29th Hood to Coast Relays: Running with Last Legs, by Gary Morgan/Michigan Runner, note by Larry Eder

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Hood to Coast, Last Legs masters team, photo by Gary Morgan

Many who have read my blog over the last three years note that Gary Morgan is one of the global running travelers. Gary Morgan is an accomplished athlete; a 1988 Olympian at the 20,000m race walk. Since then, Gary has run and raced nearly every major marathon in the
U.S. and abroad. This year, Gary ran the Comrades Marathon, RNR San Antonio (he does pace groups at many of the marathons and half marathons). Gary also is part of my RN Running Network TV road show, and we have done shows in Berlin, Beijing,Boston,  Des Moines, you name it, if we are in the same stadium, there is a video camera somewhere near!

Gary is literally at a race each and every weekend. He loves the sport and loves running. I believe his secret training aid is...yoga! He swears by it! Always a smile on his face, and a great story from his recent exploits, Gary is just fun to be around!

This is Gary's email plus photos from the Hood to Coast. He recently ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon as well! I hope you enjoy! 
     Going to the relay race Hood to Coast was going to be logistical challenge as I drove from New York City to Clarkston, Michigan on Wednesday night and then caught a plane out of Detroit Metro on Thursday night. Changed planes in San Francisco and landed in Portland Oregon at 12:30 am Friday Morning. Then waited there until 10 am for my teammates, from the team called Last Legs, (a mixed masters team of 6 women and 6 men) to pick me up and headed up to Mt Hood for the start of the "Mother of all Relays, Hood to Coast", 197 miles of awesome scenery, sleepless night and lots of runners. I did a relay race just to get to the start.

     The race is even more logistics.

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Super Sounds, Hood to Coast 2010, photo by Gary Morgan 

     As we get there around 1:30 pm, teams were leaving every 15 minutes. There's 1000 teams consisting of 12 runners. approximately 15 to 20 teams are in each group. They have been taking off since 6:30 am and will keep leaving until 6:30 pm. My team Last Legs started at 3:30pm. The race started at Timberline Lodge which is at 6,000ft. Mt Hood is majestic behind the lodge rising 11,265ft.

     As the sun shined on us as we waited for our first teammate to run it was awesome. Great picture taking time. Shirley our team captain takes off on a 5 mile downhill run and we take off to the first exchange zone.

      We get to exchange zone one and theres lots of excitement as teams are handing off the blue magnetic wrist band the each running team member hands off at exchange zones. I ran leg number 6 which was a 7.4 mile stretch of up and down hills. It was getting to be dusk so I had to run with a reflective vest and a flashlight. My quads knew I had just run that leg. I still had 2 more legs to run in the next 18 hours. I'm in van one and were done running for the next 4.5 hours.

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Pink Ladys, Hood to Coast 2010, photo by Gary Morgan 

     We head off to the number 12 exchange zone. We park the van in a parking lot under the freeway bridges in downtown Portland next to a camp of homeless people. They had to be wondering what to hell was going on. A 1,000 vehicles with 1000's of runners keeping them up all night. Shirley our fearless leader took the next run from there. She's a relay veteran with 22 hood to coast relays under her belt and she has run every single leg.

     I ran leg 18 at 3am and it was a short 4.1 miles but a 300 foot elevation. Plus, running in the dark is always tough even with a head lamp. When I finished that leg I took a long nap. we get another 4.5 hour break as the runners in the other van run. We headed to exchange zone 24 where lots of runners lay out sleeping bags on the ground and sleep. So theres vans and runners sleeping out in this open field. It was cool to see.

     I ran leg number 30 for my last leg. It was 5.25 mile downhill to flat run. My quads were screaming almost as bad as when I ran Comrades in May. That gave me 16.75 miles for the relay. Everyone ran between 15 and 18 miles for the relay.

     We're done and we headed for Seaside Oregon, the finish of the race and the finish spot for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806. That is truly a fitting spot for the Hood to Coast Relay to finish. The beach here is spectacular. Our last runner came in and we all ran through the finish line together. Our total time was 25hours and 59 minutes which gave us 4Th in the mixed masters and Shirley's team Last Legs gets an automatic entry next. Like most big races it's a lottery to get in now.

     What an epic adventure this was and I'd do it again in a heart beat. I've always heard about this race and how great it is. Well, it lived up to it's reputation. Next year is the 30Th running of this race and I'm sure the race organizers will go to make it special. You gotta put this on your list of races to do. Til next time Keep on Running.

You can see more from Gary Morgan at www.michiganrunner.net and at www.runningnetwork.com.

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