Last year Run Oregon was one of the lucky teams to receive a special invitation to test a new one-day relay course. Obviously, we jumped at the chance to run the unofficial Hood to Hood Relay and loved every mile of it. This year, the Gorgeous Series Hood to Hood was an official event and we couldn’t miss out on the inaugural run. Last year we threw together a last minute team and that tradition carried on this year. Rather last minute, we decided to make a date day out of it with my girlfriend and our husbands. While the husbands might not completely agree, it was one of the best dates ever.The race is a 12-leg race, and teams can have up to six runners. The first leg this year started at Government Camp, instead of Timberline and we were missing the sunny skies from last year. It was a quick hop out of the car to get our race goodies and then right back in until our wave started. I was immediately impressed. With our race packet and bibs, they included ‘RUNNER ON ROAD’ which I thought was a nice touch. I will admit, I was a little nervous hearing there were only two waves for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t want us to come in last and, secondly, I was concerned I might get lost without runners and vans to follow. Both ended up being ridiculous concerns, like most things we stress over.
I had the first leg, which was on the shorter side, but always makes me nervous for whatever reason. Leg one, sets the pace for the team and starts off with the pack, so there’s a little added pressure, though it’s probably self created. That stress quickly faded when I passed off to Corey. We all picked our own legs and I was pleasantly surprised that Corey requested leg two, it was definitely the hardest of the day. I was even more impressed with how he attacked the hills. Actually, it just seemed like one big, long hill and that was from the comfort of the car. I can only imagine what he was thinking along that 6+ mile stretch.
Corey passed off to Shelly and I knew she’d be at the exchange point fast, since it was a decent descent and I was right. Fortunately, the sun started to break through and the views were spectacular. The exchange points seemed to come along faster and faster as we made our way towards Hood River. There isn’t an ugly leg on this course, some serious hills, but it lives up to the gorgeous reputation. What started off as a cold and foggy morning turned into a beautiful and warm finish in Hood River.
Fruit trees, vineyards, and farms pretty much line the course into Hood River and you see almost as many cyclists as motorists along the way. Also lining the course were volunteers, making sure runners stayed safe and going the right direction. There is always a great sense of camaraderie on these runs and its fun cheering on all the runners along the way. You get to know teams as you hang out at the exchange points. I love getting to know runners, hearing about their other events and sharing the joys of a day hopping in and out of the van. You’ll also find the race directors all along the course and at various exchange points, which is pretty rare. One van had a dead battery and needed a jump, noting they could text Kerry, the race director. A Good Samaritan gave them a jump, but not many race directors are that accessible. It’ just one of the many reasons I love the Gorgeous Series.
We made it into Hood River with plenty of time and I don’t think we came close to being the last finishers, so my worries were unfounded. At the finish line there was Pfriem beer, Kombucha and energy bars to re-fuel. Happy runners were sprawled out on the grass, soaking in the sun and enjoying the view across the Columbia. We were tempted with a food cart at the finish line, but decided to split up our drive home with a stop for dinner. It was pretty much a perfect way to end our date day. The finisher’s medal and pint glass are perfect keepsakes for a fun day at the mountain and in the Gorge. Words can’t express how much I love this series- with local race directors supporting local business, there’s a unique vibe with their events. You’re more than just another bib number. Plus I appreciate their efforts and I love an excuse to go explore our beautiful state so much so, that I’ve agreed to run the Gorgeous Series Wine Country Relay with the Run Oregon crew. For a girl who isn’t really into the relay scene, it’s pretty impressive that they keep me coming back and excited about it.