Friday, August 24, 2012

Headed to the Hood

Today is a day that I’ve been looking forward to since last November. That’s when I found out that I was going to have the opportunity to participate in the self-proclaimed “Mother of all Relay Races”, the almost 200-mile Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon.

Up to this point in my running career, my races have consisted of 5Ks, half marathons, and two full marathons with a few other mid-range distances mixed in. I haven’t ventured into any of the obstacle type events like the Warrior Dash or Color Run and have focused strictly on races that consist of just me and the open road.

Well, that will all change today when I hop in Van 1 of Team “Random Acts of Running” and we drive up Mt. Hood to Timberline and its 6,500-foot elevation. That will start an adventure that will see our team of 12 people each do three legs of roughly six miles each before we finish about 27 hours later on the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, Oregon. Along the way, we’ll see lots of interesting sites and have lots of interesting adventures and I can’t wait!!!

All the planning and preparation has been done at this point. Now, it’s up to us to just go out and doing our running. With all of the elevation drops and gains, it won’t always be easy. But, we are going to give it our best shot and see what happens.

Our team of 12 consists of six guys and six girls, so we’ll be competing in the mixed open division, where they have predicted that we’ll finish 28th out of 361 teams in just over 27 hours. Really, time is irrelevant in an event like this. It’s all about the experience. There will be elite teams like the team traveling all the way from Japan with their national media and expected to win the race in 17 hours. And there will be teams that will take twice that long but have just as much fun. We’ll see plenty of costumes and decked out vans and I hope to get lots of pictures along the way.

Here’s a brief introduction of our team. Most of them I met for the first time last night when the Outback Steakhouse in Tualatin so graciously hosted us for a pre-race team meal. A big thank you to Jon Lakefish, the director of franchise marketing, and Dave Seeley, the managing partner of the Tualatin store, for giving us a one-of-a-kind dinner that none of us will soon forget. And, a big thanks to our server, Miranda, who handled all 15 of us (our three volunteers were included) with ease. It really was a perfect evening!

Van 1 will get the race started at 2:45 p.m. PST on Mt. Hood with Runner #1 Sarah Suever. Sarah is a 14-year-old high school student from Ohio who runs cross country and plays soccer. Her first leg is a beast as she’ll descend something like 2,000 feet in five miles. While to some that might seem fun to go that fast, it’s labeled as one of the very hardest legs on the course. She will then legs 13 and 25 before enjoying the final 11 legs in the van.

Runner #2 in Van 1 is my good friend, Ryan Halley. Ryan went to college at MVNU and later taught there as well. He currently teaches in the business department at George Fox in the Portland area and he was my invitation to this team. He’s also the captain of the team and has organized all the details necessary to make this adventure possible. I appreciate he and his wife, Jess, and their two kids for letting me stay at their house while I’ve been out here. Ryan gets to do leg 2, which drops 1,500 feet in just over five miles and then legs 14 and 26. He’ll probably also do a lot of the driving for Van 1 while trying not to drive off the road laughing at the antics that are sure to ensue. This will be Ryan’s second straight year doing Hood to Coast.

Runner #3 in Van 1 is Brett Milliken. I met Brett for the first time last night and he’s a young guy in his 20’s from the Portland area who looks to be a strong runner as well. He gets the award for the best mustache out of group of 12 and he’s wearing it well! I look forward to getting to know him better over the next two days and I’m sure that he’s going to do a great job with legs 3, 15, and 27.

Runner #4 in Van 1 is Amanda Smithberger. Amanda actually went to MVNU for a short time and was a member of our women’s soccer team. She is married to Ryan’s cousin and they live in the Portland area. Amanda has done Hood to Coast two previous times, so her expertise will be invaluable to us as she knows what to expect. She’ll be doing legs 4, 16, and 28.

Runner #5 in Van 1 is Peter Arbogast. Peter is a friend of mine that I’ve gotten to know that past two years through various running events in Central Ohio. He lives in Marysville and is definitely the most decorated runner on our team. A few of his highlights just this year are running the Boston Marathon and just last month completing the Burning River 100 – an ultramarathon half the distance of Hood to Coast that he did on his own. The man is a rock star and there is a reason that he is doing what is considered the toughest three legs on the Hood to Coast course as he runs legs 5, 17, and 29.

I’ll be masquerading as Runner #6 to finish out Van #1. My combined mileage for the three legs will be just shy of 18 miles and I’m hoping that I can pull this off despite not running in almost two weeks as I’ve been resting up a bad case of shin splints. I get to do legs 6, 18, and 30 and will hand off to first runner in Van 2 each time, which means that my exchange zones will be filled with both vans from each team running the same pace. That should add to the hoopla and hopefully carry me through.

Van 2 Runner #1 will be Brad Petersen. Brad, who is running his second Hood to Coast and is a Portland area resident, is the captain of the second van and has been tremendous in helping Ryan with all the details that go along with this event. I guarantee that Van 2 will have fun with Brad and his fun-loving personality. When we left him after the Outback dinner last night, he was still trying to convince the rest of his van to get mohawks with him. I’ll look forward to seeing today if anyone did. Brad’s also a great runner and it’s going to be an honor to be sandwiched in between the two fastest guys on our team. He’ll run legs 7, 19, and 31, which is the second-toughest assignment of the race.

Van 2 Runner #2 will be Becky Peach. Becky is from Virginia and is the mother-in-law of the original organizer of this team, Megan Peach, who ended up dropping out when she had a baby. Becky is looking forward to this race even though she has the single-toughest leg for her second one when she has to climb nearly 800 feet in five miles on a gravel road. She’ll do great as she knocks out legs 8, 20, and 32.

Van 2 Runner #3 is Spencer Dries. Spencer is one of the four Colorado runners who round out our team. He’ll team up with Brad to keep the four ladies in Van 2 entertained while posting good times knocking out legs 9, 21, and 33. He has some relay experience with the Wild West Relay under his belt and he’s also been training for longer endurance races.

Van 2 Runner #4 is Taylor Bailey. Like Spencer, she is an avid cyclist and triathlete. She will be running legs 10, 22, and 34 and I know she’s going to do a great job. She is also one of our two ICU nurses along on the trip and we hope to not need their services.

Van 2 Runner #5 is Claire Bailey. Another of the Colorado runners, she will be running legs 11, 23, and 35. She designed the cool team bandanas that we got last night at our team dinner.

Van 2 Runner #6 is Kade Chambless. She will be running legs 12, 24, and 36 and gets the honor of leading our team across the finish line. She is the second of our nurses in Van 2.

Here's our team picture from after the Outback dinner last night:

If you want someone’s entertaining take on the two van assignments and the legs of Hood to Coast from previous experience, check out these links. Van 1 description Van 2 description

Well, we are coming down to the wire with last-minute packing, some light eating, and feeling the butterflies in our stomachs as we’ll be heading out the door soon to head up Mt. Hood. However, we do have to make a stop at Krispy Kreme on the way ‘cause everyone knows how important it is for me to have donuts on race day. I’m not sure what access I’ll have to post along the way, but I’ll try my best at least on Twitter and Facebook. Good luck to my other friends running in it as well and I hope to see you at some point along the way.


Dan Holm said...


Thanks so much for bringing in the team to Outback!


MVNUSID said...

Couldn't imagine going anywhere else, Dan. :) Great way to start off what was a terrific event for our group. And the Tualatin staff was outstanding!!!