(Sorry some of this is going to sound a little heavily Nike – I wrote a recap for an internal presentation and am just cutting and pasting from there.
While still in Shanghai, we had to to come up with a team name and theme, we wanted to represent our location. As everyone knows, Greater China is a large geography and with team members coming from Shenyang, Shanghai and Hong Kong, we wanted to have something that would be representative of all of our cities, yet not a clichéd trope. During lunch, oddly enough, we landed on our theme of “Got Noodles?” and came up with the graphic and t- shirt.
First thing, however, since this was a Nike sponsored trip, there was some Nike history involved.
Arriving in Portland the Tuesday prior to the race, the team took the opportunity to participate in the Hood to Coast Runner Summit. Learning the story of Steve Prefontaine as well as exploring the history of Nike through the lenns of the Oregon track team and the University of Oregon was highly inspirational and educational. Additionally, for many of our teammates who do not have the opportunity to visit campus, the WHQ tour gave us additional insights to life and work for our global and North American colleagues.
I also took the opportunity to run in the nice Portland weather and across some bridges in the early morning of jet lag.
In Eugene at Hayward Field
Full Team Shot at U of O
Pre-gaming with Portland Food Trucks (Koi Fusion, Lardo and the OMG SO DELICIOUS PBJ GRILLED)
At Salt & Straw for Ice Cream
Because these awesome vans served as our “haven” for the next 36 hours, it was crucial we gave them identities that were personal to us. “Got Noodles”? was our team name, but “Run for Noodles” became our mantra – which got us a lot of attention on the road!
We really should have named our van
Actually, this was one of my favorite parts of the relay – all of the decorated cars. Of course, there were many many many juvenile, prurient jokes. Which I enjoyed greatly.
So I got a lot of questions about how the whole thing actually works. Well, there are 12 runners on a team split between two vans (6 per van) Runners 1-6 start off at the beginning (up at Mt. Hood). Runner 1 gets dropped off by the van – he or she takes off and the van drives off and tries to beat the runner to handoff point one to drop off runner 2 and pick up runner 1. Each leg is between 3 and 8 miles. At the 6 to 7 handoff point, van 1 will hand off to van 2, and when runner 6 is picked up, van 1 will drive down to the 12-13 handoff point and try to get some rest while van 2 runs its 6 legs. Each runner will end up running 3 legs (I was leg 8, leg 20 and leg 32) – the legs are graded from easy to very hard (mine were moderate, very hard and easy) until the 32nd leg ends up in Seaside, OR – 300km away from Mt. Hood.
So running the damn thing. The idea of spending 30+ hours in a minivan which gets smaller and smaller each hour you spend in it – with 5 other sweaty, tired, hot, cold, did I mention tired people doesn’t sound like very much fun. But it was. We supported each other. Ran hard. Limped around. Tried to sleep (I only slept like 40 minutes in the 30 hours). Drove. Ate lots of beef jerky and energy gels. It was awesome. I would love to do it again, but unfortunately Nike paying for it from China, that boat has already sailed. Here’s some photos:
Tracy ready to run leg 12
Me ready to run leg 20 – the dirt route. Oh man, 5 miles straight uphill, one half mile downhill then another 2 miles uphill before a final half mile downhill. All on a dusty dusty road (hence the ninja mask).
Then the finish – Seaside OR – also where the final scene of Goonies was shot. Nike took major care of us with a giant Hawaiian barbecue, beverages, a sand volleyball court and a prime location on the beach.
As a post race reward, we went to Portland’s famous Screen Door. William, one of our China co-workers who is doing a stretch assignment in the US said he’d never seen anyone eat more than one piece of the fried chicken. I ate two easily and could’ve eaten the third, but that felt like gluttony.
In the end it was one of the most fun experiences of my sporting life. I still kind of wish I was sitting in a van right now. I would really really love to do it again, but I suppose that will take me moving back to the US. If you have the chance to participate, I wouldn’t hesitate one second.