Hood to Coast 2019

In the world of running there are many relays.  But only one “mother of all relays”, also known as the Hood to Coast Relay.  This iconic race annually draws teams from across the world to compete.  On August 23 & 24th our Harris Group relay team “Feets of Engineering” successfully completed the 2019 HTC relay which is their 3rd Hood to Coast relay, and their 6th team running relay.  

Hood to Coast; the “mother of all relays” is an overnight 200-mile-long relay race which starts at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon (elevation 5,960 feet).  It zig-zags down the twisty pine tree lined mountain roads, eventually making its way thru the Portland, Oregon metro area before proceeding back into the coast range mountains, thru the coastal countryside, finally ending on the beach at Seaside, Oregon.  

Our relay team consists of 12 members (6 runners in each of two vans).  Each team member runs three legs apiece and each leg is about 6 miles long.  So, this means each team member ends up running a total of about 18 miles (or 3/4s of a marathon) during the approximate 32-hour length of the relay.  Race organizers also require each team to provide 3 volunteers to work at the relay exchanges.  Some teams like Harris Group also have dedicated drivers for each of their two team vans.  

In total our Harris Group team included 13 employees, 3 family members and one client guest runner participating in this adventure we know and love.  The opportunity to run this iconic race drew our 12 runners from across the country, including employees from 5 different Harris Group offices and even one guest client and marathoner from Houston, Texas!

Feets of Engineering was assigned a start time of 6:00 a.m. this year.  So, our runners in van 1 were treated to a spectacular, crystal clear sunrise from Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood.   With a stunning view across the snow topped Cascade Range, runner one from our Portland office took off running the quad killing 5.44-mile first leg straight down the mountain for a 2,000 feet elevation loss, ending up at Government Camp where he handed off the baton to runner 2 from our Seattle office.  The cool, crisp 44-degree mountain temperature made for perfect running weather to start the 200-mile trek to the coast.

However, in August the cool of the morning does not last long. After coming out of the mountains and back into the city for the first van exchange at 11 a.m., temperatures made their way back up into the 80’s.  Lack of a breeze and direct sun on the concrete race route through the city for the remainder of the day took its toll.  Our runners had to work harder in the heat, sapping energy and consequently slowing their pace a bit.  

But heading out of the city and into the tree filled coast range after sunset, our runners saw reinvigoration in the team energy and enthusiasm.  After a little food, a couple of hours of rest and the cooler nighttime temperatures everyone seemed to revive and finished their second set of legs very strong.

The third set of legs occur in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  After a grueling previous day of running, energy levels were low, and everyone dug deep to power thru on sheer indomitable spirit and willpower.  The final legs for van 2 heading for Seaside saw a few of our runners get a little wet from passing coastal showers.  With the invigoration from the cool rain, runner twelve from our Charleston, South Carolina office barreled on into Seaside heading strong to the finish.  The entire Harris Group team met up with runner 12 as he entered the promenade on the beach, where the team then ran across the finish line together, concluding our 2019 Hood to Coast adventure!

Finally, the unsung heroes of our HTC relay team remain our drivers and volunteers.  The drivers have the daunting task of shuttling our runners safely from exchange to exchange during the 32-hour relay with virtually no sleep.  The runners can at least nap between legs, but the drivers always need to be on point.  And without our 3 volunteers committing 6 or more hours of their day to working the exchanges and assisting all the runners, our team would be disqualified from the race.  Thank you to all of our drivers, volunteers and runners for making Hood to Coast 2019 one of the best yet!