The Triple Crown of NW Relay Running
If you asked me a two years ago if I would consider myself passionate about running I would have laughed and respond with stories about my passions for cycling, skiing, boarding, fishing, eating and most of all having adventures with friends. So it is pretty startling to say now that I have run three relays this summer.
A Cross Country Relay is a team of 12 people running in sequence for about 200 mile with 6 people in 2 van running 3 segments of 3-7 mile per leg over 36 legs.
It all started in late December 2009 with Josh asking me to join his Cascade Lakes relay guys team, “The Bast Fastards” for the July 2010 run. I had never run more than 3-4 miles prior to that did not consider myself a runner but I trained . I was ready in July and ran my legs three legs of 7, 5, 3.1 miles with no injury and no walking. It was a very rewarding experience and I was psyched to do it again the following year. I wrote a post about it last year.
For 2011 The Bast Fastards decided to get together again but for a different relay. We selected the Ragnar which runs 190 miles from Blaine, WA (at the Canadian Boarder) to Whidbey Island, WA (near Seattle) on July 22nd (288 teams). I was runner 4 (5.4, 4.1 & 2.9). We stated at 9:00AM finished in 25:35:25. Check out the photos.
- Highlights: Was able to watch sun rise and sun set. Amazing view of the Washington coast. Lots of small towns so easy to get food/drink/cell coverage/gas. Cheep beer at end. Great signage with “1 mile to go” near the end of each leg. Friendly volunteers and staff. Sweet iPhone app that syncs between vans and estimates handoff times. Plenty of space to pull over and support your runner. Showers after third handoff.
- Challengs: traffic lights and a few trains cause runner to wait
As we were planning for Ragnar a few of us remembered how exciting the Cascade Lakes Relay was and wanted to do it again. I was up for it and my lovely wife was happy to volunteer. The Cascade Lake Relay (160 teams) was on Aug 5th and ran 216.6 miles from Diamond Lake to Bend, Oregon. I was runner 8 (3.9, 3.1 & 4.0). We stated at 6:45AM and finished in 32:29:19. Photos from Ragnar.
- Highlights: Since I had done it before I knew the course. Lots of space between runners and to pull off to support runners. Other teams were very friendly. Amazing views of Mt. Bachelor. Sleeping in La Pine high school gym on cots.
- Challenges: Huge temperature swings (90-50) at high altitude, misquotes and fly, my third leg was 900ft up hill over 4 miles (had to walk a little).
AND I was also invited to run the Hood to Coast 200 mile relay from the top of Mt. Hood at Timberline Lodge to Seaside, Oregon on August 26 (1,250 teams). I was runner 3 (3.9, 7.25, 5.8). We started at 8:15AM and finished in 27:24:13. Photos from Hood to Coast.
- Highlights: Great team of folks, The Mother of all Relays (on the bucket list), close to home for showers and rest, surprised to have two running buddies starting at same time and running the same legs
- Challenges:21,000 runners (3,000 more than last year), 2,500 vans on the road, finding a safe place to sleep in coastal mountains, $6 pints at finish line, no music while running, There were so many people running that it caused huge traffic delays where sometimes runners got to the hand off faster than their team. So many people complained the relay organizers admitted to allowing too many people in the relay. Local news covered it.
Thought on the relay and things to remember for next year.
- Pack light: 1 set of street clothes, 3 running outfits, 2 pair of running shoes, towel, sleeping bag, air mattress, pillow, sweatshirt/track pants, bug spray, sun screen, baby wipes.
- Water: One person should bring cooler, ice and 2 cases of water for the van.
- Food: Each person covers their own food, no need to bring extra. Only bring what you would normally eat over 24 hours plus one bag of chips and an energy bar or two. Plan to stop between van handoffs for a real meal.
- Van: Being in Van 1 is better than Van 2. Done sooner, run in cooler hours and able to sleep over 2-3am time slot.