Race Report: Epic Oregon Relay

This past weekend I took part in the Epic Oregon Relay, and had a blast doing so!  It’s 178 miles divided amongst 12 people in 2 vans, leap frogging from just outside Portland all the way down to Eugene in 24 hours.  My team’s name was “Back off man, I’m a scientist!”, because most of the people on the team are, in fact, scientists.

About half the team met at Pies & Pints Thursday evening for some food and to decorate the van windows (you’re required to at least write “Caution: Runner on Road” on the back windows).  I contributed some evolutionary art:

We left about 7am Friday morning and made good time getting down there.  Van #2 didn’t need to leave until after 10, the lazy bastards.

There were 40 teams, with waves of runners setting out every 20 minutes or so.  There was an announcer at the starting line, interviewing someone from one of the teams in each wave and doing the usual peppy banter that those announcers all seem to be so good at.  It was a little odd this time, though, in that there wasn’t any crowd.  It was just the participants, and we were mostly all busy getting our own stuff ready and not paying much attention to him.  He still did a good job, though.

Our first runner set off, and the rest of us jumped in the van.  I was runner #2, so I had already gone through my usual pre-run warm-up routine.  We stopped about 1.5 miles down the road (halfway through that leg) to give our runner some water and ring the cowbell for her, and then proceeded to the exchange point.

The exchange point was great fun, as all the teams cheered and clapped and cow-belled for each runner that came through, no matter who’s team they were on.  I saw our runner approaching, so I got ready for the hand-off of the neon wrist strap and… wait for it… wait for it… go!

My first leg was 3.4 miles, which is now a very easy distance for me, so I decided I’d see just how fast I could go.  I ended up passing three other runners and set a new personal best of 30:22.  Holy crap!  That’s fast!  I was horribly over-heated and thirsty, but hot damn that was a good time.

We continued leap frogging with the van as each of our runners did their first leg.  It was a beautiful day, on lovely back roads, and we were all having a great time running and getting to know each other (and the other vans).   At the end of runner #6’s first leg was the first vehicle exchange, where we met up with van #2.  We exchanged pleasantries and bragged about how many other runners we’d passed so far, and then their first runner was off and we went in search of dinner.

The next vehicle exchange was to be in Silverton, and some poking around on Yelp sent us to Seven Brides Taproom.  We had some delicious food (too much, in my case, or maybe it was the beer…) and enjoyed lounging on the deck for a while, but all too soon it was time to go.

My second leg wasn’t until 8pm, at which point we were required to don reflective vests, headlamps, and red blinky lights, which of course made me look hella stylish.  Three hours wasn’t nearly enough time to digest the shrimp scampi I’d had for dinner, though (when will I learn!?!??).  The first half mile went fine, but then that dang side stitch started in and killed my speed.  One trick that sometimes helps with that is to clench my abs, which I did… a lot.  It didn’t help much.

After the next vehicle exchange, we headed to Corvalis High School to nap in the grass for a few hours.  I had bought a new ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Self-Inflating Air pad, and it worked perfectly! I swear it’s more comfortable than any pad or air mattress I’ve ever experienced, and best of all, it didn’t deflate!

We had to get up again around 3am or so.  Runner #1 set off into the night, and we jumped ahead to the next exchange.  I was really looking forward to my final leg, as it was mostly downhill, and I hadn’t eaten for almost 12 hours, so I figured my belly would be nice and quiet and I’d be able to set another record for myself.  Alas, it was not to be.  After about a half mile my abs cramped up and wouldn’t let go.  This was a new one.  I think my speeding through the first leg combined with clenching my abs in the second leg just totally exhausted them, and they refused to let me run at any kind of good speed.  I ended up averaging 12 minute miles, when it should have been 9 or less, and it hurt the whole darn way.  Oh well.  On the plus side, it’s exposed a definite weakness in my training regimen.  Time for more situps!

Our van was finished around 9am, so we proceeded to the Keystone Cafe in Eugene for one of the best dang breakfasts I’ve ever had.  After that, it was off to the motel for a quick shower, then on Alton Baker Park for the big finish and some beers!

After van #2 had a chance to shower, most of us went to Ninkasi Brewing Company for some more beers.  I drunkenly arranged for some of us to take a tour of the factory, where we were suitably impressed by the awesome slide that they’d installed.

We went back to the motel, where I had a quick soak in the hot tub, and then we went to dinner at Chapala’s.  I had a massive meal of a chicken chimichunga, a beef chimichunga, a pork enchilada, beans, rice and two pina coladas.  Woo!

By this point I’d had quite a few drinks and only a couple hours of sleep, so I was all too happy to go back to the motel and crash.  10 hours of awesome sleep later it was time to pack up and head home!  Here’s some cute dogs I saw on the way:


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