Friday, September 01, 2006

H2C, 4TR

So last weekend Paul & I completed the final Oregon citizen hazing ritual, the Hood to Coast relay. (Don't worry mom, I'm always an Iowan first.) Despite our unexpected adventures, we still finished, albeit not yet officially (a race official misplaced our timer form).
Allow me to break it down.

-- 12 people per team, divided into 2 stinky, crowded vans.
-- 197 mile of road are divided into 36, 3-7.4 mile long segments.
-- Each team member runs one of 12 legs, repeated 3 times total, relay style.
-- Teams start on top of Mt. Hood anytime between 7am and 7pm, and take between 16 and 35 hours to reach the beach in Seaside, OR. Our team was somewhere in the middle: 27 hours, I think.
Okay, first of all, if you've never done or seen the event, It's Crazy, in Paul's words. Imagine about 15,000 people in 2000 vans constantly picking up and dropping off runners, traversing across northwest Oregon -- through Portland too, mind you! Some of these teams have been doing the race for many years, and have vans designated for just that purpose (sort of like the Mardi Gras floats of the South). They strap on blow-up dolls and stero speakers blasting Elvis (for example), spray paint slogans and "road kill" tallies, and decorate with trinkets and party supplies. WE ended up in U-Haul cargo vans, to our shagrin and relief. Four days before the race our other van 'contract' left us high and dry. Despite our nifty, prominently placed "Dam Runners" (get it?) magnetic signs, we continually fielded the question,"Is it really only $19.95 per day?" We'd decided that U-Haul should have paid us to advertise for them!
Personally, Paul and I were satisfied with our performances. We love each other's B.O. so much that we chose to ride in the same van for the duration. To boot, I always handed off the sweaty bracelet (baton) to him. We both did about 15 miles each, over some pretty tough terrain (but I have to brag -- since I'm writing this -- my segments were the tougest rated and had most miles! Why am I excited about that?...). Still, Paul kicked some buttocks, ending up with the second-fastest times on the team (not to me...why does everyone think I'm faster than him?)! Sore, under-fed with tummyaches, tired, and likely smelly (however not stinkier than that one guy!), we had a good time.
Looking back, I'd say the secret to successfully completing all 3 legs is to get a little sleep, eat smart, and find things to distract yourself from that inevitable looming sense of dread. In our case, that distraction came in the form of a 'pop.'

"I heard it pop."
Then it started to roll, picking up speed, heading for a (possibly hard of hearing) Supermaster runner, the highway, and more runners. All we could see inside the van was our first legger Dave bouncing around in the back! As we continued to holler at the Supermaster to get out of the way, our amazing driver Matt jumped onto the step, reached in the window and swung the steering wheel to the right. This sent the van into a shallow, weedy ditch that happened to be a dumping ground for leftover asphault. Was it a crash? The van made a crashing noise as it trampled the blackberry bushes and weeds. That counts, right? There the van sat, and would for several (6?) hours, waiting for a tow truck that wouldn't come. Two of our teammates and driver kept it company too.
Meanwhile, Kimberly, myself, and Paul hitchhiked ahead to the starting points of our segment of the relay. All of our 'rides' were so accommodating, offering water and Gatorade, cheering us on during our runs, and referring us to another potential ride. So nice! In all, I hitched 4 times, which means Paul must have taken five. That was a fun adventure. :)
Then we had a beer and went home. I'd do it again. The end.

More shared photos, if you're interested.
Also our Flickr!

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