For those who don’t know: Hood to Coast is a relay race where runners, in teams of 12 (six each in two vans), make their way from Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge aaaaaaall the way to the sandy shores of Seaside, Oregon. Each person runs three legs, ranging in distance from about three to eight miles.
Every year, I find a team to join – usually at the last minute – using the Hood to Coast team matching board, Facebook, and Craigslist. Here’s the brief history:
2007: My first year, the captain told me I couldn’t stay with the team because his girlfriend felt threatened by my presence. Got good and sloshed at the beach party, then passed out in the van. Exhausted and drunk, it didn’t matter where I slept.
2008: Found a team of competitive runners who’d been on the same cross country team in college. We were technically a men’s team, because there were only a couple females. I brought on a super fast guy from my running club, Joel Gordon. We got 9th place in the Men’s Open!
2009: Team S.S.O.R.E. was a bunch of people from the East Coast. I was the only local. They had flights to catch after the race, so they didn’t stick around to party. I have only a vague recollection of where I stayed that night.
2011: Found a team that was mostly empty and filled it with my homies. After the finish party, we stayed in a giant tent on the front lawn of my buddy’s beautiful beach house.
2012: Got on a team of complete randoms, ranging in age from 25-72. Met some great new gal pals… Carissa & Kristen! This team had everything taken care of, including several rooms at an oceanfront motel… where they stay every year.
This year it was a team of therapists that I’d heard about from my newest gal-pal, Lena. (Lena and I met through the Hood to Coast team matching board, about six weeks ago.) We chose the first team that had room for both of us and would let us be in the same van together… because during H2C, van one and van two runners barely get to see each other. When they do connect, it’s always brief… and sometimes stressful.
The first challenge was making sure Lena had the following day off work. She didn’t realize it at the time, but shutting down the beach party at the end of the race is a MUST.
For weeks we worried that she might not be able to get that day off, that she would have to go back to Portland, immediately after the race. SO LAME. It was only a few days until the start, when we got the good news. She found someone to cover her shift! Cue celebration.
During the race, our team hit a couple snags. Despite running in the pitch black, wee hours of the night, on remote gravel roads, our biggest challenge was logistical. Not once, but TWICE we ended up at the wrong exchange point. Several times, our runners had to wait at the exchange, for the next runner (still in the van) to get there. Not like we were going to win, anyway.
Overall, we were running so far ahead of schedule, that even with the hang-ups, we ended up finishing very close to the predicted time.
Believe it or not, our van one comrades returned to Portland before we reached the finish line.
That’s when things got interesting. I’d assured Lena not to worry about anything. Don’t worry about where we’re going to stay or how we’re getting home, I told her. We are going to sneak into the unsecured hot tub (that I’d discovered the previous year), spend the night wherever, get breakfast at Pig’n’Pancake, and find a ride home with any one of the thousands of vans that would be heading that way throughout the day. Lena was understandably nervous at the thought of this unpredictable adventure. But she trusted me.
And I was grateful for it. I’ve been winging it at Hood to Coast, by myself, for several years now. It’s a whole other ball game with a hot co-hort on board!
After the finish, the rest of the people from our van opted to skip the beer garden. Pure crazy! Lena and I walked them back to the vehicle, where we retrieved our bags and bid them farewell. It was early in the day, plenty of time for the beer garden later, so we went directly to the Top Secret Hot Tub. There we found also a weight room, pool, sauna AND SHOWERS!!! Had a nice soak, got cleaned up, and stashed our bags there.
On to the party.
Who is the first familiar face we see? Supermodel Christy Turlington! I wouldn’t believe it myself if I didn’t have photos (and video) to prove it. She was running on a team representing her non-profit, Every Mother Counts. We ran into many friends, met some stud-ly superheroes, shut down the finish party, migrated to a bar and then wandered down to a bonfire on the beach. We played Spot the Hottie until we could no longer hold our eyes open! At last, Lena and I crashed on the floor of Kristen’s motel room…one of the gal-pals I’d met (and run with) last year.
In the morning, Lena and I woke up extra early and quietly departed. Had another Top Secret Hot Tub sesh, showered, and meandered over to Pig’n’Pancake for breakfast and a recap of the weekend. We laughed so hard, we were in tears.
It was by far, the BEST HOOD TO COAST YET!!!