Aug 28, 2014

Hood to Coast: 200 Mile Relay Race With My Pigasus

After the sad loss of my sister-in-law, Shelley to cancer just a few days ago, I can still look to the good things we do in our lives and applaud my son and his Salem neighborhood team of 12 who are running among the 1,250 teams and over 20,000 runners, along the two day and one night challenge for the almost 200 miles long "Hood to Coast" Relay Race to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

Watch my son's team's Hood to Coast vimeo Video by Brian Watson of Sea Legs Media. He did an awesome job of capturing the spirit of 

Updated Saturday, August 23:

My son, Blake, is a member of his neighborhood team the "Highland Hood" and has been training after work and on weekends with group members for many months as well as doing his own individual workouts. 

Their team relay running shirt in black and green, shows the image of a "pigasus" and the motto in Latin: Ad astra per alas porci."

The symbol of a Pigasus was used by John Steinbeck as a personal stamp
or signature during book signings with the Latin motto:

"Ad astra per alas porci"
"To the stars on the wings of a pig."

The pigasus was supposed to symbolize Steinbeck as he saw himself  "earthbound but aspiring...
not enough wingspread..... but plenty of intention.

So, of course I quickly created a flying pig for him as a good luck gift.

Or at least a big "What in the world?"

Especially, because my wings look a lot more like a lotus flower so I'm thinking he is Buddhist or maybe any case, he takes away worries and brings in good energy and that was my goal!

As one team among 1,250, each with 12 members and 2 support vans, they will be awake for 36 hours, running 3 rotating shifts each of the 36 legs of the race, running day and and all night through the hills and valleys, cities and towns, farms and fields all along the the almost 200 mile journey from Timberline Lodge near Mt. Hood to the coastal town of Seaside, Oregon.

My Pigasus in now being worn by one of my son's Team of Twelves team members! Good for her and her sense of style and good for my son, he actually brought my pig to the races!!

And my son ran his first leg of the race (he was leg 6 and ran  53.48 on a 6.82. I have no idea what that means,  but I hope by telling us it means he did well and is feeling strong!

Only another long run in the night and again on Saturday. I bet all of the runners are dreaming of the finish line, photo below shows Seaside, Oregon finish arena site!!


The Hood to Coast Relay/ Run and Walk is a nationally recognized gargantuan relay race that has now grown to involve over 20,000 runners from all over the world.

Runners train in their individual countries, cities, towns and neighborhoods for the year before and then join with layered starting times and each team member running 5 miles at a time switching off with another member and on and on until all 199 miles have been completed.

They begin running on Friday, August 22 and run day and night until Saturday, August 23 until the closing time of 9:00 pm. Teams must finish within their own 32 hour relay time limit in order to qualify as finishers.

It will be a grueling and emotionally, as well as physically, challenging experience, but hopefully also inspiring and as each runner tests him/herself to the limits in order to not drop out and disqualify the team.

A team member can take your place if you completely have to drop out, but then they have to double the endurance running and only one of them, that next one in line, is allowed to do that!

"The Hood to Coast" (HTC) Race first began in 1982, when race founder, Bob Foote, needed a new challenge beyond his own records as a 35 time marathoner and 13 time ultra-marathon runner.T

That's when Bob came up with the idea of running from nearby Mount Hood, the backdrop for the City of Portland in which he lived, to another favorite weekend get-away - the beach!

The first Hood To Coast Relay took place, August 7, 1982 on a full moon, with 8 teams of 10 runners. Bob made simple spray paint marks on the road to indicate exact exchange points, and being an architect, this meant exactly every 5 miles.

This translated to one exchange point being in the middle of a very busy intersection in Portland! Changes were made for the second year and by then it had grown from 8 teams and 10 runners per team to 64 teams with 10 runners and it went wild from then on!

Supply and support vans and volunteer vehicles and onlookers line the route in parking lots, side roads, sidewalks and fields as they cheer the runners, many of them in assorted and often strange apparel, keeping their, and others spirits up along the often grueling not to mention exhausting race.

By the 90's celebrity runners like Alberto Salazar and Mary Decker-Slaney, set a whole 'nother level of competition and race times with their teams and it has just grown and grown since then.

Now, it has evolved into a race that increased to the current 199 miles and ends in Seaside not Pacific City, with teams growing in size to 12 members, in order to accommodate the extra mileage.

In 2007, seasoned filmmaker Christoph Baaden ran HOOD TO COAST for the first time with his producing partner (and wife) Anna – after that he was hooked.

The idea was not simply to document the race, but rather to experience an event of epic proportion through the eyes of the people crazy enough to do it.
After receiving official approval by the race organizers, filming began months before the race, eventually narrowing the cast of characters to four teams: The Novices, The Experts, The Survivor, and The Story of a Healing Family. 

Over 100 crew members worked in alternating shifts, covering 197 miles of Oregon wilderness with limited cell phone reception.

