For the past 5 years there has been a relay that starts at Diamond Lake and ends in Bend, Oregon. It travels over the Cascade mountains and elevation and heat are both certainly concerns! There are 12 people on a team split into 2 vans and each person runs 3 legs of the course. The total course is 216.6 miles. This averages out to 18 per person but it certainly is not split up evenly and depending on the difficulty and distance one person could run 15 miles and another could run 23.
Corban ran this relay for the first time back in 2010 and when he came back he raved about the amazing time he had. I'll admit I was a little jealous of the awesome bonds he made, the memories, and new running friends in Portland. He made it sound like one of the most challenging things but certainly one of the best experiences he's had, even still to this day. Last year I thought about it but I wasn't sure I was ready. This year I know I am ready.
I put my name down on the Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR) board looking for a team on Monday. It was very last minute but I know people drop out. The registration fees for a team are very expensive (over $1,000) and on top of that there is the cost of renting two vans, paying for two volunteers (charity), and any accommodations. Someone from a team called "Last Place Champions" contacted me and asked me if I wanted to join their team. They've placed in the top third the past few years so while they aren't stressing that they are competitive, they are certainly fast. I was very honest about my comfortable pace and also made it clear that it needed to be okay if I ended up running slower 11 minute miles. I think he (Teal, the team leader) was swayed because I train a lot in Forest Park and the hills/elevation change is at least something more than someone who runs flat routes. I also am running between 25-30 miles a week now (last week I hit 30). All he asked was that I chip in a little for gas, so I'm pretty excited!!
I had some hesitation because of my knee after last night but it's a lot better now. I did bump it today stupidly at work which hurt a lot, but with R.I.C.E. I'm confident that I'll be feeling top notch by Friday. I was also very thankful because my boss had no problem at all with me asking last minute to take the time off. I have to take vacation time before I've earned it, which I don't like to do, but this just feels like a really awesome opportunity/experience and I honestly could really use getting out of town for a bit.
The entire course is at a really high elevation. I'm not used to that and I know that will be difficult, but most people in Portland aren't used to running at 4,000+ feet. There are some legs that have a pretty steep elevation change over a few short miles and since it's a relay someone is always running. There are also some longer (7-9 mile legs) that are relatively flat or slightly downhill.
I will be bringing my camera and certainly post an update or two when I get back! I'm going to make some granola bars and some other easy to eat foods to bring for the van I'm in. I think I'm in Van #2, which wasn't my preference, but that's okay. We're picking the legs out of a hat at random so I am going to print out the possible legs I could get tomorrow to have an idea of what I want, what I'd like, what I can do and what I just won't attempt. We can trade routes :)
I am driving down to Bend. I could carpool, but I will probably drive back with Corban as he is on another team that seems a little unorganized and it would be easy to find him at the finish. I guess I'm also choosing to drive because I'd also like to have some control over when I am able to leave to head back. The drive to Bend is pretty gorgeous. I do have a place to stay there overnight if I want aftert the relay on Saturday. We're meeting in Bend at 5pm on Thursday, picking up the vans and then driving the 3 hours (?) to Diamond Lake to camp. Teal is going to fix us a big pasta dinner and we'll set up camp and try to get some sleep. The first person starts at 8:30am.
Since I'm in Van #2 I'll have quite a bit extra time to do nothing... which kind of sucks as it means my first leg will be in 85-90 degree heat (dry) but oh well! I'm buying extra sunscreen and bug spray tomorrow. I'm packing 3 changes of clothes (plus others to stay warm at night and comfy clothes) along with the rest of the items on the list. I'm told that most people bring too much stuff so I don't want to be one of those people.
I've never driven over the Cascade Range and only seen it at a distance so it should be pretty spectacular to take it all in while running and cheering other people on! This team ran the relay in 30 hours last year, which was an 8:33 average pace, which I find to be crazy fast. I'm okay with being the slower one on the team though and whatever I lack in speed I'll make up for in cheerfulness and my attitude. I've been more and more into team camaraderie and being in a group since I've been training with the GFLF group so I think this will be a great weekend.
As mentioned before my first leg will be mid-day Friday. The second leg will probably be the middle of the night Saturday (2am?), and my last leg will be sometime early afternoon on Saturday. The CLR website is down right now (exceeded bandwidth, yikes!) so I can't post any links but I promise to document it well! I don't know anything about my team members yet and I have a feeling that only about 1/2 of the team really knows one another and the rest are odds and ends or friends of friends, but either way when you spend 40 hours together riding in vans, camping, running, sweating, and stinking, you're bound to come home with some good stories and likely some friends!
I won't be running or doing anything at all until Friday! No cross-training, nothing. I am taking the time off to rest up and tomorrow I'll be making my list, buying some Ignite gel (the fig ones, I now have used them twice and I love them!) then packing and making some simple food for the trip! Tonight and tomorrow I plan to get a lot of sleep. I don't have to leave until at least 1pm on Thursday.
Wish me luck! If you've ever run in a relay and have any tips or essentials that you think I should bring let me know. I'm already covered with most essentials (headlamp, clothes, gear) but any advice or tips are welcomed!