August 28, 2015 - Vassar Byrd | Once again, Rose Villa is sponsoring a Hood to Coast relay team. This race is, well, crazy! Each team is composed of 12 runners, split into two vans. Each van has a driver (although some teams have the runners drive!). And each team must contribute three volunteers for the race. It is a pretty big effort (and don't even THINK of renting a van in Oregon on that weekend!)
Van 1 starts at Timberline Lodge in the early morning of the last Friday in August. Each of the six runners in turn passes a metal bracelet onto the next runner until they have all run one leg (each leg is of different length, elevation, shade, road surface, etc) and at the seventh handoff, the bracelet passes to Van 2, which also has 6 runners. This trade off happens in Sandy, OR. Van 1 then leap frogs to leg 13 (in Portland, near OMSI) while Van 2 works its way through all of its legs to arrive at the handoff where Van 1 has the bracelet again. This happens three times until the final handoff to Van 2 (somewhere in the middle of the night, in the Cascade mountain range). Runner #12 brings that bracelet all the way into the finish line at Seaside, OR. The ENTIRE team meets the final runner about half a mile from the end and we run the last bit together, which will be sometime in the afternoon of the next day, Saturday, August 29.
So, yes, this is a race, but it is not about really about racing. It is grueling, but it is not just about endurance. We want to do the best we can, but it is definitely not about finishing first. (Our team goal remains the same as the first year we did it, two years ago: to finish without throwing up. I know, NOW you are regretting not being on this team....)
People ask me why in the world I would DO such a thing?!?! What I think it really is about is defining who you are. Smashing through all that nonsense talk you stream at yourself about how you can't do this or that, oh this is crazy, it will never happen, (and my personal mantra, "I'm not a runner"), just this endless tide that you may not realize is there and weighs you down in so many ways. To ACTUALLY do something like this you have to start saying yes. Yes, I am going force myself to run and train for this, so my lungs and my legs are ready. Yes, I will run longer and better because I am not going to let my team down. Yes, it hurts, but I am going to finish this run, put one foot down in front the other, it doesn't matter how slow I go, it's about completing the run. Yes, I DID IT. Yes, I can do it AGAIN.
And I think it is THAT - flipping all those no's into yes’s - that make people want to do something like this. It teaches you that anything is possible, that you can rely on yourself and on your teammates. That showing up really is the hardest part, but that YOU are in control of that.