After a lengthy hiatus, I’m happy to have Lucy back to share another one of her guest blog posts…this time about the Hood to Coast Relay! If you don’t know Lucy already, or you haven’t heard her story, you can read my Interview with a Runner – Lucy Chi! Take it away, Lucy!
Hi everyone, the following is my very belated review of the Hood To Coast Relay 2016!
On August 26-27th, 2016, I participated in my second ever Hood to Coast Relay (H2C). H2C is an overnight team relay that runs a course of 197-199 miles from the top of Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon. Every team has two vans, which rotate after every 6 legs, giving the other team a chance to recuperate. Every runner on the team typically runs 3 legs over this span of 197-199 miles. H2C brands itself as the “Mother of All Relays” given it has been around since 1982. Currently, most teams are accepted into the relay by a lottery system. Like most popular races, it has become difficult to gain an entry into this race.
Luckily, this year was my second time completing the relay. I first completed this relay in 2013 and was fortunate enough to be invited back by a fellow Forerunners clinic member who has become very dedicated to organizing this race (Thanks, Dan!). Apart from four members, the 2016 team was completely different from the 2013 team.
As for the relay, the start on Mount Hood is always an amazing sight. The day was sunny and beautiful, and the setting made for unforgettable “before” photos. Since there are hundreds of teams doing this relay from all over the world, each team is given a start time based on estimated runner times from your team. The idea is that walkers and slower runners start early on the Friday morning, while fast and competitive teams begin towards the afternoon. That way, everyone should arrive at the finish line party at Seaside, Oregon at approximately the same time.
Our start time was 10am this year. A little bit early, since we had a 2-hour drive from our hotel. But nonetheless, I preferred this to a later start since it took the pressure off of being caught up by the fast runners.
One of the best takeaways from the relay has consistently been the souvenir shirt. Given that the relay is massively sponsored by Nike and is situated in their headquarter state of Oregon, everyone received a Nike shirt. The shirt quality is excellent, mostly because it fits well, and is one of the only race shirts I wear throughout the year to run in because of the fit. I find that Nike race shirts can be “hit-or-miss”, but clearly they pulled out their higher-quality shirts for this event!
Since I was in the second van, we didn’t start our portion of the relay until approximately 3:30 in the afternoon. I will mention here that there was a heat wave that Friday in Oregon, with temperatures in the 34-35 C range, which made the first leg for all runners very unforgettable. I am 99% sure that this was the hottest 9.7km I have ever run. Just standing and waiting for the first van was torturous in the heat. It was a mental and physical challenge without a doubt. I was so thankful for the on-course support we received from the community. People had sprinklers running for the runners to run through, as well as ice-water stations. Undoubtedly, every single one of these were lifesavers as the H2C is a self-supported race and does not provide any official water stops.
The highlight of my relay this year came during my second leg. I started this leg around 3am on Saturday morning. Since my previous leg was torturous in the heat, this second leg in the evening felt glorious in the cool temperature. Although I have never been a fan of hills, I felt that I flew up the mostly uphill leg. Running in the dark in the middle-of-nowhere also adds another dimension that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although there were other runners around me, it was completely serene. This was one thing I discovered about myself during the H2C relay. The one small downside to this leg was the dust along the last kilometres. It was so bad that I could hear my teeth crunching and almost took a wrong turn because you could barely seen in front of you. The relay did suggest wearing a bandana, but a teammate tried this on his leg and noted it wasn’t that helpful. Oh well.
Our team ended up finishing the relay on Saturday evening around 5-5:30pm. Definitely a respectable time and on par with our prediction. I was happy with my running and the race organization overall. If anyone ever decides to participate in this for the future, keep in mind a few things:
- There can be long car line-ups at the exchanges for over a kilometre. Be patient…which can be hard on little food/sleep .
- There can be long line-ups at the port-a-potties. Expect and budget time for this.
- And finally, enjoy getting to know your teammates. This was definitely a highlight for me as I didn’t know a number of my teammates well. I will be completely honest here that there were some lowlights as well, as being in a confined space with people for over 30 hours can grate on you at different times. You will learn to let some things go and remember that everyone will manage the lack of rest, proper food, and bathroom routine differently. You won’t all become best friends overnight (literally), but you will share an unforgettable experience.
To sum it up, it was an incredible experience and I don’t regret a moment of it. You learn much about yourself and your own limits – both physically and mentally.
As a side plug, the same organizer will be looking to put forward a team in the lottery for 2017. While I won’t be going again, he is looking for runners. If you are interested, please let me or Bradley know so we can put you in touch with him!
Congratulations Lucy – and the whole relay team! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us!