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Race Recap: Team Run Oregon at the Inaugural 2018 Hood To Coast High Desert (part 3)

So how did the race go? You never know how an inaugural race will end up going. Sometimes, there are major changes the next year and a lot of “well, we didn’t anticipate THAT” sort of moments. But having done a lot of Hood To Coast events in the past, everyone on our team felt pretty confident that the race organizers would get this one right.

Nikki’s Final Thoughts: I had the pleasure of running ALL of the Hood To Coast races in Oregon this year. I did Hood To Coast Pacific City, Hood To Coast Washington, The Original “Mother of All Relays” Hood To Coast,  and finally Hood To Coast High Desert. The pattern I saw with all of them was that the courses were well marked and very well organized. There were not a lot of volunteers out on the course except for at major roads and exchanges, but the signage was on point. They even spray painted the ground with their logo and arrows to let you know that you were headed in the right direction.

Speaking of volunteers, every single one that I encountered was pleasant, helpful, and great at manning both foot and road traffic. I’ve done a lot of relays in the last couple of years, and the Hood To Coast ones are among some of the best when it comes to keeping everyone on track.

Any relay runner will tell you that you are only as good as your team. If you don’t mesh well, it could make an already long day seem endless. Luckily, this wasn’t the case with our Run Oregon team. We had a great time together, and despite all being at different phases in our lives with different things navigating us, we were all runners in this together, and that bonded us.

It was obvious that someone, (a race director genius perhaps,) thought out the course and it was a gorgeous slice of Central Oregon. There was something beautiful everywhere, and though challenging, the scenery was worth that well-earned sweat. The weather was not ideal but everyone made the best of it. What else can you expect for Oregon in October? It could have been much worse.

I liked the size of this race, as the exchanges were easy to navigate and the community feel was there. We saw a lot of the same people throughout the race, and it began to feel like family. I look forward to doing this relay again in the future.

Drew’s Final Thoughts: Wow, where to start! I rolled into Saturday morning on a little more than 4 hours sleep. Waking up at 2 am knowing there were 3 strangers in my home probably should have knocked me off my game, and yet, from the moment we all got up, we all got along. Maybe it’s because we all knew what we had to do, or maybe we just weren’t awake yet, but either way, we leaned into the early morning and saddled up the van. The day got off to a rather weird start on our drive to the starting line. As we cruised toward Brasada Ranch, an owl landed in the street directly in front of me and unfortunately became my first road kill of the day. It was a sad moment, but an unavoidable one none the less.

As the rain began to fall while Heather was out on her first leg, I had taken command of the driving as the van belonged to a friend of mine, so I was feeling like I should probably be the main driver. I was really wanting to support our runners during each leg and was so consumed with making sure we got off to a good start that I lost track of how far we were into the first leg. As we neared the exchange, Annette had already told me she wanted to get there a little early so she could be prepared, but I mistook how much we had left and actually pulled into the exchange as Heather was 30 seconds out from finishing. Our runner had to wait about a minute for Annette because I had failed to keep track of mileage from the start. Oops. Fortunately, it couldn’t get any worse after that, so I figured everything would be downhill from then on. And then we got to exchange #4.

As we were walking back to the van after our runners had made their swap, I noticed that the passenger side front tire was nearly flat. I immediately alerted the team and we all realized that this was something we would have to deal with in the next 30 minutes. But we had a runner out on the course and I was the next one up, so in my head I was freaking out just a little. So we made a plan to catch up to our runner and let her know that we would leave a water bottle on a guard-rail post at the halfway point and then continue on to the exchange where we would be frantically changing a tire. Race ahead we did and soon we were parked along the side of the road at exchange #5. I went into fix-it mode and soon had the tools out and was loosening the lugs. But 1 of them was giving me trouble so I got the spare ready, jacked the van up and then set to removing the tire. The one lug nut that didn’t want to come off ended up snapping at the rotor, leaving the stud inside the lug nut. In a way, the whole thing seemed comical but I knew we would get through it. Sure enough, we got everything put back together long before our runner came in, giving me a chance to relax a little before heading out for my second run of the day.

From then on, most everything was a breeze comparatively. The finish seemed like a blur as we got together under the finish line banner for a final team shot. Even though we were technically a runner down, it felt like a full, fun team atmosphere the entire day. Annette, Nikki, Meg, Heather and I had a lot of laughs together as we traveled 75 miles across the back roads of Central Oregon. We even got to interview the CEO of Hood to Coast relays after it was all done! Jude Hubber was a good sport and it was really good to ask him a few questions and pick his brain for next year, as well as get his feedback from this first Hood to Coast relay in Central Oregon. If you’re interested in hearing more about our experience, as well as some great feedback from Jude, check out this amazing recap from KBND News in Bend. As for me, I am certainly looking forward to doing this one again. But remember, #dontbetheowl.

Annette’s Final Thoughts: I will admit, the week before this event I was losing my enthusiasm for driving all the way over to Central Oregon to run with mostly strangers. And yet, I knew I would enjoy it once I got there. From the moment I arrived at Drew and Heather’s house, it was like all of us already knew each other. We just kind of settled right in. I’ve run relays with other teams and it seems like there’s always some drama. Despite some craziness, we all took it in stride and focused on the main goal – getting to the finish line together.

HTC High Desert did not feel like a first year event. It was well-organized and, except for one section of unmarked trail, it went smoothly. The two things I liked most about this relay was that it was a 1 day relay, and that it was a smaller event – not crowded and stressful. Will I run this one again? Definitely! I highly recommend you put this one on your relay bucket list.

Meg’s Final Thoughts: The original Hood to Coast (now called the Hood to Coast: The Mother of All Relays) was on my bucket list soon after I became a runner. Completing a marathon and surviving those two days in a van seemed like the epitome of runner-ness. I had the opportunity to be on a team in August 2013 (right after I started a doctoral program; aka face-palm life decision) and then again, the following year. With two medals hanging on the wall, I was ready to never sleep in a field again.

The expansion of HTC into one-day relays was therefore an exciting prospect to me as a way to get the benefits of team collaboration and a challenging double-day run, without the sleeping bags and minimal sleep for two days. When Run Oregon had the opportunity to send a team to participate in this inaugural event, my hand shot into the air as a volunteer. Then I remembered that I’m a blogger, so no one can see me and I need to email about my interest. “Pick me. Pick me. Pick me.”

In my previous portions of this recap I’ve already shared about my Leg 5 and Leg 11 running experiences. This time I want to highlight the magic that is running. Before 3pm on Friday, October 5, 2018, I had not gotten to meet any of my fellow Run Oregon bloggers in person. I had been writing with this crew for over six months, but outside of Facebook chats and liking pictures, did not know any of these fine folks. But within 36 hours I got to know a few of these fellow runners as friends, and to see so much of my journey in theirs. We connected over common races, injury experiences, work balance attempts, family confusion (“You’re paying how much to run?”), and the continued pursuit of the next adventure. While we have different family, work, and living situations; running provided us with a common ground to become friends and encourage one another through 75 miles of rain, hills, owls, cows, muffins, water bottles, port-a-potties, and tiny arrows pointing the right way home.

And then, praise be the one-day relay, I went home to sleep 10 hours straight in a normal bed.

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About Nikki Mueller (333 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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