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Title:2003 Hood to Coast Relay
Date:Friday August 22nd, 2003
Author:Bill Thom
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'.
Click a thumbnail for its larger image.
Jenn wonders if we're forgetting anything in our supply run
Loading up the van
Welcome to Mt. Hood
Teams assemble and are set on their journey
Members of Van Go
Da Bulls teammates
Allan with members of 'Run Chicago Mix'
Top of Mount Hood
The excitement builds
Bill and Michelle stay relaxed
Jane Murphy prepares for her start
Another team wave about to begin
7:00pm wave heads out
Team: Da Bulls
Event announcer, John recognizes 'Having Fun Between the Legs'
Final instructions before send-off
The last wave of the day set to go
3 - 2 - 1 ...
Tracy thunders down the mountain
Bill awaits his first leg
Tracy hands off to Bill
Michelle passes the reflective wrist band to Jenn
Dave catches a few winks
JB and Jenn await at the team exchange zone
Jenn watches as Michelle kicks to the hand-off
Michelle hands off to Jenn
Jenn takes the hand off from Michelle
Jenn finishes her 2nd leg
Irene drives all night and day
Tracy hands off to Bill
Bill sets off on his third and final leg
Tracy cheers Bill into the next exchange zone
Jacob picks off other team runners
Aimee flashes her perfect stride
A fabulous finishing kick for Allan
Michelle crests the top of a tough hill
Michelle blasts downhill
Sarah, Amanda and Dave catch some afternoon sun
The chicks of Run Chicago
Adrian and Amanda get in some rest & relaxation
Allan, Adrian, Jenn, Sarah, and Dave at the last van exchange zone
Jenn gets psyched
Michelle exchanges to Jenn
Jenn kicks in her last leg
Jenn hands off to Amanda
The team of Da Bulls arrives at the beach
Da Bulls
Da Bulls
Amanda gets a congratulatory hug
Tracy is all smiles
Jacob and Irene
Allan & Jenn
Adrian and Bill check the team score card
Sarah revels in the electric atmosphere
Yes, another beverage
The party pen
The party's just getting started
Where's the Beer Tent?
Seaside, Oregon
Another round?
The sun sets
Teammates plan for next year
Seaside... finish line for the Hood to Coast Relay

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Posted:January 18th, 2007 9:00 am
Last View:June 5th, 2020 3:09 am
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