respite. Sleeping under the stars turned into a feeling of being constantly spritzed in the face, as three of us slept/attempted to doze in sleeping bags in the lingering mist.  The ground was hard and lumpy and it was all I could do to find a comfortable position.  (The other three were lucky/unlucky enough to have to sleep inside the van.)  An hour-and-a-half was all I could muster while sleeping on a (petrified) cloud.

This is why I don’t enjoy camping.

I woke up with a definite concern. It might have been a combination of not sleeping correctly or the strain of the first two legs, but my right ankle hurt badly. I tried icing it down and taking some Ibuprofen before running my final leg– a nearly 8-miler on rolling hills.  Another runner in our van offered to exchange legs with me– his was just a little over 4 miles– but I refused.  I told my van mates that I was going to run last leg no matter what but to check on me after the first three miles.

The first few minutes of my final leg were brutal and I was nearly fast-walking instead of running.  I kept thinking how foolish it was to allow my pride to take me over, refusing the offer of having someone else run my leg.  But, as I got into the run– and adrenaline (and possibly the Ibuprofen) kicked in– I barely noticed the painful ankle and started running at my normal 7½-to-8-minute-mile pace.  Seeing my team mates at the three-mile mark– and their gifts of bottled water and a Shot Blok— was a sight for sore, um, ankles, and gave me a much-needed energy boost.  Seeing them again (unexpectedly) at the six-mile mark was also a welcome reprieve.  I finished my leg– under time– and gladly handed the wristband (a.k.a. “the baton”) over to the next runner.

I was done!  I’d run Hood-to-Coast 2009!  Now, it was up to the remaining three runners to get us to the beach!

I remember saying after my first HTC experience that I will never do it again.  This marked my fifth time doing the “Mother of All Relays,” and I’m looking forward to the next!


2 Responses to “Hood to Coast: The Mother of All Relays”

  1. 1 smysore September 10, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Cool, congratulations!! Is there also a bicycling event? I think few colleagues signed up for that.

  2. 2 jonsquared September 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks! So, the HTC does not have a bicycling counterpart so your colleagues may have been here for a different event.

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