Every runner has a bucket list, whether it’s to cover a certain distance, reach a specific time goal or sample a new kind of event to keep yourself feeling challenged. And while the first two are usually moving targets (read: works-in-progress), the third is actually something you can feel the satisfaction of checking off the list.
That’s precisely why, when I was asked to join two 24-hour relays — one in Oregon and one in California — this summer/fall, I jumped at the chance for both.
Now, my idea of a fun weekend isn’t exactly jumping into a van with strangers, then depriving ourselves of sleep and running without showering three times over so we can cover 200 miles together… But you know what? I’ve heard that it’s a bonding experience, a chance to make new friends and create some pretty cool memories, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.
And I guess now I’ll just have twice the tales to tell afterward!
What is Hood to Coast?
The “Mother of all Relays,” Hood to Coast is one of the longest and largest relays in the world with 12,600 runners (1,050 teams of 12) tackling a 200-mile course that runs from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon coast.
Hood to Coast began in 1982 with eight teams and has filled the team cap on the opening day of registration for the last 16 years straight.
There’s even a whole documentary dedicated to the event, the Hood to Coast movie, which covers four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the race. I watched it a few years back, and was instantly hooked; check out the trailer here.
What is Ragnar?
As the Ragnar Relay Series’ official “run now, wine later” race, Ragnar Relay Napa Valley is set in — you guessed it — Northern California’s wine region during harvest season. Teams start from San Francisco and race across the Golden Gate Bridge, then experience the rolling hills and farmland of Petaluma before heading toward the Valley of the Moon.
Just as with Hood to Coast, teams of 12 are split evenly into two vans. Only one runner hits the road at a time, and each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between three and eight miles and varying in difficulty. As they say, “Some call it a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant.”
Yep. It’ll be run, drive, eat, sleep (?), repeat for 200+ miles as we trek through my old stomping grounds. Check out the promo video for the event here.
Two 24-hour relays in two months…are you crazy?!
The short answer: Quite possibly. But you already knew that, right?
The long(er) answer: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about taking the plunge on not one, but two. I mean, I like my sleep, and if given the choice I’d prefer not to stink up a van with five others as we hang out in our filth for a whole day.
But…I’m also eager to switch up my racing routine, which will keep me motivated during this marathon training cycle. And if I’m looking on the bright side of not sleeping for 24+ hours (if there is one), these races will not only allow me to get more experience running on tired legs, but I can also cross two big items off my bucket list.
Although I’ll likely need a nice, long nap at the end.
Hood to Coast is August 22-23, and Ragnar Napa Valley is September 19-20. Stay tuned for race recaps with all the details as I cover almost 400 miles with my respective teams!