Hood to Coast: Best Race Ever!

Sunday, 6 September 2009  |  Favorite Posts, Race Reports

“You’re tougher than you think you are,
and you can do more than you think you can.”

– Ken Chlouber on the Leadville Trail 100 (Born to Run, Christopher McDougall)

It was my turn to run. As I saw Cool Aussie running towards me, I took a deep breath, grabbed the green band from his hand, and set off to run my first leg.

LEG 10: Windy Run through the Backroads of Oregon…Fantastic!

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Weather: Cloudy and windy
Temperature: 27C
Description: “Long leg mostly along Springwater Trail then city streets over relatively rolling and flat terrain”

– Springwater Trail –

By this time, the intense heat that scorched my teammates during their run had dissipated and I was blessed with cool weather with winds blowing upon my face. The long paved road I was running on was narrow—just enough for two runners to run alongside each other—with trees lining both sides. I glanced at the road ahead with pure excitement, cranked up my speed, and put on my race face.

I swept past a few runners, but could not, for the life of me, outrun one older lady runner. After a few kilometers, we settled into a comfortably hard pace and run side-by-side. Boy, she was tiring me out. When we reached a turn on the road leading to a short climb towards even narrower roads, I spotted my teammates waiting to provide support. I smiled, waived off the drink they were offering, and sped off to leave lady runner behind.

This was the time I managed to admire my surroundings: abundance of nature around me, fresh air, and the sound of only panting runners, made me smile no matter how tired I was. I remember thinking how absolutely happy I was at that very moment and thanking God once again for such a great opportunity to run.

The run was much longer than I thought. After throwing all I’ve got during the first few kilometers (a common mistake for overly eager runners), I realized I was tiring out. I was glad to see city roads which meant I was nearing the exchange point, but it was a long ascent towards the finish. I trudged along, made a right turn towards the end, and excitedly searched for my teammates, especially Fast Boy, who was the next runner.

Distance: 10km*
Time: 54.19
Ave. Pace: 5:25 min/km*
Ave. Cadence: 87
Ave. Altitude: -12m
Ascent/Descent: 15m/25m

* adjusted from uncalibrated Polar reading

Among the crowd of runners, I yelled out with outstretched hands “Where are my teammates?!!!” They were nowhere in sight. I was about to exit the exchange area until a marshal said it was against the rules. I waited, and waited, and waited. A runner told me “I feel sorry for you. Your team abandoned you.” I didn’t think so, I was sure something had happened. Did they lose their way? Or worse, did they get into an accident? I replied, “Oh, it’s okay. I feel sorry for the next runner who’ll have to make up for lost time.”

After a long wait, my teammates arrived. They mistakenly drove towards the next exchange point, skipping mine. Fast Boy ran his leg and we all entered the van laughing. This little mishap essentially spelled out our van’s mission for the race: to have fun. Other teams would’ve labelled this a “mess up,” or blamed each other for the lost time, but not our team. As we drove off, our van captain, Cool Aussie, said that this little mishap made our race experience all the more richer. In between bites of chicharon, we agreed.


When all six of us completed our legs, we turned over the band to Van 1 and headed back to the hotel. We showered, rested a bit in our own rooms, and met again at 9 p.m. to head to the next exchange point.

– Bumping into Team Singapore Noodles just outside the hotel –


LEG 22: Wet and wild night run

Time: 1:10 a.m.
Weather: Cold and rainy
Temperature: 20C
Description: “Gradual up and downhills on paved but narrow back country roads”

– It was cold, wet, and dark by the time we reached the exchange point –

– The start of Leg 2 for all of us at Van 2. Here’s Van 1 turning over the time sheet to Van 2 –

Before my run, CK had run her leg with no incident. As Coco run his tough uphill leg, we had yet another mishap where we waited for him in the dead of the night along the course, only to discover that he had been waiting for us at the finish for some 30 minutes. (It was so dark out that he probably ran past us on the road.) As usual, we had a good laugh about this mishap. Cool Aussie, as usual, ran a fast leg in the dark.

By this time, it was freezing cold. I wore a long-sleeved top, long tights, jacket, beanie, and gloves, yet every time I stepped out of the van, my teeth would start chattering. The rains didn’t help at all.

As I prepared for my second leg, I also wore the reflective night vest over my rain jacket, chose to carry the torch instead of a headlamp, plus I added a cap to wear on top of my beanie. I left the gloves behind. I was nervous and scared about this run. I had never run this early in the morning in the dark, and here I was making my first attempt in unknown territory.

I saw Cool Aussie coming in, grabbed the band from him, and climbed up the narrow trail along with a handful of runners. After a few meters, the terrain changed to paved roads but the ascent was steep—similar to the zigzagged roads of Baguio—that I was short of breath. The thin, cold air made it all the more difficult to breathe. It was so cold that in my second kilometer, my upper lip completely went numb!

