This year, I went with the first team that recruited me: Urban Mamas on the Run. One of four teams sponsored by Vitamin Water, including another team of moms (Run Mama Run), we were well taken care of.
Each runner received a pair of Nike running shoes, shorts and a couple t-shirts. Our vans were stocked with food and supplies. There was a potluck at Peninsula park the night before the race and in the morning, with six eager moms in each van – blastoff.
Hood 2 Coast is a relay race designed for teams of 12, split in half between two vans, which leap-frog their way from Mt. Hood (our state’s highest peak) to the Oregon coast, as each runner completes their series of four- to eight-mile runs. For the fastest teams, often running below a five minute pace, the 197 mile race takes less than a day.
Our team finished in roughly 32 hours.
It was perfect race weather. At night, I wore my daughter’s full-length parka over my running clothes, which no-doubt made everyone quite jealous, cozy as could be. After my second run, a simple 5-miler at 3am on a dusty gravel road (what I called “the tunnel of darkness”), I took the tiniest nap, until I awoke, face in a pool of drool.
Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the last van exchange, where the plan was to get some sleep. I dug out my sleeping bag as everyone settled into their own little pocket of the van, fully preparing to catch a few Zs, when suddenly I noticed the time. It was 4:20!
There was no way I was going to sleep. Wrapped in Violet’s parka, I found myself a seat where the action was: at a plastic table in the driveway of the farmhouse-garage-turned-breakfast cafe. I sat there for a solid two hours chatting with whoever happened to share the table, three adorable teenage boys from the cross country team at some Christian bible school, a hilarious dude named Deven and another guy, a H2C rookie named Steve, from Nike. (Flirting my fellow athletes is always one of my favorite parts of Hood2Coast.)
Finally it was time to get going. Around 7am, we hit the road and by noon it was time for my last run: eight miles of rolling hills approaching the Oregon Coast. The ocean was so close I could taste it.
Stacking up roadkills left and right (that’s what it’s called when you pass someone during the race), I came up running behind a chatty older man who I decided to hang with for a while before I knocked him off. He had a great sense of humor. When I asked what his name was, he told me people call him Stupid. His name was Edward.
“I like to play with my prey before I kill it,” I told Ed, just before I picked the pace up a few notches, moving on.
With my last leg done, I immediately went into party mode. It was just a few minutes before I must have overheard a beer can opening nearby, and only a few seconds after that before a cold one was in my hot sweaty hands. Then, checking out my sexy grit in the reflection of another van, I heard a familiar voice coming from the other side.
It was my pal Erik Stromquist! I love that guy! His speedy team started several hours later than ours, so I’d been looking for them to catch up.
At the end, the Mamas didn’t have time to stay and play. I bid them farewell, grabbed my pack and sleeping bag, still not sure where I’d spend the night or how I’d get home in the morning. That didn’t matter one bit! I’d find a way.
And it was, as it always is, stupendous.