Now that I’ve slept 18 hours and taken three showers, I’m ready to give the Wild Rogue Relay the solid review it deserves.
This relay was perfect. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it, but I do have plenty of good things to share.
To me, the best thing about Wild Rogue is that they cap the registration at 85 teams. There was always toilet paper in the Honey Buckets. No one had to get out of the van a mile from an exchange and run to meet their runner due to van jams. Exchanges always had ample parking. And often, you found yourself running all by yourself, which I thought was great.
There is something brilliant about turning a solitary sport into a team effort. The bonds you share with your van mates are strong – you can’t live together in a putrid-smelling van for two days without sharing a lot of yourself with your team. Since Wild Rogue was so un-congested, it felt as if we could enjoy everything more than at a massive relay like Hood to Coast.
We were also grateful for less traffic and congestion for this relay because we lost our driver at the last minute. We had to switch off running and driving. While I was dreading this and anxious at the thought of getting even less sleep, it wasn’t bad at all. I think everything would have been worse if we had to deal with a lot of bottlenecked vans around the exchanges.
Not only were we grateful for the lack of traffic, but the honey buckets were much better than during Hood to Coast as well. There was always a roll or two of toilet paper available, and while the buckets were a little full during the end of the race, they usually weren’t so foul that you couldn’t use them.
Exhaustion played a large part during this relay. The long drive to Jacksonville, Oregon meant we had to leave the day before the relay and camp at the start line. You never really appreciate that last sleep in your bed the night before a relay until you are catching two interrupted hours sleeping in the back of a van.
We also ended up leapfrogging our last legs so we could make it to the finish line in time. Leapfrogging meant that we didn’t have a break between our second and third runs. We came into that finish line dragging, but also so blissfully happy and proud of ourselves.
I can say, however, that this is the most exhausted I have been – ever in my life. I think I got about four to six hours of sleep between Thursday and Sunday mornings. Was it worth it? Yes. Yes, it was.
What slowed us down, even more, was the heat on our first set of legs. It was insanely brutal. When you usually run in 60-degree coastal weather, nothing can prepare you for running in 90 degrees on a route with zero shade. We were watching the outside temp from the van – it got up to 111F while one of my van mates was running. I have no idea how she did it. It was about 95F while I was running and that was enough heat for me.
We were able to survive the heat somehow, and some of that was help from locals driving around with their kids shooting cold water at runners from super soakers. Some of it was other relay teams soaking us with water. But the best was our van meeting us halfway, dumping cold water over our heads and dumping ice in our sports bras. I don’t know if I could have made it without that relief.
Another perk of Wild Rogue is that there is no rule for drinking on the course. With Hood to Coast, you can get disqualified if you are caught drinking before the finish line. During Wild Rogue, there were plenty of runners walking around exchanges with a beer in their hand. And I have to admit, having a beer after your run is probably the best thing ever (specifically Pelican Kolsch!) During each of my legs, I was dreaming of the post-run beer, and I do think it helped me run just a little faster, despite my lack of training before the relay.
As I mentioned before, there were plenty of times you found yourself running alone. There weren’t any vans driving by you, and no other runners around. A lonely run was particularly accurate during my early morning leg. I started at about 6:30 am in a beautiful forest. It was a breathtaking run, and the temperature was perfect at 52 degrees. However, because I was alone in the wild and dense woods, I started to freak out about cougars and bears. Thank goodness the majority of this run was downhill because I was scared to death and ended up trying to get it over as quickly as possible. I even smelled this strong musky urine scent during certain times – I just knew I was going to die a horrible death. I was kicking myself for telling my van not to stop and check on me a time or two during that 6 miles.
But overall, this relay was incredible! I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves to relay. It was an energy-charged and exquisitely organized event. Not only that – most of the major exchanges had free Dutch Brothers coffee.
I must say, that was just what I needed sometimes.
If you ever get the opportunity to run Wild Rogue Relay, take it!