Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hood to Coast Relay Race

I had the privilege of assisting a group with the Hood to Coast Relay Race----billed as the world's largest relay race and held each August. It begins near the historic Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in western Oregon and ends in the lovely village of Seaside, Oregon, on the Pacific coast. A single runner from each team starts at timed intervals on Saturday, and runs a measured distance, where he (or "she"---the race rules require a certain number of females on each team) passes on the baton to the next runner. This continues all through the night along the designated route leading west (team members take their turn sleeping during the night in the group's "sag wagon", or on the ground at the baton-passing stations.) If you watched the Olympics in Beijing last month, you know that the act of "passing the baton" in a relay race is not a "done deal"! Imagine trying to complete this task successfully in the middle of the night, when you are half asleep, exhausted from miles of running, and surrounded by darkness! In spite of the difficulties, most of the teams make it through to the finish line on the beach at Seaside on Sunday. And that is when the fun can begin for not only the race relay teams, but also the spectators and fans! There are tents sets up along the beach selling everything one could need after hours of exercise---food, beverages, Hood to Coast apparel, photos of your team, etc.; likewise, there are plenty of "freebies" from sports/health related companies/organizations that want you to sample their products or be aware of their services. Later on Saturday evening, there are live bands playing for any and all that still have the energy to stay awake for that long! Another fun part of the event is seeing all the costumes that some of the teams come up with, and how they decorate their official support vehicle (aka "sag wagon"). Naturally, there is a prize for these categories. Besides there being official race photographers stationed throughout the course of the race, a simulated "finish line" is set up on the beach during the award ceremonies where the team can all run through it together for a photo opportunity. The race photos are available for purchase after the race via the official website of the event on the Internet. If all this sounds interesting to you, but you are not a runner---alas, you are in luck!!! There is also a similar event for walkers, and even a scaled-down version for youngsters. Because the Hood to Coast Relay has grown into such a massive success, there are more teams that want to participate than the event can accommodate. Therefore, a lottery system has emerged, so that team entries are picked at random, until the cut-off number is reached. This system assures that the event will not become unmanageable. So if you like beautiful scenery, health-promoting activities, and have a spirit of adventure---this event is for you!
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