Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hood to Coast 2014

I've been wanting to run the Hood to Coast Relay for years.   It is the oldest relay of its kind, and very popular; 3,000 teams apply for 1,050 spots in the race.  I had no plans to go this year but was lucky enough to be invited to join a team that already had an entry, when one of their runners had to cancel.  

As the name suggests, the race starts on Mt. Hood and winds nearly 200 miles down to the coast at Seaside, Oregon, passing through downtown Portland at about the half way point.  

The Starting Line at 6:30 am

The race is divided into 36 legs,  most of which are about six miles long.  Teams consist of anywhere from eight to 12 runners.  Our team had nine runners, so we each ran four legs about five or six hours apart.

I ran legs 2, 11, 20 and 29.  My first leg was all downhill, nearly at the top of Mt. Hood, starting around 8:30 on Friday morning.  My second leg was in the heat of the day, and my third was in the dark of night.  My final leg began in the dark, around 5am, and ended in the early morning light.

David and Natalie


Hood to Coast is madhouse.  A thousand teams participating means that 2,000 vans and approximately 10,000 runners crowd onto the two lane roads leading down from Mt. Hood towards Seaside, Oregon.  Exchange points can be very crowded.  In fact, the traffic leading into exchange point 24 was so bad that it took us well over an hour to drive the final mile, and our runner had to wait for us to arrive. 

Most of the teams come up with creative names and decorate their vans.  Some also run in costumes.

Where's Waldo Theme Van

Cereal Killers Van

Every Van from Seattle to Medford Gets Rented for HTC
Hertz Knows What Happens to those Vans

 Start times for the race are staggered, with the slower teams starting as early as 6:00am and the fastest teams starting in the afternoon.  But either way, all of the teams run through the night.  And, for most teams, the race takes more than 24 hours.  So, that means lots of sleeping, eating and changing dirty clothes in the vans.

Dan Getting Some Much Need Sleep

College Women Sacked Out at Exchange Point 28

The long day and the close quarters are part of what makes Hood to Coast so much fun.  I had a great time with my teammates, and also met quite a few other runners along the route.

One thing I would change, however, is the walkers.  The walkers start their event in Portland.  When they joined in, the roads became even more crowded.  And, for the most part, the walkers have little in common with the runners.  It would be nice if they could hold the walking event on a different day.

Our team finished in 27:31, 185th place out of 1,050 teams.  I was happy with the way I ran.  I've been quite tired since the Bryce 100, but I felt much better this past weekend.  It was also good to run relatively fast.  Ultras involve a lot of shuffling and a lot of walking. Hood to Coast has some of the endurance aspects of an ultra, such as staying up all night, but it also allows runners to move faster.

The Finish Line

Me and John at Seaside, After the Race

Overall, it was a great weekend.  I am still not quite ready to start hard training again, although I will slowly work my way back into that.  Next race is still TBA.

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