I was having some difficulty with the torch, too. In pitch black, with every swing of my arm, the light would sway back and forth ahead of me; it was like running in a disco and it was getting me dizzy. I shut it off for a few seconds, and in an instant, I could see absolutely nothing, I turned it on and swore to God I would never scare myself that way again.

The entire time, I ran on the left side of the road at the edge of the mountain; one misstep and I could fall into nothingness. One time, as I tried to fix my beanie which was sliding off my head, I didn’t realize that I was veering off to the left (one doesn’t notice these things while running full speed ahead in the dark). When I focused my torch on the road, I was so close to the edge that I could’ve slid off in a step or two! Phew.

After the long climb, it was all downhill to the end. I abhor downhills as they’re bad for my knees, so I ran fast but practiced caution. Before I knew it, I could see Fast Boy waiting for me at the end. CK grabbed me by the arm to lead me to the car. Coco asked my time and I looked at my watch in the dark and said “1:10” Geez, 1 hour 10 minutes for approx. 11k? That was slower than expected. No worries, I submitted that time anyway. (It was only when I got back to Manila that I discovered I submitted the time of day, not my actual time! Whoops)

Distance: 10.96 km*
Time: 1:00 hour
Ave. Pace: 5:27 min/km*
Ave. Cadence: 88
Ave. Altitude: 29m
Ascent/Descent: 120m/180m

* adjusted from uncalibrated Polar reading


After our van finished our legs, we set off for a local highschool that offered hot showers and sleep areas at their gym for all Hood to Coast runners. For $2, we got to wash up (in a public shower…oh boooy!) and we got to secure our own tiny spot on the gym floor where close to a hundred runners lay in the dark getting as much sleep as they could before it was time to run off again.

– Our home away from home –

– Yes, that’s what we needed! –

By 7 a.m., we got up, and without washing our faces nor brushing our teeth, we loaded our van with gas and headed off for the next exchange station.

– Our view as we entered the car to start our 3rd leg –

LEG 34: Tough and Tiring

Time: 11:22 a.m.
Weather: Cool and rainy
Temperature: 22C
Description: “Very short leg in length with gently rolling hills along paved country roads”

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel sleepy nor tired that morning. I was looking forward to my last leg which, based on the course description, sounded like it was going to be easy. CK had decided to run the last leg with our last runner, Hyper T, so Coco chose to run my seemingly easy leg along with me.

– Runners that passed us as we waited for our runner, Cool Aussie –

– Coco yelled out to a male runner “My teammate loves you!” referring to Hyper T. Unfortunately, it was Fast Boy standing beside him! –

– Photo op with the big red barn while waiting –

– There’s our runner, Cool Aussie! –

For the 3rd and last time, I grabbed the green wristband from Cool Aussie and ran full speed ahead. Coco stayed right behind me.

By the first kilometer, after one major uphill climb, I yelled at Coco and told him “Go ahead if you want to. I’m super tired.” And, I was telling the truth. I felt like that first climb had yanked all the energy out of me and finally all the hours of running and traveling had caught up with me. I don’t even remember what he answered, but he remained right behind.

So much for “gently rolling hills,” I thought. These hills we were running were not gentle; they were aggressive and angry! The hills would not let up. After one hill, there would be another, and another, and another. I continued to plod on forward, but I was falling apart. Thankfully, on the middle of the road, our van awaited and provided us with Gatorade, which allowed me to push forward once again. We even managed to enjoy the sights when we passed a huge plot of land filled with the most cows I had ever seen.

– Ack, I get tired just seeing this photo! –

The last uphill was the toughest. It was long and arduous and I felt like I wasn’t making progress even as I took one step at a time. Slowly but surely, we reached the top and a few meters ahead, I saw Fast Boy and turned over the band to him.

– We did it! –

Wow, we survived! I finished my three legs in one piece and with no injury! What an amazing experience!

Distance: 6.85 km*
Time: 35:51
Ave. Pace: 5:14 min/km*
Ave. Cadence: 86
Ave. Altitude: 5m
Ascent/Descent: 50m/35m

* adjusted from uncalibrated Polar reading

– Race conditions before the last leg for Hyper T and CK. It was cold and muddy –

– Right before they got their jackets and set off to run –


The Nike Hood to Coast Race ends at the beach in Seaside, a picturesque little town which came to life with decorated vans and thousands of runners walking about in the streets.

– Town of Seaside –


Cool Aussie, Coco, Fast Boy and I headed for the finish area and waited for our runners CK and Hyper T to come in. After a few minutes, we spotted Hyper T and watched her cross the finish line to mark an amazing finish for Team Singapore Chili Crabs.

– Last few hundred meters towards the finish –

– Finish line –

– Nike area –

– Nike Japan team…heehee –

We met up with the rest of our teammates and Singapore Noodles at the Nike area on the beach. Against the background of the cloudy sky and the Pacific Ocean, we had tons of food to eat, beer, and lot of stories to share for hours.


