In 2017, I was introduced to the Gorgeous Relay Series. Having done several relays in the past, some good and some simply memorable, I was eager to try one of the Gorgeous races to see how they measured up. I’d heard that they lived up to their title – Epic and beautiful – and I loved that they were only ONE day relays, something that was much easier for this busy working mom who had a hard time disappearing for entire weekends and coming home more tired than ever. Now having completed all of the Gorgeous Relays but one (Gorgeous Hood to Hood, I’m coming for you eventually!) and many of the free pub runs they host in non-pandemic times, I’ve come to realize that the Gorgeous Relays are my favorite relays for many reasons. Below, I’ve outlined all of my Gorgeous Relay experiences.
July 16th, 2017 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay: My first Gorgeous Relay was memorable for a few reasons. Our team was an all female blogger team from Run Oregon and it was the first time I had met any of them in person. If you relay, you know it’s a gamble to do so with strangers, but I knew we all had many things in common and how can you go wrong out in Wine Country? It was as wonderful as I had hoped it would be and simply stunning out at the wineries that we were fortunate enough to get to visit at the exchanges. All were gorgeous, as promised, and very welcoming, many with wine waiting for us. It was also refreshing to have such a small race without all the van crowds and stress over clogged roads. Many of the locations would not have been able to accommodate much more and it was fun getting to know all the other teams we kept running into along the course. There were only two wave starts, and it began out at Argyle Winery. Everyone was cheery and happy, and it was easy sometimes to forget we were there to run roughly 50 miles as a team. There were 5 of us on a team and 12 legs, so me and Teresa each ran 3 legs to make up for a missing person. It was hot outside but completely breathtaking, and this was the first time I really got to see how well the Gorgeous organizers do planning these races to give runners the maximum experience. Also, there’s a big party at the end!
October 8th, 2017, Gorgeous Coast Relay (unofficial): This was probably the funnest relay I’ve ever done in my relay life. This was a bit of a test run, meaning that there were no race bibs and no “official” volunteers that year. Luckily, the Gorgeous community has a wonderful team of people who are always willing to help out, and though I was initially worried about getting lost when I found out no one technically “had” to be there to point the way, I had no reason to fret. This race started at the Astoria Column and it was amazing up on that hill with views of the coast. It also turned out to be a sunny day which is lucky for October. (Side note: This race has had great weather every year so far, but we all know the Oregon Coast is not generally so forgiving in October. I expect this luck will eventually run out.) I got to start this relay on leg 1 and actually saw a deer on that super peaceful morning. This relay was probably the most creative of all the relays, with Exchange 4 being on top of a jetty observation tower and a couple legs out on the beach in the sand. Vehicles were allowed on the beach to cheer on their team members, though our team hadn’t prepared so well (no 4WD/AWD.) The second to last leg was in Ecola Park which appeared pretty epic, though Kelly Barten was lucky enough to get that one. The relay ended in Cannon Beach near the lookout by the giant whale statue. Since it wasn’t official, there was no big finish line to celebrate at, but we all got a free beer at Public Coast and it was so much fun!
May 18th, 2019, Gorgeous Portland Pub Relay: I was really happy I got to do the Portland Pub Relay in 2019 because I had missed out on it in 2018. There are other beer runs throughout Oregon, but I love that this one is local and unique. It’s Scavenger Hunt-style in that you aren’t told beforehand what the route will look like. All you know is that the exchanges are at breweries somewhere in downtown Portland and it’s a marathon distance, so you can pick as many or as few people as you want to run the legs. You start your first leg at a pub, in this case Vagabond Brewing, where you are given a route map to the next exchange. You get a new route map at every stop, so it’s always a nice surprise. There are tasters of beer at every stop, and the weather is generally warm. Our team, dubbed “The Squad,” decided to have a little fun with this one and we opted to throw all of our driver’s licenses in a hat to draw for the order we were going to run. We also decided, since we were all regular runners, that we would run in pairs so everyone could run twice and have someone to run with. It worked out great! Our team was so much fun that we vowed to run more Gorgeous races together as a team. We finished the race, had some more celebratory beer, and vowed to do the race again next year. Unfortunately .. Covid.
July 14th, 2019 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay: My 2nd year running the Wine Country Relay was as fun as it was the first year. We had most of our Squad from the Pub Relay back in action for this one, and it was hot but scenic out in Wine Country once again. Our team was in the 3rd and last wave of the relay and we decided to draw names from a hat to determine the order we ran just as we had done for the Portland Pub Relay. At the last minute, I decided to run the last leg with Kelly so I could get some last miles in. The only disappointment of this race was that the food truck at the finish ran out of the macaroni and cheese before I could mosey over there. However, that was really my fault, because I was having too much fun doing some wine tasting before I went in for food at the after-party. However, one of my teammates assured me that it was delicious, so I’ll be sure to swoop in for food first next time! Luckily, Kelly randomly brought a yummy homemade pie so we devoured that as my consolation prize.
September 15th, 2019 Gorgeous Relay: The Squad was reunited for this, the original Gorgeous Relay that started it all!! Our group decided to wear costumes for this relay, as many other teams do. We thought it would make the team feel that much more connected, and also because, why not? So on that rainy day in September, we weren’t just Gorgeous Runners .. We were the ladies of GLOW (The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrunning, in case you didn’t know.) The weather was horrible but our spirits were not dampened in the least. We reached the Vista House, the symbol of all things Gorgeous, under gray skies and in our wet soggy running shoes. It was SO. Fun!!
Unfortunately, we are all missing out on fun times this year due to the pandemic. Generally, the Gorgeous team keeps us going all year long with their races as well as monthly pub runs across Portland and Vancouver. There are raffle giveaways and a fun community vibe that makes everyone feel welcome. Their routes are well thought out, wonderfully organized, and truly unforgettable journeys.
There are a lot of virtual races happening this year so our runners can feel like there is something to motivate them, but we all know that it’s not the same. Most of the events I described above are not possible without our friends with us, but the Gorgeous Series still deserves our support. They have been with us through so much, and they will be back.
If you are considering signing up for anything this year, consider doing the 2020 Gorgeous VIRTUAL Relay. Every runner on your team will run or walk the legs in order, one at a time, anywhere they wish to! You have a chance to win raffle prizes along the way and there are photo contests throughout September. The cost is very affordable for a team and you can make it into whatever you want! Our team, The Squad, plans to at least be together in spirit. We have picked a day where we will all run, and we will all pick designated legs like we would in person. Some of us might even do some of it together, in a safe socially distanced way. I encourage you to find some friends and do this one however you feel comfortable doing so, and make it fun. Call each other on Bluetooth headphones while you run, wear costumes, or go to fun locations and take lots of pictures. Just.Keep.Moving!!
What: 2020 Gorgeous VIRTUAL Relay
When: Pick a day in September and make it magical! Runners are encouraged to run on Sunday September 13th, which would have been the day of the race, but pick what works for your team!
Where: Anywhere, USA!
Cost: $30 for a team of 5-6 runners, $20 for a team of 3-4 runners, $10 for a team of 2, and $5 for one Hard Core individual runner.