Hood to Coast is terrible.
It’s also fantastic.
Neither is a big surprise.
You don’t sign up for something - knowing that one morning is going to start with the peak of Mount Hood in the background and the next is going to end at the Seaside promenade - without expecting some big highs and big lows.
I don’t really get to complain about how tiring it was. I was, after all, only driving while the six ladies in my van ran 18 or so miles each.
Still, staying on high-alert for the better part of 30 hours while you’re trying to keep everybody alive in a huge van, fighting through runners and traffics and jammed fields full of other vans, is going to take something out of you.
My team – Slippah Stream -- wrapped up our final leg in extremely anticlimactic fashion at 9:32 a.m. Saturday.
The problem was, the final van exchange was backed up for miles. Our final-stage runner, Olympia’s Erica Kinsel, passed us a mile before the hand-off. She walked back to hop in the van so we wouldn’t have to mess around with parking at the exchange.
I went into the weekend thinking I didn’t want to inject myself too much into the girls’ run, but … I did want some kind of celebration. So, I blasted her in the face with silly-string while she was climbing into the van.
It was somewhat fitting after a very long night.
You don’t really realize what you’ve gotten yourself into until the sun goes down. Once it does, and you look at how far you have to go and how little sleep is in your future, there are a few hours where things get pretty quiet in the van.
We wrapped up our last leg of the second stage in St. Helens at about midnight, and decided to keep driving until we hit the starting point for stage three, in Birkenfeld.
By the time we settled in, it was about 1:30 a.m. – just enough time to grab about 2 ½ hours sleep before our alarm. A few of us slept in the van, a few others - for reasons I still can't grasp - slept in the rain in a field that was a little Thunderdome-esque.
Honestly, I don’t remember much about the first couple legs other than sporadic attempts to get the team amped up and extremely long lines for Porta-Potties.
In my mind, the morning turned around at the end of the 5.77-mile second leg, run by Olympia’s Amy Murry. Murry had an awful time with her second run – she got a blister that’s too awful to show a picture of, and she was breathing exhaust fumes as the sun went down in Portland – and I was a little worried about her final run.
But she finished that last leg really quickly – as the sun was coming up, fittingly – and came back in a great mood. Suddenly the sun was up, the end was in sight, and Macklemore came into heavy rotation.
There was one big obstacle left – Corvallis’ Amy Hiebert had a 6.11-mile fifth-leg run, which incorporated a disgusting climb of almost 600 feet of elevation, followed by a huge decent – but she killed it and we were on our way.
Next thing you know, I was shooting Kinsel in the face with silly string and we were headed for Ft. George brewery in Astoria for a beer and some breakfast.
One more bit of anti-climax – we drove to Seaside and realized we couldn’t park the van where we’d planned, and our team was still a couple hours away. So we found a spot on Broadway, opened the doors and slept for a couple hours before Van 2 showed up and the girls could join up with the rest of the team to cross the finish line.
Slippah Stream finished at 2:22 p.m., in 29 hours, 52 minutes, 38 seconds. They were 535th out of 1,002 teams overall and 137th of 327 in the mixed open category.
(Our team did have some success by association, by the way. Murry’s son, Noah, ran the high school division. His team, the Olympia Slackers, won in 13:31:01 – almost a full hour-and-a-half before the second-place finishers).
It was fun, it was exhausting, it was extraordinarily memorable.
You might say it was terribly fantastic.
So, if you were one of the other 25,000 people who participated – or if you live along the route – how was your weekend?