Date and time: Friday and Saturday August 22-23, 2014
Events and cost: Hood to Coast relay (197 miles); Portland to Coast Walk Relay; Portland to Coast High School Challenge
Location: Timberline Lodge (Mt. Hood, OR) to Seaside, OR
Number of teams: 1,050 teams (each team has 8-12 runners)
Beneficiary: Optional fundraising for Providence Cancer Center.
Known as "The Mother of All Relays", HTC is the largest relay in the world, hosting a capped team limit for the past 23 years, and has filled on "Opening Day" of registration for the past 16 years! There are 1,050 teams. HTC is also the longestrunning relay event in Oregon and hosts the largest beach party on the west coast!
Course: A complete course map is available here.
The race: Running a relay is definitely one of those bucket-list running experiences, particularly Hood to Coast, aka "The Mother of All Relays." It's crazy and exhausting and exhilarating and somehow, fun! The very first year I ran Hood to Coast was kind of a fluke, and I didn't think I would even like it. And here I am, five years later, telling you it might kind of change your whole life.
The essence of Hood to Coast is: running, crazy van-mates, barely sleeping, lots of driving, stinky portapotties, getting stuck in traffic on your way to an exchange, and eating a gazillion Clif bars. It can be difficult for runners to understand if they've never experienced it, and it can be really REALLY difficult for non-runners to understand. Why do you do it? For the fun. To prove to yourself that you can.
I originally hadn't planned on running Hood to Coast this year. I had already run it the previous four years, and had already run Ragnar Relay (NW Passage) this summer. Doing another relay would be too expensive. But my friend Wendi from Solemates said their team needed another runner and said that most of the costs had been covered. So I ended up doing Hood to Coast for the fifth time.
This year, I was in van 1 as runner 4. I was pretty nervous to be in a van with mostly strangers but we ended up having tons of fun together. I was also glad that I ended up running one of the shortest and easiest sets of legs!!
We arrived at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in time to have our safety gear checked and take some pictures before Tiah started at 2:00, a somewhat late start time (7.5 hours after the first wave of teams had started). My first leg was mostly downhill and very hot through Sandy, OR. (7.18mi "moderate"; 59:02; 8:12 pace).
After our first set of legs, we came back to our teammate's houses to shower, eat (and have a beer) and rest up before we hit the road again around 10:30pm to meet up at the major exchange. I think I slept most of the time in the van until my next leg... Curled over sideways on my pillow on the seat next to me with my Goretex blanket. I started my second leg, leg 16 (3.78mi "easy"; 31:25; 8:16 pace) around 2am. It was nice and short and cool, so I had a good time cranking out the miles.
After we completed our second set of legs is when things kind of became a s**tshow. I was partially asleep the whole time. We were supposed to end up at the Grange to shower and eat and sleep (I didn't bring much food because I had planned on warm pancakes). Due to some sort of traffic/H2C fiasco, we didn't end up there. And the traffic issues continued to be nearly constant for the remainder of the race.
I started my final leg at 10 am (4.2mi "easy", 9:14 pace). It was a constant gradual uphill run, my legs were tired, and it was warm. My pace tanked as I got farther into my run. Even though it had been less than two days, my body was worn out, and I was so glad when it was finally over!
After Van 1 finished our last set of legs, we headed to the beach to get showered at a condo and wait for Van 2 to arrive. OMG that shower felt SOOOO GOOD. And clean clothes!!!
At 5:45, our entire team was assembled and we waited a long while for the announcer to call out our team name and number so we could cross the finish line together and receive our medals. Unlike prior years, team photos were optional and in a separate area. It was kind of anti-climactic to wait so long to just symbolically cross the finish line as a team. H2C is a large event, but I think the finish line process could definitely use some streamlining, and the traffic issues along the course are just ridiculous.
Post-race: After we all crossed the finish line together as a team, we hung out in the beer garden for a little bit. It was nice to see friends from other teams! Some of my van stayed the night, but I had to head back to do Mt. Tabor Doggie Dash 5k the following morning.
Results: Our team finished in 28:43:01, which is an 8:40 average pace! We were 320th overall. We all ran hard and I'm so proud of our team for doing so well :) We had such a blast, and I loved seeing everyone celebrating each others' runs. I would love to be a part of the Solemates team again for another relay, but I just don't know if I want that relay to be Hood to Coast. I want to love Hood to Coast but I just think that there are too many teams on the course.