It seems like an oxymoron to consider a relay the perfect relaxing getaway, but Three Capes Relay was just that for me. This new marathon relay offered a solo division for runners to tackle the whole course, as well as teams of up to five runners. I was super excited to hear about this new fundraiser for the Tillamook High School Cross Country team and registered in the ‘family’ category, planning to run with my teenager, running buddy and her daughter. Fast forward to March 1st and our team had dwindled, due to schedule conflicts, down to me and my running buddy. Not a big deal, I thought, we’ve both run marathons.
We checked in race morning and let the Race Director know that it would just be the two of us. I hadn’t been nervous at all about running this, until I saw the look on his face. I’m not sure if he was just surprised, thought we were crazy or figured we were ignorant and didn’t know the elevation. Turns out it was the latter. Even though I had read the leg descriptions, even did the leg descriptions for a race preview, it somehow didn’t completely register. I look at the elevation charts and like to get an idea of a course, but I’ve found that I can’t rely on them a lot since scales always vary and I don’t have a common point of reference.
There was a reason he suggested participants drive the course to get an idea before the race. The majority of participants were from out of town and at least one guy had listened to the advice and driven the leg. I was all ears, just hoping he would say it just started off tough but would level out. He said it was really just one climb, pretty much. An app went off next to me, noting we were a mile into it, still climbing, and it was a ten minute mile pace. I knew in that first mile, this course was going to challenge me and it was crystal clear why the Race Director thought we were ambitious.
The roads were open to traffic, except for a tiny stretch along the first leg, so music was not permitted. I discovered, rather quickly, how much I depend on music and my running girl to get me through runs. No timing chips or bracelets at the exchange points, so we did a fist bump to trade off. There were volunteers at every exchange point, manually keeping track of the splits. Fortunately, there were port-a-potties at every exchange point as well. There were spots where parking was a little tricky, but fortunately my girlfriend’s husband had joined us for the morning to be our chauffeur. He came prepared, dressed in shorts since he knew the car would be on the warmer side.
My teammate was way too fast with both of her legs. She made up for my slacking, but it didn’t leave me with much time in between legs. Leg Three was the beast of this run. The leg started off great, mostly flat and the sun was out, for a bit. I even thought I needed some sunglasses. The climb started about 3 ½ miles in, and included an aggressive climb for the remaining 3 miles. The fog rolled in and my shins were on fire, that fist bump could not come fast enough.
My running buddy, Tami, flew through leg 4 and too quickly gave me one last knuckle bump for my final 7.02 mile home stretch. Stormy beach weather rolled in and I know the cars travelling along 101 were thinking we were absolutely insane. It was a little lonely by this leg, as most of the teams had spread out and the headwind, sideways rain and spots of total downpour made me smile, thinking maybe the drivers were right, we were a bit crazy.
We finished at the beach in Pacific City and the rain didn’t dampen the spirited volunteers. For each team, they ran a ribbon across the finish line to break as you came in. With a medal at the finish line, they snapped a quick picture with the ocean in the background. I was a wet mess by the end, but what a great way to end a race.
Patrick Zweifel coaches the Tillamook Cross Country Team and has already helped them place 5th at state last year, after only two years at Tillamook High School. His passion is evident; he clearly wants to put Tillamook on the running map. The Three Capes Relay ran without any snags and he organizes a super popular running camp in Tillamook called Ultimook. His enthusiasm for running and his community is infectious and it was fun to watch him interact with the students and runners.
The course was challenging and with only two right turns along the entire stretch, it was impossible to get lost. It was clearly marked with lots of signs and plenty of volunteers. I think I saw the Race Director at every single exchange point, taking pictures and making sure everyone was safe and having a good time. Pictures were up on their website by time I got home from the beach and they got some amazing shots. The photos alone almost made it worth doing the run, which says a lot since I always hate race pictures.
Our relay finished with a night at the beach; our chauffeur headed home and the girls stayed back for some rest and relaxation. No kids, no dishes, it was hard to come back to reality. It was a perfect way to decompress. I love that more day-only relays are popping up. They are a fun way to bond, make memories and get out of a training rut. You don’t lose sleep with the shorter ones and get to head home energized, instead of sleep deprived. The Three Capes Relay was just what this mom needed; a challenging workout and some girl time. My family appreciated me coming back refreshed and calm, instead of my usual frazzled state. Regardless of our finishing time, we all won in the end, a great relay that I hope to see take off.