The Nike Hood to Coast relay is what you make of it. Our team dove into the adventure with nothing but fun (and a little bit of competitiveness) in mind, so we came home with a treasure trove of happy stories to tell and memories to cherish. I will never forget the three different race experiences I had on those three legs (especially Leg 22), the great teammates I loved being stuck with for over 24 hours in a dirty, stinky van, the many mistakes we made yet laughed about, the beauty of Oregon I saw by foot, and of course, the lessons I learned along the journey. As many of us said after the trip, it was definitely the best race ever!

– Best teammates! –

– Singapore Chili Crabs! –

Previous related posts:
Hood to Coast: Aug 26, Wednesday
Hood to Coast: Aug 27, Thursday
Hood to Coast: And the Race Begins!

Hood to Coast: And the Race Begins!

Friday, 4 September 2009  |  Race Reports

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

– My Teammates…minus Hyper T –

– We’re not the fastest…but we’re the happiest! –

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.

– The Masterplan! –

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.

– Our Van –

– JUST EAT IT! That’s what we wrote on the paper that Coco and Fast Boy are preparing –

– Cool Aussie wrote our names all over the van –

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.

– CK waits as VC nears –

– VC finishes a fast 10k despite the heat –

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.)

– Waiting for CK to pass us on the route –

– Cool Aussie gives CK a drink. Check out that hill.  That was tiny compared to the other hills CK had to climb in her leg –

– This is what we do with our idle time on the road –

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.

– Exchange point between CK and Coco –

– Fast Boy hands Coco a gigantic bottle of Gatorade –

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!

PREVIOUS: Hood to Coast: Thursday
NEXT: Hood to Coast: Best Race Ever!

Hood to Coast: Aug 26, Wed

Wednesday, 2 September 2009  |  Bullish Insights

How the Nike peeps managed to squeeze all these activities into the entire trip in which, mind you, we were jet-lagged and racing for two out of the six days, I don’t know. But, let me tell you that I’m sure glad we maximized our trip and experienced Nike and its birthplace, Oregon, to the fullest.  Here’s what we did on Wednesday, the day we arrived in Portland…


There were 24 of us registered by Nike for the Hood to Coast Relay. We made up 2 teams of 12 runners each. My team was the Singapore Chili Crabs, while the other team was Singapore Noodles. Needless to say, majority of the runners were Singaporeans while there were 4 Filipinos, 1 Malaysian, and 1 Australian. All were Nike employees except for myself, Rashid (winner of Nike+ Challenge, Malaysia), and Jeannette, writer and two-time winner of Singapore Sundown Marathon 84km.

My newfound Nike friends lived and breathed the Nike culture: young, dynamic, driven, fun-loving, and adventurous. It was easy to see that they loved working for Nike and with each other. It felt like I was among a group of college friends who happened to just work and run together.


Nike was founded in Oregon by University of Oregon runner Phil Knight and his coach, Bill Bowerman. It was a company that was inspired by running.

It was just perfect then that the first stop on our itinerary was the Nike Campus, the world headquarters of Nike Inc., where all the great ideas for Nike apparel and shoes are born. Entering the campus was surreal. Dressed in full running gear, we dropped our bags at the impressive Lance Armstrong Building, which housed the employee gym, indoor rock climbing area, lap pool and jacuzzi, before we set out for a short group run.

– Entrance to Nike Campus –


– Take a closer look and you’ll spot runners of all shapes and sizes running after office hours –


We ran 3k around the unbelievably beautiful trail course lined with wood chips (felt like I was running on clouds!) and pine cones along the perimeter of the entire campus.


We crossed pedestrian bridges overlooking the highway, ran under heavily shaded areas, and trotted along the track oval (yes, they have one too!) while hamming it up for the camera along the way.







Our hospitable Nike Singapore hosts toured us around the campus where we visited other buildings named after world-renowned athletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and John McEnroe, to name a few. As a runner, my heart skipped a beat when I passed by the Joan Benoit Samuleson Center, the Steve Prefontaine Hall, which much to my dismay was locked, and even the Kik spinning room, named after Kristin Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance and contributor for Runner’s World.


I was hoping I’d bump into Nike athlete and my running idol, Kara Goucher, and her coach Alberto Salazar, but the closest I got to them both was to have my photo taken near an illustration of her on their run clinic truck and get up close to a shoe signed by Salazar.  Pathetic!

– Kara on my upper left –

– Zoom D, Nike’s first gold medal shoe. 1983 model autographed by Alberto Salazar –


After a quick shower at the gym (which is up to par with big gym facilities here in Manila), we headed for the Nike employee store where I purchased all the necessary equipment for the race that weren’t available in Manila: running gloves, beanie, long sleeves, and rain jacket. After those were ticked off the list, I went for another round of shopping and just went berserk.

Aaah, the life of a Nike employee. For a split second, I thought I’d surreptitiously drop by the HR department and leave my resume there…

NEXT: Hood to Coast: Thursday