Hood to Coast is a 12-person relay race run across the northwest corner of Oregon. In its 22nd year it boasts being the "largest relay race in the world". So popular is this race that the 1000 team capacity is more than reached on the date that entries are opened. That date is some 10 months in advance of the race and some expeditious, though unfortunate teams don't get selected so they don't get to run.
The race starts at 6000 feet above sea level at the base ski lodge of Mt. Hood and rolls down nearly 200 miles of road to the beach at the small town of Seaside, OR. Members take turns running their official glow in the dark, team wristband between designated exchange points where they hand off to their next teammate. The race has a total of 36 legs, so each team member gets three legs that average about 5˝ miles.
Our team, originally intended to be an all girls team, was captained by the determined Jennifer Hoke. Jenn found it difficult to get 12 girls to commit so she switched over to an Open Mixed team. She pitched, recruited, cajoled and replaced teammates right up to the week of the race. Members were mostly drawn from Run Chicago track club as well as her still running college friends. By race morning we were all in Portland, OR and organized into two race vans. #1, "Van Go" was driven by Irene and featured (in running order) Tracy Pepoon, Bill Thom, Jacob Gonzalez, Aimee Salemi, Allan Parangao, Michelle Thom. #2, "I Van the Terrible" was driven by JB with runners (in order) Jenn, Amanda Devincentis, Adrian Campbell, Dave Sarocka, Sarah Sharon, David Watkins. Also making the trip to man hotel base camp and communications was Joe Salemi.
The race is organized to spread traffic evenly along the course. Teams are seeded and start in "waves" every fifteen minutes from 8:00am -to- 7:45pm. Somehow our team 'Da Bulls' (note: requested team name, 'Having Fun Between the Legs' was censored from the official race program) was seeded in the last wave. This made for a lonely start but as the race progressed we were able to catch other teams and enjoy more of "race feeling".
That race feeling was infectious and quickly all members of Da Bulls caught over achieving fever. The night went by in a blur of handoffs then loading up the van and rushing to the next exchange. Sleep came in small amounts and cramped quarters. By morning we found ourselves at the halfway point, six minutes faster than our aggressive predicted pace.
The more teams we passed the more traffic our drivers had to negotiate. Also, lines for the porta-potty were noticeably longer (how hard is that to notice?). We discovered that running the country roads of Oregon in the afternoon can be hot and sweaty and yes, there were many long, multi-mile uphill sections. When Van Go made our final exchange to I Van the Terrible it was nearing 2:15pm, now more than fifteen minutes ahead of our projected schedule.
Van Go followed an alternate route toward Seaside, OR and became part of the three mile backup entering the tiny town. We made it to the crowded beach and found the two other Run Chicago teams that were participating. 'Run Chicago Mix' placed 2nd / 65 in the Mixed Submasters category in 20:59! We watched 'Run Chicago' girls come in 4th / 29 in the Women's Open division, with a great time of 24:39.
True to form and 28 minutes ahead of projections, David, our anchor leg led Da Bulls down the beach to the ceremonial finish. Hugs and photos ensued. Beers and other liquid refreshments followed. While celebrating and filling out the times on our team worksheet we learned that we had placed 8th of 283 teams in the Open Mixed division. Our finishing time was 22:22:37.
Do you have 11 running friends? Get them together and get in next years Hood to Coast relay. We'll be there -but- don't look for 'Da Bulls'… next year were coming out uncensored, unabashedly and always 'Having Fun Between the Legs'.
Want to see more? Check out the Hood to Coast Relay website: www.hoodtocoast.com. There you'll find complete information of the race, it's history and Official 2003 Results!