During the last weekend of August each year, runners of the Northwest (and beyond)
band van together, in teams of 12 (six in each van) leapfrogging their way from the snowy top of Mt. Hood to the gorgeous Oregon Coast. There, only for a short time, where the entire stretch of beach from Seaside to Astoria is crawling with some of the world’s most gung-ho runners, every motel, hotel room, and beach house is booked, well in advance.
Every year, I land on a mystery team, thanks to craigslist or facebook. It’s not hard, especially if you wait until the last minute, when teams are scrambling (due to an inevitable number of cancellations and injuries). Been on fast teams, slow teams, a men’s team (which can have up to two women), and a women’s team. (Actually, a team of moms!) Never mattered who I was with, because once we got to the finish line, there was nothing but possibilities. Usually, me and the teams split there.
Last year, found a team that was mostly empty, so I was able to fill it with my friends. We camped together at the beach in a giant tent, almost the size of a living room. This year, didn’t have the luxury.
This year’s team was originally going to be a returning group. Ranging in age from about 28 to 74, we ended up being a hodge-podge, half of us new to the team. In Van 2, we were mostly strangers to each other. Turned out, couldn’t have dreamed of better van-mates…
9:30am – Van 1 takes off from Mt. Hood. The wait is on.
2:15pm – First transition to our van, at the Safeway parking lot in Sandy, is complete. During the van-decorating process, we named ourselves “Scraps-R-Us” because so many of us are random additions to the team. The back of our van says “Scrap-tactular”.
Runner #6, Nick is up first. The team captain decided it would be optimal if #6 rides with us (making us carry seven runners, while the other van has five). He thinks it will help us get through the bottleneck at the busy exchanges…
#7 is Kristen, from Seattle. This is her first Hood to Coast, and she’s a doll. Big thanks to Kristen for about a dozen of the pictures included below!
#8 is Carissa, a freshly implanted Portlander. She moved here a month ago, for nursing school and figured doing her first Hood to Coast would be a great way to meet some people. Smart cookie.
#9 is Jaime, a friend from Miss Triche’s workout classes. She was on the team of moms I was on, back in 2010.
#10 is Brian, a long-time veteran to the team, who rarely says much (but I can tell he’s content) until we get to the coast, and his girlfriend arrives. Much more detectable, outward displays of happiness then. Cute couple.
#11 is me. You know me!
#12 is Tom, a southern gentleman, who lives in Seattle, but never lost his southern drawl. He repeatedly had us in stitches with his “isms”. The one I heard most-often-quoted by the ladies, was something like, “If a chicken lays a square egg, it’s still gonna have a sore ass.” Tom tried to explain the context of this little gem at one point… but all I could make out was something about how, “the moon’s not made of cheese.”
My first run was about 4.5 miles, around 5pm, under beaming hot sun. Aside from being stopped at FIVE red lights along the way, it was quite zippy. Lots of roadkill, and no one passed me. Soon we had a break, while Van 2 ran their second legs.
Our second legs were in the middle of the night, so I slept in the van until it was getting close to my turn. At about 4am, I was dumped out of the van, as it sat in gridlock traffic on our way into the exchange point. I ran to the handoff area, where Brian was already done running, waiting there for several minutes (an unfortunate/frequent occurrence during Hood to Coast). Knocked out that second leg: another speedy 4-miler, roadkill, roadkill, roadkill, and quickly got back to sleeping in the van.
In the morning, got out for a while at my favorite massive van exchange. There’s a farmhouse where people sell burgers and espresso out of their garage, and in their vast yard, along with lots of honey buckets, they have a couple of horses. Every year, I look forward to seeing those horses, especially the big brown one. I bring him plenty of treats, apples or carrots. He loves me!
For most of the day, we were running our last legs. Mine was 7.2 miles on a remote logging trail; the only people I saw were the ones left in my dust along the way. Roadkill.
At the end, the team captain handed me a key to a beachfront motel room (overlooking the finish-line) where the ladies of Van 2 made ourselves at home. Then it was shower-time, and off to the beer garden for a fun game of Spot-the-Hottie. We laughed, danced and enjoyed the fireworks, took a quick splash in the ocean and a couple of us even snuck into a nearby hot tub, pool and sauna. Nothing to see here folks, no trouble at all.
Morning after, woke everyone early (except for Tom, who was already up, cleaning out the van) so we could beat the crowd at the traditional H2C breakfast spot, Pig’n’Pancake.