Sunday, August 29, 2010

The longest relay race in the world......

On Friday I had the adventure of a lifetime, where I joined a team of ladies to be a part of the LONGEST RELAY RACE IN THE WORLD!!!

Most of the members of our team "Two Sole Survivors and their Arch Supports"
(unfortunately we were so busy and on the go, I only took 1 photo during our adventure, which was of the finish line.)  I am in the back row, 3rd from the right.

The relay race is held every year and there are two versions....the running race is called Hood to Coast.  The team I was with was a race walking team and that relay is called Portland to Coast.

How our adventure transpired --

The team consists of 12 members.  Each member is responsible for completing 2 legs of the race.  6 members are in Van #1, and 6 members are in Van #2 (I was in Van #2).

For our team, Van #1's start time was 4am, and the starting line was at OMSI in downtown Portland on the waterfront.  The six ladies on that team each had 1 leg that they completed, in which they walked from Portland to St. Helens.

Our Van #2, then met them at 10:30am, where the last member of the team was finishing her leg, and our first member met her at the exchange point.  Their team member slapped a wrist band onto our walker and she was off to walk, while Van #1's members drove to our next exchange point which was near Mist/Clatskanie, Oregon, where they laid down a tarp and slept in a field until our arrival.

My first leg was #23, which was an easy 4.2 mile leg, on a paved road.  Then the fun begins..."road kill".  Part of the fun of the relay is to keep a tally of your roadkill while walking, and post the score on the windows of your vehicle.  "Road kill" is defined as one walker, passing another walker along the route.  I did a 14.5 minute mile on that leg and had 3 road kill!!  Woo Hoo!!!

The highlights from that leg ---  aside from the decorated vans, and the walkers who were in costume.....  The Indian (???) woman in a trailer along the route playing some kind of mystical chimed music while dancing in a native gown with a tambourine, and the guy yelling from the bushes (note you can be disqualified from the race for peeing in the bushes) "Can you see me????" as I walked past.  (Note my response...No, but I can hear you!!!)

Our van finished our legs for the day at 8:30pm, at which point Van #1's walkers had to begin racing again (wearing head lamps, reflective vests, and blinking safety lights on front and back).  Luckily for our team, one of our members has a gorgeous cabin on a private lake in Clatskanie so we were able to drive there, eat dinner, shower and at 9:30 lie down to rest until 12:40am, when we had to drive to Astoria, OR where we would meet up with Van #1 who finished their race at 2:30am!!!

Van #2's members were done with the relay, and left to one of the member's beach house in Seaside (where the race would end) to get some much needed rest, while our first member got on the road.  

At around 4am, we had an interesting sight.  We were getting ready for our 3rd member to race around 4am when we see a truck park on the side of the road, and two men dressed in camouflage get out of the vehicle and from the bed of the pick ups pull out a couple of mountain bikes.  First thought was...ummmm.....really???? 4am, in camouflage, on bikes, this can't be good.  They then strapped crossbows to the front of their bikes.  Curiosity got the best of us -- (surely this wasn't a new game for road kill during the relay right???) to find out NO --- it is the first day of Elk Season!!  Not sure how they planned to drag the elk back to their vehicle with their little bikes...but hey...keeping it weird...that's how Portlanders like it.

My last leg was leg #35 which I was quite nervous about.  First because I had been on vacation the last few weeks, and hadn't done any training for the event.  Second, because this leg was marked as DIFFICULT, 7.72 miles, on a non access road (meaning I wouldn't have ANY van support for water, etc.)  The leg ended up being super hills, just off and on gravel...and I ended up meeting a FABULOUS woman that kept a great steady walking pace and we walked the last 6 miles together chatting up a storm and completed our leg averaging a 12.5 minute mile!!!!  Favorites from that race... seeing an owl swoop down from a tree into the field and pick up a rodent and carry it back to the tree.  Watching a costumed disco diva with a hand held music device dance her way toward the exchange singing "Freedom!!!  Freedom!!!" and seeing the first woman runner from Hood to Coast run by (which means that running team had made up the 80 mile difference and were now ahead of the walkers!!!  Runners start their race at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood!!) and hearing out my walking companions upcoming trip to Paris, Venice and Munich!!!

My only photo from the trip, while waiting for our team to be called is of the finish line!!!!  All 12 members walk together across the finish line as the last member of the team completes their leg, right onto the beach in Seaside!!!  They announced that 90,000 people would walk across the beach that day!!

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