I walked the Portland to Coast Relay Walk for 15 years. But last year I swore off it. Why would I leave this super party relay behind after all those years? Here are reasons to just say no to the Hood to Coast Relay or Portland to Coast Relay.
1. Sleep Deprivation: You are in a van for over 24 hours. The race starts Friday morning and ends sometime on Saturday. Few people can get proper rest. Most of the one-timers who join the team and never come back say they just couldn’t take the sleep deprivation.
2. The Massive Traffic Jam: All night long and most of the day you are part of Oregon’s longest traffic jam.This is not my idea of fun.
3. The Hostiles: Some folks who live along the route hate the event, or just get their jollies in harrassing the runners and walkers.
4. Cost: The team registration fees for walking teams are $888 and running teams $1320. Renting hotel rooms or a house on the coast doubles that amount. Gas for the two vans and van rental add hundreds of dollars more. Typically, our team needed $200 per member. Unless you have a sponsor, that is steep.
5. Communication Problems: Cell phones stop working between St. Helens and Seaside. That makes the nice HTC app for the iPhone useless as well, until AT&T puts up cell towers all along the way. Sometimes you can get a little service in Mist. This means you have to rely on radios to communicate between the two vans and your walker/runner.
6. Long Legs With No Restrooms: Some of the legs are 6-8 miles long without any restrooms in between. While runners might be able to handle that, it can be a long slog for a walker. If you are caught using a bush rather than a restroom, your team can be disqualified.
7. Porta-Johns with Long Lines: So your walker and the other 5 people in your van made it through the leg and now you can use the restroom. But the line for the porta-john is long as all of the other vans are in the same boat. You won’t see a flush toilet for most of 24 hours.
8. Flaky Team Mates: There are massive logistics to putting together a team. Then people drop out at the last minute and you have to scramble for a replacement. Or they suddenly need a ride back from the coast much earlier than the rest of the team. The worst story is when a team’s second van just decided they’d had enough and took off to go shopping instead, leaving the other van to finish the race.
9. Smelly Team Mates: Spending over 24 hours in a van with 6 people and little chance to enhance your personal hygeine can be more than the sensitive can handle.
10. The Cheaters: Runners might cheat by breaking rotation. But walkers cheat by running. I constantly hear fast footsteps coming up behind me, then somebody passes who is barely able to exceed my speed when truly walking. Then once they are ahead, they take off like a shot again. While this is penalized if they are reported, it is hard to get their team number at night to report them.
For thousands of people, the fun of the event outweighs the negatives and they still turn away over half of the running teams who apply for slots. We wish everyone a great race.
Portland to Coast Relay Walk 101
How do you form a Portland to Coast Relay walking team?
What does the team captain do?
What do the walkers do?
What do the vans do?
How does the rotation work?
What do the team volunteers do?
What gear does the team need?
How does the team finish?
What are the rules?