SCAPPOOSE, Ore. – Yeah, the honeymoon's over.
The discrepancy between what's going on at the runner exchanges and the attitude of those involved is pretty striking though.
The race took a turn for the much worse when we showed up at the Oaks Park exchange at 6 p.m. after stopping in Portland for a few hours while our other van took over. Oaks Park is the major Portland exchange this year – it's traditionally been under Hawthorne Bridge – and it's hard to imagine a worse location.
Take thousands of vans, cram them into an area that ALREADY HAS A FREAKING AMUSEMENT PARK, and you've got an inevitable mess of stress and traffic and Ferris Wheels.
Traffic was so bad, in fact, that we barely got there in time to make our exchange. Then, we spent 30-45 minutes inching our way out of the parking lot and were 15 minutes late picking up a somewhat bewildered Holly Morrison, our first-leg runner who started out from Oaks Park.
"I was really thirsty, and I didn't know where to start looking for you guys," Morrison said. "It was such a cluster."
Things have only been marginally better since. Several new groups joined the circus in Portland, including high school teams and walking teams. So, the exchanges are snarled, it's dark and the lines for the Porta-Potties are long.
Still, everybody's handling it remarkably well. We're at a weigh station near Scappoose right now – a little Robin Thicke, a little Beyonce and some Gatorade and everybody’s still pretty perky, all things considered. (Side note – in fact, as I was writing this, a few of the girls in our van hopped out and had a dance party with one of the volunteers in the parking lot at the exchange.)
Still, there's no getting over the fact everybody's been running all day.
"I'm tired. My body's tired. I have a big blister on my right foot," said Amy Murry, who ran the second leg. "Cumulative fatigue is setting in. I had a bad attitude in my head that whole run."