Course Preview: Hills & Views at the 2017 Three Capes Relay


If you are looking to do a relay early in the year with breathtaking views, no lottery to get in, and less of a time commitment than that OTHER relay that happens much later in the year when the weather is hot, check out the Three Capes Relay on Februrary 25th which features the Three Capes Scenic Loop, (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda.) Did I mention there are HILLS?  If you adore running on rugged courses with plenty of steep climbs and stunning beach views, you really need to do this race at least once in your running career, as this one does not disappoint. You’ll start and end at sea level and there is nearly 2,400 feet of climb within the course, so you will for sure get your legs screaming and build up a good sweat while looking at pretty things. The relay is a marathon’s distance of 26.2 miles, so you can either run the whole distance alone, get a partner to switch off with, or you can get a team of 5 together to divvy up the legs. Trying to decide which leg is best for you? Take a peek below.

Leg 1, 4.47 miles, rated very difficult: Do you love jumping out of a car to do a race and immediately climbing a mountain-like elevation? If you do, this is the perfect leg of the race for you. As soon as you get your running shoes on, you will be greeted with this race’s category 3 climb at the intersection of Bayocean Rd by Cape Meares Lake. Lucky you!! The course rises about 600 feet with a 6% grade, so your quads will surely thank you for this one later. There’s no question this leg earns it’s “very difficult” rating but you’ll get to brag to all your friends about this one later. Once you get through the “famous” initial climb, the course will retreat a bit down to sea level, but if you are really missing the thrill of the hills, there will be a few more to remind you why you’re out there. You’ll have both the Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge and the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge to look forward to seeing, and you’ll also pass Cape Meares Lighthouse State Park. Once you see Cape Meares Loop Road and Netarts Bay Hwy in Oceanside, you can look forward to your victorious hand-off.

Leg 2, 4.11 miles, rated difficult: Congratulations! If you are running this leg, it means you are running the shortest distance, if you are the type that gets excited for stuff like that. You’ll start at the corner of Netarts Hwy and Cape Meares Loop Road. This leg will have lots of rolling hills, but nothing as bad as the climb that exists on leg 1. This leg has a really beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean overlooking Oceanside and Happy Camp as well as a view of Netarts Bay to help keep your mind off the two category 5 climbs. You’ll finish between Netarts Bay Hwy and Netarts Bay Road.

Leg 3, 6.35 miles, rated extremely difficult: If you were given this leg of the race, you must be a strong runner, so consider yourself very lucky to have this honor. You’ll start this leg along the gorgeous Netarts Bay and you’ll be greeted with about 3.5 miles of pretty flat terrain. Just when you are beginning to wonder how this leg got it’s “extremely difficult” rating, you’ll have a 3 mile climb of over 800 feet with a 6.5% grade. This is a category 2 climb and the 2nd longest leg, so if you love a challenge, this will likely be your best chance for this race. You will also have the fortune of some really beautiful views of Netarts Bay, so take full advantage when your body is questioning why you are doing this. When you get to the summit of Cape Lookout State Park, you’ll be able to celebrate your pass-off to Leg 4.

Leg 4, 4.25 miles, rated easy: Believe it or not there is a leg of this race which is considered “easy” and this is it! If this is your leg, you’ll start at the summit of Cape Lookout Rd and you’ll have a negative drop of over 600 feet in your future. This leg starts at the upper park and runs through the dunes of Sand Lake, finishing at the Sand Lake Store. This is not only the easiest leg of the course, but also one of the shortest, so you’ll be done before you know it!

Leg 5, 7.02 miles, rated moderate: Are you ready for a strong finish? This leg is the longest of all of them which is why it’s rated “moderate” so if you like putting in the mileage, this is the leg for you. This leg has only a 167 feet climb and it starts at the Sand Lake Store. You’ll finish on Hungry Harbor Rd, right at the beach of Cape Kiwanda. Once you get here, commence celebration with your team, as you are finished!!

Race Details:

What: Three Capes Marathon Relay, Cape Meares Lake

Where: Intersection of Bayocean Rd NW and Bayshore Drive. Park at Tillamook High School and take shuttle to the start line.

When: February 25th, 2017, 9am

Registration & Cost: 5 person team is $175, 2 person team is $95, Solo Marathon is $65. Race profits shared with Tillamook High School Track.

Packet Pick up: Tillamook High School from 6-8pm Feb 24th. Day of race pickup from 7-8:30am (no new registration.)

About Nikki Mueller (578 Articles)
I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.
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