This was my first year running Leg 4, after two years of mercifully being given the easier legs (2 and 5), and I was looking forward to running at about my 10k race pace with a nice, 2-mile downhill to kick things off.
Because our team didn’t have to wait for runners at the first few exchanges, Abby and I were pretty mellow as we cheered them on and then went to wait at the next exchange to collect gloves or gear that was no longer wanted. And we were total weenies. At the first exchange, we barely even got out of the car because it was super cold, windy, and there was even some small pea-sized hail. We made sure Nikki & Marya were okay and then headed to the next exchange, so when we got to the start of leg 4, we were content to sit in the warm car.
I was having one of those days where everything I drank just went right through me, and I contemplated going to the porta-potty again when all of a sudden I saw Nikki and Marya coming up the hill. Luckily, we were parked right by the exchange, so I hopped out and headed down the road.
“Down” … literally.
The first two miles are fast. My first mile logged at 7:05, and my 5k PR is 23:15. 7:05 is not usually a sustainable pace, but this didn’t even feel like I was working hard! So, especially considering how challenging the previous leg was, this was just a cake walk, er … run.
The route is absolutely beautiful for the first four miles, as you run out of the forest. The road was not slick at all, and despite the un-congested exchanges, I was passing or being passed on a very regular basis and could always see quite a few other participants. Once you get down the hill, the road opens up and flattens out, and there’s one chance to go to the bathroom, which you can see on my Strava record, just after the 4-mile mark. I decided I’d rather not have to think about it the next three miles and jumped at my chance.
The final flat three miles are through some wide open farmland, and I was reminded of another great thing about this race: the locals give runners and walkers a wide berth. I am not sure if the race makes announcements ahead of time or Oregon Coast residents are all just that nice, but it’s much appreciated. Here, the sun came out and I felt pretty lucky, again, to have Leg 4. (I have to stop saying that or I’ll be given Leg 3 next year … )
The exchange at the end of Leg 4 kind of sneaks up on you. If you don’t have a GPS watch to know how close you are the finish, it can be a pleasant surprise. I spotted it with about a quarter-mile to go, and after a quick greeting to Abby, I was done for the day.
A few other thoughts about this relay:
- There are many repeat volunteers. The exchange monitor at Exchange 4 has been there all four years that I’ve run this relay, and he remembers teams. He does a great job keeping runners out of the exchange and reminding them to watch for traffic, all with a smile on his face.
- The Three Capes Relay is a really laid-back affair – so much so, that our team was frequently asking each other what time our runner had started. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start a stopwatch with each runner’s leg, otherwise you’ll be like us … “SHOOT THERE SHE IS!” This is not about the relay, just our mellow approach to it because it’s such a well-run event.
- You may consider running two teams at this relay, so that you can pair people with pretty comparable pace. We may do that next year, especially if there are more of us that want to collect more miles and run more than one at a time.
- Plan to hang out at the finish. The Pelican Brewery has all hands on deck to keep up with the runners, and their food and local beers are amazing. And tip your servers – they are amazing! It didn’t work out for our team to stay at the beach this year, but it’s a really easy way to turn a fun relay into a relaxing weekend.