Sunday, September 10, 2006

Big Mike-Thanks for the help-best teammate ever!!
got this blog back wards but enjoy the hood to coast in reverse~

It is the end of a very long twenty-some odd hours of running, cheering, riding in the van and subsequently having a few well deserved beers. This one is in the books, and I am already thinking that it wasn't sooo bad, maybe one more year...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

As the finish line approaches the rigors of the night start to show themselves, but the enthusiasm is not dampened a bit. Everyone is looking forward to the finish where everyone on the team passes through the finish line as a group. Appropriate as the entire team has contributed to your arrival there. Most anticipated is the beer tent where 12-13,000 runners all release the tensions of the previous 24 hours and let go a little bit. The mood is festive to say the least and the setting is incredible on the beach in Seaside as the setting of the sun signals the winding down of the entire debacle.

The drivers are the heroes of this race. They do not have to run but they have to stay awake the whole time and stay on top of where they are supposed to be. It is very confusing especially in the middle of the night when well-meaning volunteers are waving you in a certain direction only to find they are waving the second vans not yours and if you are not paying attention you have missed the exchange for your next runner. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see a runner finish their leg and the next runner is not yet there to meet them. They have to stay in the finish chute until their teammate arrives and the clock continues to tick off time as they stand there. It is a helpless feeling after running your ass off to realize that no matter how fast you ran you are just losing time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

the morning brings mist in Mist and some very bleary eyes on some very tired runners. It is at this point that the true nature of the elite teams is most evident. Cruising along and acquiring roadkills( every person you pass is considered roadkill and they are duly noted as slash marks on the side of the van) I hear behind me the telltale footfalls of a very fast runner. I try to pick up the pace, but my quads argue with me, feeling the toll of running the first leg down off Mt. Hood into Government Camp and then sitting in a van all night tightening up. A young, attractive, roughly 90 lb woman flies past me, one of the elite Nike team. I chase her as best I can, but can only manage 200 yards or so before I return to what seems like a ploddinng pace now. The local sheriff in Mist waits all year for his opportunity to yell, holler, and threaten jail time for the most incidental infractions and he did nothing this year to diminish his legend.

people endure some incredible things during this feat, and somehow a good number of them manage to finish. Some folks do not manage to finish, and they are thought no less of for their surrender. The enthusiasm of the start seems to be replaced on the later legs by a determination which can be seen in the faces and strides of the competitiors. Both of the people whose injuries are shown finished.

the exchange of the bracelet is how the proverbial baton is passed, and the exchange area becomes more and more bizarre as the race progresses. The night exchanges are the most interesting; with the headlamps of the runners bobbing along the roads and all the blinking lights, the barking of the volunteers as they warn the exchange chute of the numbers of the approaching team members, and the vans coming and going in a seemingly endless parade.

The Vans are the expression of the personality of each group of runners. It is yourhome for the duration of the race. You are in the van, out of the van, in the van, out of the van. It is so incredible to see all the different teams and their thoughts as the race progresses.

It's a love/hate relationship with the Honey Buckets in this race. But they are your saving grace. Running with no sleep and no food of any redeeming value for twenty-something hours is tough on your gut and the Honey Buckets are there for you. There is probably nowhere else that you will see people cheer for the guys who empty the Honey Buckets.


I like to refer to the Hood to Coast Relay as "24 hours of organized chaos". I think this is pretty accurate. I have never been involved in something that creates and displays so much of both it's own personality and the personality of it's participants. It is healthy to be reminded that Chaos is fun.
197 miles is a long distance to run, whether it is with 11 other people or not. There is such enthusisam surrounding this event it is incredibly contagious. From the start at Timberline L0dge on Mt. Hood to the finish on the beach at Seaside, Oregon you can feel the zest for life that the runners exhibit, despite whatever trials and tribulations happen along the way.