Secrets to Rocking Hood to Coast
Some people have run Hood to Coast. Then there's Larry Merrifield, Jr., who has finished the Mother of All Relays 27 times and will notch his race-number belt again this weekend. (He must have started in grade school.) We couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask Larry and our other Hood-to-Coast experts how they do it. They responded generously with insider tips on what to do and what to take with you. Read on, and rock the relay. Many of the essential items they mention are available for purchase at Portland Running Company right now. Portland Running Company. Good shoes. Great Advice.
Editor's note: Dave Harkin's blog "Zero to Hero in 200 Miles" remains the definitive guide to surviving Hood to Coast.
- "Have a high carbohydrate meal, which is not filling, immediately after you finish your first leg. This is important because the nutrients and energy within that meal will be metabolized by the time you run your third leg. You should keep the meal simple. Brown rice and beans is a good place to start. Add a few vegetables, but don't go too heavy on the fiber. Another option, which has a little more protein is the good 'ol PB&J. Protein and carbs all rolled into one. The higher fat content should not be an issue for many people" -Larry Merrifield, Jr., PRC Race Team, 27 Hood to Coasts
- "Take a plastic garbage bag for your wet clothes. Get your wet clothes off ASAP. Make sure you warm up AND cool down, even if the cool-down is a 10-minute walk." -Jim Ney, PRC staff, 23 Hood to Coasts
- "Have your change of clothes for each leg that you are running in a Ziplock bag: shirt, shorts, etc. That makes it a lot easier to find in your bag--reach in and pull out a pre-packaged outfit. It is a time-saver." -Katey Angel, 10 Hood to Coasts, one Hood-to-Coast victory (women's overall 1986)
- "Don't eat or drink anything that you've not tried before in your regular training regimen. You don't want any gastrointestinal "surprises" out there. -Phil Orlowski, PRC staff, 15 Hood-to-Coasts, remembers when there were just 167 entrants(!)
- "When it is allowed, have both vans on the course... ...Have one van take the next runner to their exchange while the other van supports the current runner. Nothing heartens a runner like knowing their friends are going to be there. Try everything before race time including running three times in 24 hours and running at night with your vest and headlamp. Do a short run (4-5 miles) around noon, another just after dark, and a third first thing the next morning. Take some food that will be really appetizing at 2 a.m. Try roasting some little red potatoes, apply butter or a more healthy oil and sea salt. These are quite tasty and will travel well and are pretty good cold. Leave a bit in the tank your first leg. You may feel great, but hold off on really pushing yourself. Save that for your last leg. Likewise if you aren't having a great first leg don't be too discouraged. You will frequently bounce back better for your later legs." -Brent MacDermot, 22 Hood to Coasts, two Rainier-to-Pacific relays, eight Vancouver Island relays, and one Lewis and Clark relay from Idaho to the Pacific
- "Longtime listener, first-time caller, one-time Hood-to-Coaster. Compression socks and the Stick for recovery in between legs. Improved veinous return from the socks helps flush waste and reduce swelling that can be caused by sitting long periods in the van. The Stick is great as a self-massage tool after each leg as well as to help activate some of those muscles before you go out and hammer." -Mike Orr, PRC staff and team, one Hood to Coast
- "I couldn't survive Hood to Coast (or any race) without my post-race gear. Must-haves for me are recovery sandals, compression calf sleeves, and something warm and cozy like a hooded sweatshirt." -Liz Anjos, PRC Race Team and staff, one Hood to Coast
- "One must-have item that we sell would be the Safe Sound Speakers to drown out the whine of your teammates. ;) Also, our Moving Comfort Juno bras: You need all the support you can get without sleep and a shower for 30 hours!" -Holly Haffey, PRC Race Team and staff, one Hood to Coast
- "I have run HTC three times and I always keep my three running outfits in gallon Ziplock bags to stay organized and to have an easy way to store stinky clothes when done running and cut down on van stench." -Jennifer Parsons, PRC staff, three Hood to Coasts
- "Couple of things: Baby-food pouches make an easy, nutritious snack that keeps without a cooler. Great way to get your fruits and veggies on the go. Van #1: Shell out $2 for a sleep, and maybe a couple of bucks for a shower and warm breakfast at the high school in St. Helens. It supports the school, and you'll feel human again. Be warned, though, one loud-snorer can keep a gym full of people awake!" -Ryan, PRC Race Team and staff, one Hood to Coast
- "Bring three pairs of socks, a different dry outfit for each leg of the race, a plastic bag for the aforementioned items, and a big foam club for beating your teammates (never gets old)." -Mary Becker, PRC staff, four Hood to Coasts, four Rainier-to-Pacific relays
- "Don't go out too fast, especially on your first leg." -Bret Kimple, PRC Race Team, a dozen Hood to Coasts
- "I would say one of the most important things for me was bringing food along. With the teams I was on food was provided, but you just don't know if what they bring suits your needs. I get used to eating certain things right after a run that work best for me, and I think eating soon after running is a very important element for that last leg. Hope that helps!" -Eric Griffiths, PRC Race Team, two Hood to Coasts
- "Change of clothes for every leg. And I mean fresh underwear, sports bra, everything." -Sarah Price, PRC staff, one-time Portland-to-Coaster
"A few things come to mind. Pack three VERY different meals. I get bored with three sandwiches, and by the third time eating eat, you'll freak out. Eat right after running. Eat a good amount, and mix with protein and carbs. Pack a variety of snacks too, but don't eat them too closely to running. I would eat my meal right after running, then have an odwalla bar 1.5 hours before my run. Drink tons of water. Prepare to not get any sleep. Prepare to sleep upright. Bring warm clothes because it will be really cold at night and in the van. Put your outfits in Ziplock baggies, then you can put the sweaty ones back in those. Bring a towel for the impromptu shower. That might not happen until you are done, however, so bring wet wipes."-Hallie Janssen, PRC Race Team, five Hood to Coasts
- "Have multiple reflective vests in each van! They get super sweaty so it's nice to have a rotation going so they can dry out a bit in between runners. Don't eat too heavy the night before or in between your legs. Pack protein in the van with you: almonds, peanut butter, protein bars, etc. Bring a tarp for under your sleeping bag if you plan on sleeping outside at one of the handoff points. Bring the Stick and take a moment to stretch after each leg."-Kristen Ott, PRC staff, seven Hood to Coasts
- "This is my first time running H2C!!! I'm so excited. I've heard some great advice from Sarah and from a customer. First, bring a cheap sleeping bag and, second, bring an outfit for each leg and keep in separate Ziplock bags." -Anna Connor, PRC staff and team, first-timer!
You can find the Stick, Nathan Power Shower Wipes, Safe Sound Speakers, Pro Bars, Petzl headlamps, and all your Hood-to-Coast provisions at Portland Running Company's two stores today.