Race Preview: 2019 Three Capes Relay (Cape Meares to Pacific City)

Relays are fun and they come in many formats, from one day to two day, from short distance legs to long, from flat to moderately hilly to just plain insane elevation gain. Relays can be run solo or with as many as a dozen of your closest, sweatiest friends. Running in a relay is an awesome experience, and if you have yet to jump into one, you might consider making Three Capes Relay your first.

Why, you might ask? Unlike a lot of 1 day relays, which tend to take all day, the Three Capes Relay is 26.2 miles long. That’s it. Just a marathon course (with over 2,400 feet of elevation gain) that starts and ends at sea level. Runners can choose to enter this race by themselves, with a partner, or as a team of 5; because there are 5 legs spread out over the course. The course runs by 6 state parks, 2 national wildlife refuges, multiple county parks, and views that will take your breath away (if the hills don’t).

We have had teams the past few years, and here are a few of our quotes:


There are many things I loved about this race:

  • Great RD and awesome local feel
  • Unique location and unique race
  • The ability to hang out with Run Oregon friends and make new ones
  • Challenging and rewarding
  • Beautiful weather (though I know that can’t ever be guaranteed)
  • Finish at Pelican Brewery (mmm…beer)

I texted my wife as I took a little “ice bath” in the ocean about 3 miles from Joe’s finish. As I looked at the waves crashing in, the vibrant blue skies overhead, and the warmth from a 60+ degree sun overhead (in February!), I typed that this was probably the best race ever.


This race, benefiting the Tillamook High School track and XC programs, offers an option for a solo marathon, a two-person team or a five-person team. Before we get into the recap, the Run Oregon team would all like to thank and recognize the race organizers and volunteers AND the courteous drivers of Tillamook County. Never before have we noticed drivers on the open course so consistently giving runners a comfortably wide berth, smiles and waves.


The Three Capes Relay is a good race. Put on by a volunteer RD, raising money for high school athletics, and supported by great local businesses, it’s the opposite of a hyped-up roadkill-collecting relay. Don’t get me wrong – there are some fast runners on the course – but there are also marathoners running solo, teams of walkers, and pairs of teams that sign up so that each of their runners has a buddy from another team to run with. The course is accurate, safe, and beautiful, the registration fee is low and goes to a good cause, and the post-race clam chowder and beer, not to mention the finisher’s medal and race shirt, are top-notch.


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.

Beyond the beauty of the Oregon Coast, Three Capes Relay is an inexpensive race, to be sure. The cost per person, for a 5 runner team, is only $35! And part of the proceeds go to benefit Tillamook High School!

When: Saturday, February 23rd. Race starts at 9am (for most teams)

Register: Online or offline, start here.


About Author

Ultra runner with an ice cream addiction.

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