Only the strong survive Hood to Coast

Sports commentary


News Intern

North America’s largest congregation of folks with nothing better to do — besides cram themselves into undersized living quarters with 11 other people while getting sweaty, dusty, sleepy and grouchy — got together last weekend.

Billed as North America’s largest relay race, the Nationwide Insurance Hood to Coast Relay attracted 1,000 teams of 12 people to Timberline Lodge last Friday for the start of the 22nd annual event.

Each runner must run three legs of the 198-mile course, which goes from Timberline Lodge to Seaside. The legs range in length from three to eight miles, and teams usually send their strongest runners out on the most grueling routes.

The first leg is a brutal six-mile down hill run from Timberline to Government Camp. It’s usually run by either the runner with the strongest legs, or the person who missed the team meeting where everyone was assigned their legs.

All too often, you see runners on the first leg with a look on their face that says, “this event sounded a lot more fun back in October.”

As part of the fun, people decorate their vans or name their teams in ways that make light of the fact that they are paying $900 to go for 20 to 30 hours without sleep, coffee or tranquilizers.

Others don’t realize that the idea is silly, so they turn their Suburban into a make-shift pirate ship. Yarr!

However, in the midst of all the fun and excitement, there is always a point where the team’s morale takes a bit of a dip.

It usually comes with the morning, and the realization that the worst is over — yet there is still a lot more remaining than you would like.

To make matters worse, race organizers stagger the start times so the elite teams blow by you just as the depression is setting in.

This year, our team (Gorge Plodders) had an early enough start time that we didn’t get passed until our team was in the finish chute with thousands of people watching.

This is usually a team’s one moment of glory: When your team passes under the finish banner and the announcer says your team name as you finish, so everyone can hear of your tremendous accomplishment.

We were lucky enough to be passed in the finish chute by the relay’s winning team, the NCIC All-Stars. That was the time when all the misery became worth it. But something happened, and somehow we were never mentioned.

Our recognition eventually came when we were mentioned in Norm Maves’ coverage of Hood to Coast in The Oregonian: “... when (the winners) were a few feet beyond the finish banner, dodging in and out of slower, walking teams ...”

That was us. Slower, and walking. And there’s even a picture to prove it.

If you look in the Aug. 24 Oregonian sports section, there’s a picture of the winners celebrating as they cross the finish line. In the background, there’s a kid that looks like he’s tagging along to get autographs. That was me.

I’m just going to maintain that our team was barely beat by the winning team.

Overall, this year’s experience was a good one. Maybe that’s just because I’ve had a week to recover. Either way, it’s making next year sound good ... for now.


The NCIC All-Stars, a team composed of small-college alumni, won the Hood to Coast relay in a time of 18 hours, 43 minutes, 33 seconds. The top women’s team was Baba Yaga, of Monticello, Minn., which finished the race in 21:28:59.

Local team “Road Trash” took 14th in the men’s Submasters category, and 69th overall with a time of 23:23:18.

And the Gorge Plodders of Hood River finished in 27:28:03, good for 108th in the Mixed Open category and 495th overall.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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