What a weekend! This was my first time running a one day relay, and though the relay is shorter in distance, it was no shorter in challenge, laughs, cowbells, cheers and sweat! The Whole Human Community team rocked the inaugural Oregon Classic one day relay put on by Hood to Coast!
Because it is only a one day relay the teams start very early in the morning. We lucked out and ended up with the latest possible start time of 5:45. Getting up early did not seem to faze the team at all, we were ready to go! Rachel started us off on our adventure running away into the dark.
The first leg is where we as a team, and it seems most of the other participants ran into our only confusing portion of the relay. We were unsure of the driving directions to get to the first exchange to meet Rachel. Some runners also had a difficult time following the HTC signs that marked the course as well. The search was made a little more confusing with our lack of knowledge of Hood River and the absence of morning light, but we made it with a few minutes to spare to pick up Rachel and send Pierre off on this way to his first leg (and first race ever!).
The sun began to rise and give us light through the heavy rain clouds and when it did we were all in awe of how beautiful the relay course was! Everywhere the trees were in full color change of bright yellows and deep reds, nestled in the dark evergreen of the pines and up against a blue-gray backdrop of the sky. It was incredible. There was not a time that we were disappointed in the views and were constantly wowing with each corner that we turned.
The course runs the ‘Fruit Loop’ which is a well known loop around Hood River’s wineries and farm stands. The first half of the loop is almost all uphill – reaching an elevation of 4,500 feet. Once the sixth runner (me!) crests the 4,500 foot mark and passes Cooper Spur ski area the route begins to head down back into the town of Hood River.
The weather did not turn up in support of this inaugural year of the relay! We ran through complete downpours, 30-40 mph wind gusts that literally pushed our bodies off of the road, and even snow at the height of the course elevation. But what we know about runners is that weather can’t hold us back. This stopped no one from cheering on their teammates and running their legs off!
Aside of raising all of the runner levels of badass – the rain also brought us even more beautiful views! Colorful rainbows sprouted into any break in the clouds.
The 12th and final leg of the course brings the final runner down and out of the mountains and into Hood River where they run over a couple of bridges, around some Saturday shoppers and back into the Marina.
This was my first time being the last runner in the relay and I absolutely loved being able to represent my team and run through the finish line. One of the best parts of running a relay is knowing that your team is waiting for you at the end of your leg, and knowing that my team was waiting for me to finish because it was time to CELEBRATE made my last leg even more exciting. Hearing the jubilant whoops and screams as I came through the finish and then being surrounded by my team heightened the experience even more so. You would have thought that I just set a world record with all of the excitement we were displaying.
But that is what a relay should be about. The best teammates that you can have for a relay are the kind that are going to cheer for you in the rain, that will all walk with you to the start of your leg and high five you when you are done. The ones that will scream your name as they drive by you in the van, that will stop during your run and take your jacket and gloves that you aren’t wearing anymore, and won’t complain when you are smelly from sweat. They will let you eat their shot blocks, share their water, and even lend you their GPS watch. Then when it is all done, they will help you celebrate the shit out of your accomplishments! All of these things, my team was very, very good at.
It was the icing on the cake, that while we were enjoying the finish line party, we found out that we took second place in our division (Mixed Open). There is no better way to continue a celebration than to raise it to the next level with some hardware! The finish line part was inside a tent, away from run. There were a ton of sponsors from Ketel One, to Session, music that we definitely danced to, hot food, and even football on for those who needed to keep up with their teams.
I am so incredibly proud to have been the captain of this team! With half of our team being first timer relay runners, and some of us being brand new runners all together, we really truly made the most and got the most from this one day relay. We will definitely be back!
If you can’t wait a year to run the Fruit Loop – Hood to Coast is going to have a spring relay in Hood River as well – the Spring Classic. Check it out here!