Now for the exciting part: (drumroll, please) the Hood to Coast Relay race. Here we go…
Our Team: Singapore Chili Crabs
Singapore Chili Crabs had 12 runners and 2 vans. I was part of Van 2 along with my teammates:
Runner 7: CK
Runner 8: Coco
Runner 9: Cool Aussie
Runner 10: TBR
Runner 11: Fast Boy
Runner 12: Hyper T
The Way It Works
Basically, this is how the relay goes: Each runner runs three legs of approximately 10km each in rotation with the 11 other runners in the team.
Van 1 starts off the race with their 6 runners covering Legs 1 to 6. When they are done, Van 2 takes over while the first van eats, bathes, or rests. Van 2 finishes Legs 7 to 12 after which Van 1 takes over again to cover Legs 13 to 18, while Van 2 freshens up. This cycle occurs thrice until the last runner, Runner No. 12, finishes Leg 36 and crosses the finish line at Seaside.
While a runner runs his leg, the 5 others in the team remain in the van and provide support—be it food and drinks, moral support, or the requisite jokes and entertainment . At the same time, the van drives off towards the next exchange point where the current runner will pass the green wristband to the next runner.
The race is non-stop and lasts for over 24 hours (unless you’re freakin’ fast). Our team started on August 28, Friday at 7:30 a.m. We estimated 30 hours to complete the race.
Last Minute Preparations
Since Van 1 started early in the a.m., our team had a leisurely breakfast at a cozy cafe near the hotel. It was quite the antithesis of the race conditions for the days ahead.
We set off to meet Van 1 at the Leg 7 exchange point where our first runner, CK, would grab the green wrist band from Van 1’s last runner, VC, Nike Singapore employee and one of the country’s top female triathletes.
We reached the area to find the parking lot filled with colorful, well-decorated vans and runners warming up, buying last minute supplies, or sun-bathing on mats.
We purchased more markers, art materials, and a large flower balloon for our van and decided to spruce it up while waiting for VC to come in.
First Exchange Point…and Many More
Fast Boy and I accompanied CK to our first exchange point. It was the first of many more exchange points that I would see. The atmosphere was tense and nerve-wracking, but it was also filled with boisterous laughter, constant cheering, and lots of chatter from other runners.
We wished CK the best of luck as she crossed the road towards the exchange point under the sweltering heat of the noon sun. As soon as she set off to run her 10k leg, we jumped into the van and took to the road.
We passed CK twice and gave her liquids to combat the heat. It was as humid as Manila during lunchtime! We used our Hood to Coast cowbell, which we shook with vigor everytime we passed our runner on the road as we yelled words of encouragement (or sometimes innocuous teasing.)
After that, we went ahead to Leg 8 exchange point where our next runner, Coco, prepared himself as he waited for CK to turn over the green wrist band so he could run next.
After Coco, it was Cool Aussie’s turn. We knew we had to drive fast because Cool Aussie was a fast runner. At the same time, I nervously prepared my run gear: Amphipod water belt, ipod shuffle, and Polar watch, then downed one espresso Hammer gel. All set!