Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hood to Coast 2006 - Captain's Report (Joseph “Cap’n Joe” Yates)

It was Monday, August 21, 2006, only days before the start of the 2006 edition of the Hood-To-Coast Relay(HTC). This year would mark the 25th anniversary of the event and the 10th consecutive year the New York Flyers sent at least one team to participate. Starting on Mt. Hood and winding 197 miles through the city of Portland and the beautiful Oregon countryside to finish on the beach in Seaside, this relay event is usually run by teams of 12. We had had less than the full complement of runners until the day I received the e-mails confirming the final two additions, bringing our single team up to full strength.

The 2006 team would be:

Leg Runner
1 Joyance Meechai
2 Joseph Yates
3 Renee Mosier
4 Angel Daniels
5 Subhasish Bhattacharya
6 Adam Haas
7 Megan Stillerman
8 Julie McAdoo
9 Richard Campbell
10 Mark Ortner
11 Vivian Doorn
12 Eric Johnson

Each team member would run their relay leg, then run a second leg in the same sequence, and finally a third, completing the 36 individual leg of the total distance. The team would move along the course in two vans, each carrying six runners.The clock measuring the team’s time through the course would start when runner #1 set off from Mt. Hood and would run without pause until runner #12 crossed the finish line on the beach. This basic description of the event logistics, however, does nothing to capture what the HTC adventure is really like. The experience is different every year and for every participant. Here is a sampling of HTC 2006 memories from some members of the team:

A Reach The Beach Relay veteran doing his very first HTC, Sub ran legs 5, 17 and 29, considered the most challenging sequence of legs in HTC. Some of the things that
stood out about 2006 for him:

The scenery at Mt. Hood as Joyance started off
Leg 5
o felt great starting off in twilight
o finishing in the dark through back roads
o steady climb
o scared about getting lost
o glad to see a light in the distance for the exchange
o handing off to van 2 and heading to the hotel

Between Legs 5 and 17
o How good it felt to have a shower and a nap
o How bad it felt to wake up and have to leave from the nap
o The people partying in downtown Portland at 1 am

Leg 17
o cool, flattish, dark—felt good

Between Legs 17 and 29
o the 16 minutes!
o foggy/cool/misty: very unlike the toasty conditions we would see later
o sleep for some/pancakes for

the rest
o some classic vans: handing out bananas/Go NADS/Elvis
o sneaking up behind Joe and blowing the damsel- in distress whistles

Last leg
o the agony of the 3.5 mile climb in 90°F
o how good it felt to ride the downhills to the exchange

How we lost Eric after his name was announced at the finish

Return to Portland
o The story of the car wash
o “Mambo Italiano” song

Richard is a HTC veteran who ran with the team in 2005. In 2006 he ran legs numbers 9, 21 and 33. He especially remembered:

Pulled over by a motorcycle cop on the way to Mt. Hood. “....but officer, we were just following the van in front of us” (driven by Cap’n “Leadfoot” Joe). I saw the same cop again on the second day. He asked me how the race was going for me. I said “Pretty good. Our team is so fast that yesterday you pulled us over and told us to slow down”.

Cap’n Joe’s note to self: just following along with traffic: BAD. Actually looking at the speedometer: GOOD.

The infamous 16 minutes. If Van-1 could just stick to the schedule, Van-2 could sleep in and still be on time, but nooo, Van-1 had to be 25 minutes ahead of pace!

Cap’n Joe’s comment: there’s that speeding thing again! That must be the theme for 2006.

While the team is always about having fun, not performance, we finished the 197-mile course in 26:02:22, an average of about 7:56 per mile. That was much faster than we had planned to do and placed us 196 out of 1,032 teams overall; and 33 of 303 in the Mixed Open division. It also wreaked havoc with our planning, resulting in a 16-minute “time out” during one exchange between the two vans! I guess having fun can really help you run faster!

One final set of memories from Adam, who ran legs 6, 18 and 30 for the team:

This was my first HTC experience. I’d lived in Portland for 25 years, ran for many of those years and often heard about HTC; but for some reason I just never looked into it. I guess at age 51 I felt like having an adventure—and this was cheaper than buying a motorcycle or having an affair! So I took a risk and randomly found my team at the last moment through Craig’s list. The New York Flyers turned out to be the best team I could have envisioned. What better way to get to know five total strangers than to spend two days with them in a van and on the race course?

I remember it was pitch black on Highway 30 and I was supposed to give Renee a cup of Gatorade when she ran by, except I missed her in the dark. I felt so bad about letting her down; so we raced ahead with the van and our captain helped spot her before she reached me. When I ran beside her to give her the cup, I told her that I couldn’t make her out in the dark earlier, and instead of being upset with me, she said she was sorry. What a good sport!

Leg 18: It was just before dawn when I started this run along deserted and hilly county roads too narrow to allow team vans. Though it was dark when I started, I could smell the morning about to break—the wet grass and the farms. I climbed the hills by feel rather than by sight, but felt comfortable and energized. And then daylight began to grow, allowing me to eventually see the beautiful countryside around me. I felt blessed to be alive, fit and running in this beautiful environment.

It was hard to say goodbye to the team at the end. We’d shared this unique experience together outsiders can’t really understand. It’s no wonder that people come back to do HTC year after year.

And with a little luck, the Flyers will once again be successful in entering and sending a team to HTC 2007.


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