Hood to Coast Relay Recap!

I’m super excited to share my Hood to Coast race recap with you guys today! As I write this, I’m recuperating from the weekend and going back through all my pictures has almost erased the extreme soreness I’m feeling today!

First off, let me try to explain (in as few words as possible) the logistics of the race. The Hood to Coast race starts at Mt. Hood and goes 198 miles to the Oregon coast finishing at Seaside. It’s a relay race involving 1,050 teams with each team having 12 members. There are three legs of the race each consisting of 12 checkpoints. There were a total of 36 checkpoints. Each runner on the team runs one time per leg (for a total of 3 runs). Each runner was assigned a designated running position ranging from 1 to 12. Teams had two vans, van 1 had runners 1 – 6 and van 2 had runners 7 – 12. The first 6 runners would run their legs then meet up with van 2 at an exchange point to hand off the baton to the second half of runners. Then van 2 runners would each run their legs and meet up with van 1 again to start the next leg. Repeat two times.

Confusing, I know. Just think of a relay with 12 people, each person ran 3 times, there were two vans with 6 runners each and we tagged each other at each checkpoint. Simplify and go.

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I know, you’re dying to know what I packed. I tried to keep it as light as possible since there were 6 other people in my van – I tried not to overpack. Two pairs of shoes, three outfits plus some backup outfits in case of emergency. Ready to go!

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Our team had an 11:30am start time on Friday so van 1 drove up to Mt. Hood on Thursday night to make sure we got to the start on time. Our boss has a place on Mt. Hood that he let us crash at. It was legit – such a nice place to relax before our race the next morning!

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The view off his back porch. Oregon, you are stunning.

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This is the van we lived in all weekend, she was a trooper. She handled our team like a champ. However, she did NOT smell pleasant by the end of the race. Sweaty runners for two days…yuck.

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On Friday morning we wanted to stop for breakfast before heading to the start line. I knew I had to run in a few hours and didn’t think an omelet or french toast would really sit well, so I opted for toast. Our #6 runner, Michael, ordered milk with his breakfast. We all thought that was a very bad choice before a run (granted, he did have about 7 hours until he was going to run…) and we made sure to give him a hard time all morning!

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We got to the start of the race around 10:30am on Friday morning and had time to check-in and watch some other groups get started. Here is my van! The guy next to me, Jack, he was our driver. He was supposed to be a runner but got injured on a cruise (crazy, how does that happen?!) the week before the race and had to bow out. Luckily we found a replacement but I know he was bummed that he couldn’t run with us. The rest of us were all ready to run!

IMG_0222Beautiful views at the starting line!

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Me and Curtis (he was runner #5) getting our game faces ready!

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I lined up at the start at 11:30 and was ready to go!

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As my van passed me on the way down the mountain they rolled the windows down and cheered me on! My first leg was 5.5 miles ALL DOWNHILL. I started at the top of the mountain at 6000 ft. and ran 5.5 miles downhill to 4000 ft. elevation. There was no flat, no uphill, straight downhill. My view though, it did not disappoint.

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Selfie with a waterfall! See that little box on my shirt? It’s a clip-on bluetooth speaker! Headphones weren’t allowed on the course so I had to come up with another way to blast my tunes because I cannot run without music. This little speaker worked like a champ!

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I finished in 44 minutes, 43 seconds which averaged 8:13/mile. Do not be fooled, I am in no way, shape or form that fast. That was insanely fast. Know why? Because, downhill. See that line? See how it goes down? That’s the only reason I ran that fast. I handed our baton (it was a wrist band, one of those snappy bracelet things) off to Tony, our second leg runner, and hopped back in the van!

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Once I was back in the van we drove over to the second exchange point to pick up Tony…and then Michael was off. Most of the checkpoints looked like the picture above – parking lots or fields where we could pull off the road, park, get our next runner out and over to the exchange line and cheer on our runner coming in. There were always tons of other vans at the exchange points waiting for their runners so it was fun to keep up with the teams who were pacing with us! After we dropped each runner off we drove to the next checkpoint to cheer them on and send off our next runner. Friday was a record high for the Hood to Coast race – it got up to 97 degrees. Luckily for me I started early in the day so I ran in about 72 degrees which was still warm but not terrible. Our leg 3, 4, 5, and 6 runners were running on the road (think, black asphalt, traffic passing by) in the blazing sun, no shade, in 97 degrees. We pulled off the road at various points of their run and would offer them water and gatorade so no one got dehydrated. It definitely made for an extremely challenging run but my team handled it like champions.