Each of the four main teams had their vans embedded with microphones and extra lighting, along with a field director, camera and sound operator who all traveled hidden in the trunk! 

In addition it took 16 more film crews, time-lapse cameras, cranes, and a helicopter – all strategically moving to capture the magic of the event.

So, by the 30th Anniversary of The Mother of All Relays! The ‘Hood To Coast’ movie was released for nationwide release to rave reviews and ever increasing national popularity as teams compete for entrance into the race.

Teams now come from all over the world to compete in this incredibly popular (and world's largest) relay race.

It is a gigantic endeavor for race managers, runners, and volunteers incorporating:
  • 1,250 teams with 12 runners and 2 support vans each, to total well over 20,000 runners
  •  4,100 volunteers
  •  576 Honey Bucket porta-potties
  •  20,400 runners and walkers from  35 countries and all 50 states represented.
Now, the race has raised over $5,400,000 to-date for the American Cancer Society.  And now, of course, the funding has also grown as has the number of everything else..especially volunteers and organizers. 

The 320 km (200 mi) Hood To Coast course consists of 36 legs; each team member runs three in rotation. The course is run primarily on paved asphalt roads and paved asphalt or concrete multi-use off-street paths, with small portions of the course on sidewalks and gravel roads.

The legs vary in length from 5.4 km (3.4 mi) to 12.5 km (7.8 mi); some legs are virtually flat, and others descend and/or ascend steep hills. Consequently, a runner may total between 21.9 km (13.6 mi) and 31.7 km (19.7 mi).

Teams in the full Hood To Coast relay must complete the course within a 32-hour time limit (averaging under 5:50 per kilometer or 9:30 per mile).

Teams start on Friday, August 22nd, between 6:00 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. in staggered waves of approximately 20 teams every 15 minutes. Teams are seeded based on previous race pace times.

Thus the flow of teams through the 36 exchange points and finish line remains relatively smooth, with all teams finishing the race by the closing time of 9 p.m. on Saturday.

The course starts at Timberline Lodge at the 6,000-foot (1,800 m) level of  Mount Hood, and proceeds down Timberline Road to Government Camp and drops 2,000 feet (610 m) in elevation over about 6 miles (9.7 km); the next two legs from Government Camp to Rhododendron, Oregon, have a combined elevation drop of 2,300 feet (700 m) over about 10 miles (16 km).

It is the ups and downs that make this such a grueling race, as well as the sheer length of it and the severe sleep deprivation, with runners often battling pain and testing their own physical and emotional limits along the way.

Runners proceed west along US Route 26, to the towns of  Sandy and Gresham, where the route proceeds along the Springwater Corridor trail to the Sellwood neighborhood in southeast Portland and then proceeds north along the paved Springwater/Willamette River trail and crosses the Hawthorne Bridge west into downtown Portland.

After crossing the Hawthorne Bridge, runners proceed north along Naito Parkway in downtown Portland along the west bank of the Willamette River and onto US Route 30 to St. Helens through hilly rural and sometimes unpaved backroads throurgh communities along the coastal route all the way to the beautifully scenic coastal town of Seaside, Oregon.

So Cheers for my son and his team's running the" Hood to Coast" and cheers to my brother, for choosing to come on down and let us give him a big hug of understanding and support this Saturday, race day #2 as he stays for a whole week, putting up with crazy sister who never sleeps.

And then more support in another three days, when my middle brother and his wife come down to join us for the rest  of the week of supportive family time.  We are having our own support team relay of sorts.

Judging from these runner's googled images, chances may be slim that my son will actually bring the pig, but it was the making of it that was my fun and good wishes  :-)

I noticed that in the blue pack, one runner even put in a pillow thinking he could actually sleep in a van with 11 other runners, and all of their support people and gear for 14 people!!!

So, my son may not be able to fit in a pig much less want to use it's hand puppet abilities to entertain others while going without sleep. Nope, that's the kind of thing that only I might do!

Updated: The apple doesn't fall from the tree! He brought my pig to the races! I don't know the team member wearing it on her hat, but I like her already!!!

Think good thoughts and give out a cheer and send it the 20,000 runners of the Hood to Coast Relay Race and to Salem, Oregon. where I'll feel it and may even hear it!!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!


Bee Quilter said...

What a wonderful event! You must be so proud of your son. I wish I could blog like you do forget about doing something like this. I really enjoyed reading about this and am goign to share the info with my own kids.

Ana María said...

Sure proud of your son. Incredible event! And you have a beautiful blog. Regards from Spain.

Cher said...

popping in to say hello and I am sure your son did fabulous! I had a co-worker do the walk version starting from Portland to the Coast. She said it was great fun.
Sorry to hear of your sil's passing. hugs to you and your family Cher

jenclair said...

I love the information about pigasus! The race sounds like a wonderful event!