I have heard great things about Hood to Coast - literally the "mother of all relays" but have never had the chance to run the traditional course from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon - until now!
This race is so popular that you can only get in through lottery , or by charity team.
I saw a FB post from a friend that they had an opening on their charity team. My plans had changed for that weekend and I decided to jump on the opportunity. I knew 3 people on the team, so I had a feeling it would be a good time. And they were sooooooo organized it made it easy for me.
I got picked up at the airport on Thursday - my entire team but me arrived on Wednesday to hang out for 5 full days - they must really like each other, huh?? We stopped at the worst, weirdest Subway on the planet in an industrial park in Portland on the way. More than just the bread was "baked" there, LOL. Anyhoo, we met up with the rest of the team who was having an amazing time partying in the lodge at Mt. Hood. Such a cool setting, and everyone was relaxed, welcoming and fun to hang out with.
Then off to dinner where more fun commenced. Here's Stephen being shy...
Ok, time to get serious. Our team had a start time of 3:10 am and I was in van 1 - YIKES! It was an odd night of sleep for sure, but we made it to the top of Mt. Hood where it was around 37 degrees, windy and drizzling. Not exactly my favorite combo! I hit up that gear store, saw runner 1 off and hopped back under the covers in the van. My first leg would be 4.6 miles, somewhat downhill. I suprisingly wasn't cold, it warmed up about 10 degrees once we drove down the mountain. But still drizzling. Unbeknownst to me, my leg would take me in part on a trail through the woods. At 4am. Once I turned onto the trail, the fast people quickly went by and I was suddenly alone on the trail which was not marked along the dirt trail. Kinda freaked out a little, as I am NOT a trail runner and wasn't 100% sure I was going the right way. It eventually merged onto a paved trail that was marked and shortly after that I was back on the highway. Whew!
Leg 2 would take our van through downtown Portland (sketchy) and the outskirts. It was heating up a bit, so most people did not enjoy their jaunt through ugly industrial areas and homeless encampments. My run was the longest I had, which was around 7.5 miles. Straight stretch of highway, but rolling hills which kept me entertained.
Being a charity team, we got to take advantage of a huge VIP area at exchange 24 where they had swag, recovery tools, comfy chairs, and FOOD! Made a quick sweep through there and then went off to sleep for a bit. Where we ended up is known to not have cell reception. So when we got up at the time we had agreed on, we learned that the other van finished a good hour early and was waiting for us. Oops. Our last legs would be in the dark (at least the first 3 runners) and it was pretty uneventful. Legs were soooo sore from all the hills so it was more of a shuffle.
Quite literally, as we finished our legs and were driving on towards the coast for breakfast, we were stopped in the road by a pig offering us bloody marys. Naturally, we had to stop and check this out. After breakfast we headed for the finish at the beach. This was such a cute area. Seaside is super touristy. There were a bunch of tents set up on the beach, it was quite a sight.
All in all, we did pretty well! Our captain David brought us over the finish line where he proceeded to formally medal us, which was kind of cool.
We did all the obligatory putting our feet in the water, taking goofy pics and then it was time for a ceremonial finisher beer.
After lunch, I left the crew to meet up with 2 girlfriends who flew in for the weekend. The team ended up spending another day and a half sightseeing, going to waterfalls, goonies house and Nike store.
This was a perfect way to cap off an epic Oregon adventure. I absolutely loved it here and will definitely come back. Feeling blessed to have been with such a great group that I'm sure in one capacity or another will race with again!
A few takeaways in terms of differences between Hood to Coast and Ragnar:
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!