At exchange 7 we picked up our last runner and tagged the runners of van 2 off! Then all 6 of us got in our van and headed to Michael’s house which was by the start of exchange 13 where we would tag off with van 2 and start our second leg of the race.

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The race ran all through the night which meant some legs were going to be run at night. We were scheduled to start our second leg around 10pm and run all night into early Saturday morning. The rules of the relay were from 6pm – 6am, any runners who were running during those times had to wear a reflective vest, a headlamp, and two flashers (one on the front and one on the back of the vest) so that they could be visible. Most of the race was run on the road so it was important for cars to see us. During the time that van 2 runners were running their legs we went to Michael’s house to shower, change, eat, and attempt to take a nap. We had about 5 hours before we were up again, but no one really got any sleep. We got to his house around 6pm and had to leave again around 9:30pm, so no sleep was had.

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I had all my reflective gear on and we headed to downtown Portland to the 13th exchange. I got to the exchange line and waited for runner 12 to tag me in, and then I was off!

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I started my run on the Hawthorne Bridge. I am terrified of bridges and I had no idea that part of my run involved running on one. I guess that’s a good thing because I had no choice but to face my fear! I tried to get a picture of the Portland skyline from the bridge, but taking a night time picture while running proved, well, not so great.

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I ran through downtown and into some pretty industrial areas of Portland and finished my 4.2 mile leg in about 39 minutes. At the exchange point I tagged in Tony and off he went!

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This leg wasn’t downhill, and the elevation picture is a little deceiving. It was a pretty flat route so it was definitely slower than my downhill leg!

Our #6 runner finished his leg around 3am Saturday morning. At the exchange point he finished at there was a high school doing a fundraiser for the Hood to Coast teams – $2 for showers and $2 for a place to sleep. We were all about it. We showered and got to sleep on a gym floor on wrestling mats. We slept from about 4am until 7am. Then we packed up our van and headed to exchange point 25 to meet up with van 2.

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I started my final leg after getting tagged in by runner 12 around 8:40am and this run was through the country! I saw horses and donkeys, farms, and chickens!

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PHEW!! I was done!! The weather was so much cooler for this leg, only 63 degrees!

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Another exchange point, this was our runner 3 (Michael) handing off to runner 4 (Dinisa) – the countryside was so pretty and the weather continued to improve. Running in cooler temps > running in 97 degrees.

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Funny side story: the team made a Costco run on Thursday and packed our vans full of snacks. One snack being beef jerky. The first time someone decided to open it in the van for a snack we all immediately deemed it an outside the van food. It smelled AWFUL. In such a small space, combined with the sweaty runner smell, it was a terrible combination. This is Tony snacking on the beef jerky OUTSIDE the van where we pulled off on Curtis’ leg to cheer him on as he passed us. It was a pretty funny joke we made the whole weekend!

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We picked up our last runner and tagged van 2 in and headed to Seaside because we were DONE with all of our legs! The drive to Seaside was about 30 minutes from where the last exchange was so we all took a nap.

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At the beach…it was COLD! But it was refreshing. The beach was in full party mode, tons of tents with food, beer, recovery massages and first aid. We had a special VIP section because we were a fundraising team. We got two beers and a full meal. The food was delicious because we were all starving! No one ate a whole lot during the race because no one wanted any unexpected stomach issues. So the first meal we had after finishing was inhaled pretty fast!

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Once our last runner from van 2 crossed the finish line, we celebrated! We just finished 198 miles as a team and everyone did amazing! We got our medals and took a team picture together. Completing the race was an amazing example of how much could be accomplished as a team – something that would have been impossible to do alone could be done with the help and support of others. What a great event, I’m so grateful I got to be a part of this team!

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Our final results! Out of 226 teams in our category we got 130th, and out of all 1,050 teams that competed we got 503rd place. Not a bad stat for a team full of Hood to Coast newbies! Our finish time was 31 hours and 37 seconds – that’s A LOT of running! I’m so so happy that I decided to join the team and run this race. It was definitely an experience I will never forget!

Now, I’m going to get back to foam rolling. My legs are definitely screaming at me today! Totally worth it though…

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