The excitement was in the air, you could feel it among the groups of people clumped together waiting for their runner to come in or warming up and stripping off their sweats to be ready for the baton to be passed to them. Some huddled in blankets as it was still early in the morning and they had just finished their first leg of the 197 mile run, affectionately known as ‘The Mother of All Relays’.
This group of runners doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s an Oregon thing. You can train for months and work your heart out running, but it’s gotta be fun. Workmates and groups of 12 people from any association submit an entry form and estimate their running time to complete the 197 miles from the timberline of Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean at Seaside. The start times are staggered every 15 minutes over 12 hours at Timberline, with the elite Nike runners and other professionals beginning at 7PM Friday night, !2 hours after the first groups began.
Emily with our friend Ginny at the start of Leg 4
Some legs are 3.5 miles and some are 7.2 miles: the individual teams place their order. If the first 6 runners are in one van, the other 6 are in a second van and they leapfrog through the day and night only going to the stops where they have runners coming in, thereby giving them a leisurely 4 or 5 hour respite to stretch out in--or sleep-- before they run again.Before her run, Em and me
Our daughter’s team, Team Biohazard from the Oregon State Police Crime Labs, started Friday morning. I went out to wave them off at Emily’s first leg, ~7.2 from Rhododendron to Brightwood. All along the highway there were runners on the shoulder, some wearing antennae, some in grass skirts, some with angel wings. The vans likewise were decorated with team spirit and honked and cheered and waved as they passed each other on the highway. 5 0f the 12 Team Biohazard
At the exchange points, orange tape cordoned off the official change point and team members crowded around to see the handoff or where their runner might be coming down the road. Onlookers such as myself were in the way but excused for their cameras.
Last night we took our exchange students out to Scapoose (an hour West of Portland) to see the beginning and end of Leg 16 at 8:30 – 9 PM. It was amazing to start seeing a stream of runners along the highway after the St John’s Bridge, each one trucking along individually doing their best to keep the group thing going. Some were huffing and puffing and looked worn out, others seemed to still be bouncing on their toes. They were all wearing reflectors and blinking lights at this point, and some of the vans were decorated with Christmas lights.
From start to finish to hugs
The race was going to continue on through the night, in the wee hours on the back roads of Jewell and Mist to an afternoon finish at Seaside on Saturday. I wish I could have been at the nighttime rendezvous points, too, but the flesh is weak…
Our Chinese exchange student John met up with the China Team who had come from Nike in China for the race. They and he were so happy to meet countrymen! Can you imagine running for 25-30 hours after being cramped in a plane seat for 15 hours? Amazing.
My friend’s daughter has a doctor in Chicago who came out to run in the race. Hopefully the daughter won’t have her baby while the doctor is out here playing around!
So, even though there’s some incomprehension about people indulging in group self-torture, they come from Chicago to China to do it.