Fast forward to late last year. My friend Brianna put in for a team and informed me that I was on it. I never thought in a million years we would get in. Well, we did. I could not pass up the chance to participate in this event with the awesome group of ladies we assembled. Our “Dream Team”. Luckily we had a few vets on our team that showed us the ropes. We were also fortunate enough for one of our teammates to secure a Waste Management sponsorship to help offset the race day expenses!! With our borrowed Van situations, custom T-shirts complete with trashy nicknames and last-minute replacement all falling into place we were ready to go on Race Day!! The “Trash Talkin’ Dream Team” was ready to hit the course!
I was in Van 1, so we drove up to Timberline Lodge for our 10am start. The weather could not have been any more perfect! The sky was crystal clear and even though it was 44 degrees out, it felt MUCH warmer! All the teams had such great energy! We took some pictures and at 10am sharp we sent our first runner down the hill!
Our plan was to drop our runner, check the traffic situation and if conditions permitted stop along the way to cheer our runner, if not we would just head right to the next exchange. For our first legs, it was a lot of “hurry up and wait”. But we were all having a BLAST. I ran leg 6, so when it was finally my turn to run, I grabbed the slap bracelet and stood in the chute for a few seconds before saying “oh, I guess this is part where I run now” and off I took for a 6.75 mile run in the middle of the day into Sandy. I ran down the hill into the craziness that was the exchange, I saw my Van 2 teammate and passed off to her smoothly! When I got back in the van, my teammates asked me how my run was, I said Hood to Coast is pretty fun except for the running part!
We took a little break for some dinner and then after a few hours headed out to the Hawthorne Bridge. Our leg 13 runner geared up for night-time running and we walked out to find the exchange. What a mess! Between the bikers and the runners and the spectators – I have no idea how we made the handoff, but these things have a way of working out. The volunteers were amazing! They had their work cut out for them and they did a GREAT job! We were back on the clock ready to tear up some road! We easily made all our exchanges and even heard about the Leg 17 re-routing due to the Les Schwab fire. Our leg 17 runner did some grumbling about the added 1.8 miles but out of all us, she could handle it the best. We fed her a bunch of chocolate covered espresso beans and sent her on her way (looking back, maybe that was not the best idea at 1am). My leg 18 was up and it was an experience running at 1:30 am on some back country roads, but it was also pretty cool, too. Everyone that passed me (and I got passed a fair amount) said “good job”. I felt very safe the entire time. I ran into the Columbia County Fairgrounds to pass off to Van 2 and then our team headed to Exchange 24 to get some rest so we could be ready for Van 2 again.
About 20 minutes after leaving Exchange 18, the Hood to Coast that we all expected appeared: less than specific directions in the book and traffic, really bad and lots of it! After sitting in about 90 minutes of traffic, we arrived to the entrance of the Exchange 24 parking lot and we were told the lot is full and they don’t know what to tell us. We went in anyway and found parking in 5 minutes. We laid our tarps in the field and crawled into sleeping bags hoping to get a tiny bit of sleep. I zonked out pretty quick and sprung awake at 6:10 am. I figured our runner could come through as early as 7am. I stood in line for 20 mins to use the porta potty and went to check out the exchange. The report was traffic was lined up for 3 miles and there was HUGE line of runners with slap bracelets and NO teams. I was happy that would not happen to our team. While our runner got ready, I hung out at the exchange just to make sure we didn’t miss our incoming runner. Somehow during this time, a miraculous text came through on my phone after HOURS of no service. “6:50 am- Sending Deb your way”. VAN 2 was on track and VAN 1 was ready. It was awesome! Our Van 2 runner came charging down the road and we were proudly waiting for her! We left the pretty much volunteer-less exchange to see what messes were ahead.
It was more of the same – we would immediately drive to the next exchange, barely make it before the runner, stand in line at the porta potty’s and not get to use them because we had to get back on the road. At Exchange 28, it happened…our runner passed us while we were stuck in traffic. We were close to the exchange, but none of us had used a bathroom in hours, so we decided we would just eat it, take care of what we needed and go on. Again, by some miracle, there was NO LINE for the porta potty’s at Exchange 28. Huh? The last 4 exchanges had at LEAST 150 people in line, this one has none?
Van 1 was almost done with our running! The only problem was I was having such a good time in the Van, I didn’t want to get out and run my leg. My stomach hurt so bad from laughing, I thought I was going to hurl. My runner came and now I was off to intercept Van 2. Let me tell you coming down the hill into Exchange 30 was awesome! It was busy, but manageable. Van 2 hightailed it out of there and Van 1 headed to the beach!!
When our team came across the finish line it was pretty awesome! After all the years I was a “Hood to Coast hater”. I can officially say: I eat my words. That was the most fun I have every had! And even though the traffic was bad and I had some choice words for it at the time, like my teammate Melissa said, “It’s all part of the fun!”