I hate to knock that “other” two day relay that Oregon is famous for, but the Wild Rogue Relay is now my favorite two-day 200+ mile running journey for many reasons. I’m an experienced relay runner (both one-day and two-day options), and with a full race calendar this year, I had to carefully consider Wild Rogue. I’m spending a lot of my time away from my family on the road or trails these days, and I’ve already decided I need to scale way back on races next year. I needed to know if Wild Rogue was worth the fuss of several days away, especially on Father’s Day weekend. Maybe much to my hubby’s dismay, my answer to this is. Yes. Yes it is.
First, lets talk about the crowds. Some relays have so many teams out on the road that the vans can’t get to their runners. Sometimes the vehicles can’t even ever stop and rest because they are stuck in so much traffic. The Wild Rogue Relay limits the quantities to 85 teams. This is the perfect number — you’re still surrounded by the camaraderie of the relay community and hanging out with fun people both on the roads and off, but it’s more intimate as you see the same faces over and over. Also, there’s never any trouble finding your team or your van at the exchanges. Lastly, did I mention there’s no traffic? That’s a big one. No clogging up the roads, hurray!!!!
Second, this relay is very well organized. All of the volunteers were where they needed to be and there was signage wherever there was a questionable turn. (BTW, HUGE shout out to the volunteers! They were all helpful, pleasant, and spread out at good intervals.) One of my legs, dubbed “The Clown Puncher,” had road, trail, sand dunes, and more trail and road. If not for proper signage, I would have gotten really turned around in a few places. There was never a point in the entire relay where I questioned where to go. And this is saying something, as everyone who knows me knows how easily I get lost and how directionally challenged I am.
Speaking of well-organized, I was completely blown away by the system that was set up for van 2 at the school where you stop after the first handoff back to van 1. As you drive into the parking lot, a volunteer checks in your team name and number. From there, you head into the school where you can purchase a hot shower and towel for $5, grab some food, and rest in a designated spot that is marked with your team name and number. When van 1 gets to exchange 16, the volunteer at the school is notified to come find your team and/or wake you up so that you have enough time to head to exchange 18 for the next handoff with van 1, about 45 minutes away. Easy peasy! No wondering where the other van is and whether they got there early or late, no trying to calculate when to get up and packed or searching for them in the middle of the night. All taken care of, BOOM!!
As for the running itself, this is a beautiful and scenic relay. You start near Medford and run into Brookings, and Southern Oregon is so very beautiful! My first leg was hot (2p) and long (9 miles) but gorgeous despite the lack of shade. My second leg was in the middle of the night and invigorating with a full moon, trees blowing in the breeze, and the sounds of streams off to my right. I never wanted the 8.3 mile night leg to end because it was so peaceful. The Clown Puncher, the last leg, was totally amazing, with the best views I’ve ever experienced. The ocean is off to the right of the trail and the reason this leg took me so long to finish is because I wanted to soak the scenery in as much as possible. There are a lot of miles at Wild Rogue (about 220 in total) and many challenging legs, but it is SO worth the hurt.
Lastly, the perks of the Wild Rogue were top notch. Not only is there FREE Dutch Brothers at many exchanges, you’ll also get a t-shirts, a medal, and a pint glass. There are even free massages. You’ll also get a well-earned beer at the after party which is worth the journey, with live music, food trucks, and lots of freebies going around.
I can’t wait to run this relay again. Maybe I can convince my husband to run it so he can celebrate Father’s Day surrounded by the beauty of Southern Oregon.