Thursday, September 3, 2009

From the hood to the coast

The whole adventure started early Friday morning. Teams are scheduled to start in groups of about 20 teams every 15 minutes. They arrange the teams according to their estimated speeds so that the course doesn't get too congested and so that teams finish during the right time window. Our starting time was 7:30 am. I got picked up a little after 5:00 am and our van sped up the highway to get to the start of the race, Timberline lodge. One of our van members, Ben, had the Bourne soundtracks which inspired our driver Dan to reach the lodge in time.

Once there, we got our start packets, took some pictures, and got ready to cheer on Ben, our first runner. He got the pleasure of running 5.64 miles down the mountain. The first runners were called to the starting line, and at 7:30 sharp, it had begun.

At the base of Mt. Hood

The Timberline lodge parking lot

Our van held the runners for the first 6 legs, and I was slotted to run in the 6th slot. As the race progressed, we would drive down the course, often stop at about the halfway point and wait by the side of the road and cheer people on, and finally drive to the next exchange point. There, the next runner would get ready and finally start running upon receiving the baton (a green Nike slap bracelet) from the previous runner. Then we would hop in the van and do it all again.

The race course

My task was typically to peruse the maps, navigate the van between waypoints, and get people prepped for their legs. I also drove the vans when the other driver, Dan, was running his legs.
It was a little odd being the last one in the van to run. Everyone else had a chance to get their first leg under their belt while I was still worried if I could even make it. Finally my turn came. My first leg was 7.42 miles (the second longest leg of the whole thing for anyone), which is definitely the furthest I have ever run in one go. It was along the shoulder of Highway 26, ending in the town of Sandy, OR. I felt really good, and just had trouble pacing myself correctly. It took about a mile for my breathing to become regular, and to really find a groove. All in all, the first leg went better than I had hoped, and I finished the whole thing in 1 hour exactly.

Halfway through my first leg

After my leg we got some food and got back on the road. I am not sure that sitting in a van is the best thing right after a long run, but I am sure that regardless of what I had done I would have been sore. It was fun to cheer the others on, and it quickly came back around to our van's turn. Our first runner, Ben, got to start again in downtown Portland, and by the end of his leg we were already out of the city for good.

My next leg was only 4.15 miles, which felt short after my morning run. I was surprised how good I felt right from the start, and had a pleasant run in the dark. We had to wear reflective vests and headlamps in the dark. My second leg was along some country roads, and at one points I turned my head and was surprised when my headlamp illuminated a cow about 5 feet away from me on the other side of a fence. I had someone coming up on my tail for the last half mile, which was great and kept me going strong coming into the finish line.

My leg ended at about 10:30 pm, and we headed off to try and get some sleep at the point where our first runner would have to start again. It took about an hour and a half to get there, with the traffic of the other vans. I slept for 3 hours in a sleeping bag wrapped up in a tarp in Mist, OR. It was, appropriately, drizzling and misting the whole time.

Our van's last turn started at about 3:45 am, and continued until my last leg, which was 5.35 miles up and down some decent hills. It started raining pretty significantly about halfway through, and I was pretty soaked by the end. At this point I was beat. I could barely walk, and stairs especially caused my weary muscles much pain. We met our whole team at the finish line around 2:45 pm and crossed together, 197.06 miles later. It was a fun adventure. I was amazed at how far our bodies can take us. Even after just our first 6 legs we were so far from Mt. Hood. I couldn't believe that we had run from that mountain. Overall it was a good experience (especially if you take out the car trouble that Brittney mentioned in the previous post). I was so grateful for Brittney letting me participate and for allowing me to recover some sleep in the following days.

The long awaited finish line: 31 hours and 17 minutes later

With our medals, the beach in the background


Shanna said...

That's so awesome! I've always thought one of those relay races would be a lot of fun to do. I love that Lachelle's dad (Kirk White) did it with you too :)

Ryan + Jess said...

Sounds so absolutely INSANE! Such a fun thing to do and such a great memory, I'm sure. Way to go Chris! And what a supportive wife you are Brit!

dixie said...

I've never thought anything like this could be remotely considered fun, but you make it sound like a great adventure. Wow. I'm glad you got to participate. Are you hooked now?

chris said...

I don't think I would say hooked, but I would be interesting in doing this race again sometime. (maybe years away)

Radene said...

AWESOME JOB CHRIS! So wish we could have been there to cheer for you!

Barb: said...

That is awesome, Chris! I've always wanted to do a relay race like that. Sounds like you did great and had fun. Way to go! I guess you are a family of runners--very cool.