My H2C experience lasted almost 39 hours total and was more mind blowing than I could have ever imagined. The sheer amount of people involved including runners, volunteers and spectators is hard to describe. H2C is like a moving town. There are thousands of people and vans all moving in the direction of Seaside, OR. I saw every part of humanity imaginable along with every emotion: the good, the great, the bad, and of course the ugly.
I’m lucky that I knew everyone in my van prior to the relay. And I liked them all. A lot.
Since I was the 12th leg (aka the last runner), Van 2 was able to go from my run to dinner. We stopped off at a local brewery and enjoyed a bit to eat along with a pint. We probably hung out there a bit too long as it cut into our sleep time. Not that anyone besides Bill slept. Our rest location was in Scappose near the fair ground. It’s near impossible to get any sleep with thousands of runners coming and going. Car alarms went off while people were shouting and slamming the door to only port-potty. I laid on my sleeping bag and tried to rest. The stars were amazing! Around midnight Todd came and got us all up. At this point, I had been awake for 17 hours. Not too bad.
At HTC you are consumed with meeting your basic needs: water, food, sleep and a bathroom. At each stop, runners refill their water bottles, grab food, and run for the nearest port-potty. There weren’t a lot of bushes to run into. Plus it was dark, somewhat scary and unfamiliar territory.
My second run began before 6am on Saturday morning in Mist, OR. Mist is a great name for the foggy secluded town. I ran past the solid line of vans at a pretty quick pace before I realized that the vans were backed up all the way to the next exchange. HTC never did come out with a hard reason why traffic backed up for hours, but the back up at exchange 24 profoundly affected the rest of the race.
I waited in the cold with the other runners for almost 45 minutes for Van 1 to arrive so I could pass of the slap bracelet. Once Gina headed out on her run, I decided to go out in search of my van (Van 2). I walked/ran about 2.5 miles before I finally saw them. Bill had a pancake for me which I washed down with a YooHoo. Sitting in the warm van was awesome. At this point, I had been awake for over 24 hours. Ugh.
Our plan was to get to the next exchange where we could sleep for awhile. Unfortunately the earlier backup caused us to journey much slower than we anticipated. I fell asleep a few times for a few minutes at a time. Honestly each time I woke up, I thought I was having some dream. Not only was I pretty exhausted and dehydrated but I kept waking up in the van and seeing the same van in front of us.
Amy, Jess and I hung out in the van resting and chatting during our break. There was no way we could sleep. The temperature was rising steadily and the dust was thick in the air. We were all exhausted and patience was in short supply. We snarked at the volunteers who shouted the runner’s bib numbers as they came to the exchange. Todd had the best mimic of all of us with aa high pitched creepy voice: “6-2-3-4!” “2-1-6-9!” We all joked that we were going to prank each other and leave voicemails of us shouting out random numbers.
Eventually we got back out on the road again. Everyone except me ran in hotter temperatures. Amy ran a solid 7 miler in 70+ degree weather. As I was getting ready to run my leg, the fog rolled in bringing much colder weather. We were right on the coast less than 6 miles away from the beach. At this point, I had been awake for 35 hours. Bleh!
My plan was to run down the hill as fast as I could and as the elevation evened out, I would slow my pace. That’s what I ran. My upper quads twinged in pain and my breathe sounded like an asthmatic as I ran down the hill. But I ran as fast as I could. There were so many spectators along the course giving encouragement and high 5’s! It was so awesome.
Eventually I found my team thanks to Bill’s height. After we ran across the finish line, we posed to a million photos.