Experience & Guile

HTC 2015_tent city

Where are we sleeping tonight?

The Mother of All Relays

What in the world is the Hood to Coast (HTC) Relay? If one of my runner friends or myself is asked that question, or someone gives us a blank look when we say that we’re running the relay, that person may receive a blank look in return. Kind of a “how come you never heard of it look”. It is after all the world’s biggest running relay and billed as “the mother of all relays”. I should also tell you that there is a walker’s relay from Portland to the Coast.

For the uninitiated, the HTC Relay has over 1000 running teams. Each team has 12 runners that run 3 legs each for a total of 36 legs over a distance of 198 miles. The team uses 2 vans with 6 runners in each van. The start is at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and the finish is at Seaside on the Oregon Coast. We tend to think of it as one big party that lasts 2 days.

Imagine if you will, thousands of people, runners and walkers in all shapes and sizes, some very fit, some fast, and some not as fit and not as fast. That really doesn’t matter. HTC is actually unique, kind of crazy, and fun, although requiring some physical effort, but the HTC addicts keep coming back every year.

The Team: Experience & Guile

Here is a recap of my team’s experience in the 2015 HTC relay. Experience & Guile (E&G) has been together as a team for several years, and we look forward to doing the relay every year. It’s kind of like a family reunion where people we haven’t seen since the last year get together. Sometimes because of injuries or scheduling conflicts, E&G has different people on the team from the previous year. Our “home base” at the beach is provided by one of the runners, Randy. He didn’t run this year due to an injury. His house is unique in one respect; it has a John Malkovich bathroom. I won’t explain, you’ll have to ask someone on the team.

E&G at Pig n Pancake

E&G at Pig n Pancake

Day 1: On the Mountaintop

Typical scenario for my team – Van 1 meets at someone’s house, loads up the gear for the first rotation, and heads up to Mt. Hood. On the way now, we can see the mountain in the distance, always inspiring. Soon we’re on the road leading up to Timberline Lodge where the relay starts. We have to check in with our required gear, vests, and lights for running at night. With a little time to kill before our team starts, we take Arlane over to the lodge to give her the nickel tour of the great building built in the 30’s. We take a few pictures of the group and Arlane gets ready to do the first leg, the infamous HTC leg 1 with a nearly 2000-foot change in elevation over 5.4 miles. The trick is to take it easy and not push the pace; just let gravity do its work. The next 5 legs went fine. It was sunny and warm. We handed off to Van 2 in Sandy. They were raring to go. We headed over to Loraine’s house to get cleaned up, eat, and grab some sleep before it was our turn to run again.

Captain Coe at the helm

Scott at the helm in Van 1

At the Beach

So you get the idea of how it all works – after two more rotations and 35 legs, on the 36th leg the entire team joins up with the last runner to run across the finish line. This year because of a big storm, we weren’t able to finish on the beach. No matter, now it was time to party with the whole team together at the beach house with some pizza, beer, and wine.



A Few Take-aways

For the uninitiated, running or walking the HTC Relay might cause you to wonder about the whole thing. Even if you are a runner or walker in your everyday life, why would you want to stay up for 30 hours or more with very little sleep, eat minimal or crappy food, be all sweaty and jammed together in one vehicle (actually I like that part), and you have no chance to really stretch after each leg. Hard to explain, but maybe you should get on a team and check it out next year.

Photo Gallery

What else can I say, we had a great time!

Leg 1 start at Timberline

Leg 1 start at Timberline

Dave and Sandra exchange

Dave and Sandra at the exchange

I'm sure there's a story behind this picture!

I’m sure there’s a story behind this picture!

Spider Man Running Shorts?

Spider Man running shorts?

Don't mess with my woman!

Don’t mess with my woman!

Arlane's ready to go

Arlane’s ready to go

Leg 2: Craig did good!

Leg 2: Craig did good!

Mystery photo: Scott who is this guy?

Mystery photo: Scott who is this guy?

Wow again!

Wow again!

Quiet, runner trying to sleep!

Quiet, runner trying to sleep!

2 Responses to “Experience & Guile”

  1. Hood to Coast – 2017 | Looking for a Rufous Says:

    […] to Coast Relay (where have you been?), here’s a link to the official web site that may help and a previous blog I did in 2015, which also has an explanation of the […]


  2. Marie Blazek Says:

    Very cool Bern. Loved the musical stuff.
    You’re amazing Bro. Keep on keeping on.


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