Submitted photo@Photo caption:Skyler Archibald, second from right, and members of his relay team.n
About three years ago, I was spending time with my family when an interesting topic came up. I have five siblings, all are married, and between the lot of us there are 13 grandchildren for my parents to enjoy. It’s a large group and it often proves difficult getting us all together.
One of my siblings mentioned that they had always wanted to participate in the “Hood to Coast” run, the annual relay that begins at Timberline Lodge, winds through the scenic byways of northwest Oregon and finishes on the sandy beach, here in Seaside.
After some deliberation and research, we submitted a team entry to participate. We were fortunate to be selected, or so we thought, because after our selection the reality of what lay in front of us set in. There was lots of training to do! Our team that year featured nine members of my family and three lucky friends. We had a great time despite the hurricane-like conditions that befell the runners over the course of the weekend.
We took 2016 off, regrouped and all that, and were selected to participate again in 2017. This time, filled with knowledge from the previous experience many of us took our training and preparation more thoroughly and serious. This time we filled the two vans with 10 family members and two “friends of the family.”
The conditions throughout the weekend were perfect. Many of us, despite not being natural runners in any way, ran faster than expected and had a great experience in what is truly a unique event. In between the three assigned “legs” (runs) that each team member endured, you also get plenty of time driving the route. Our team finished the course in 32 hours and 13 minutes and when we weren’t running, we were enjoying many laughs (and smells) in the friendly confines of a mini-van.
My favorite moments were spending time with two of my sisters and their husbands and laughing at jokes, misfortune and wallowing in exhaustion together. Besides that, I had dedicated myself to a more diligent training schedule this year and it was wonderful to perform a bit better. This year, I’m not quite as sore as I was in 2015!
On my second leg which began around 3 a.m. and took place on Apiary Road near Camp Wilkerson in Columbia County, I had the overwhelming experience of running in a truly beautiful setting. The windy country road was void of vehicles (except the other vans in the race) and the dark, crisp and clear night made for near-perfect conditions. Several times, I turned off my flashlight and just enjoyed the shadow of the trees and the beautiful stars as I lumbered through the 6.7-mile leg.
I know there are many challenges that the communities that host this event deal with, including Seaside. The traffic is abhorrent and defies one of the main reasons that many residents enjoy the North Coast. The behavior of some runners and teams is less than wonderful, although the majority of those that I saw act as appropriate or more appropriate than the guests of Seaside for other events throughout the year.
Despite all these challenges the event makes a huge difference for our community, bringing revenue, partnerships and exposure that are much needed. Perhaps more importantly though, at least for this one participant, is that I’m a healthier and happier individual because of my participation in Hood to Coast.
When we encourage people to recreate and be active, we’re making the world better and Seaside, through it’s participation in Hood to Coast does that! Without the actual event to look forward to, my training would have lacked significant motivation and I would have also missed out on a wonderful and bonding family experience. Surely my experience isn’t unique in that regard.
When we made our last exchange at the top of Lewis & Clark Road there was no greater feeling than knowing that we had completed the 198-mile course and as we headed to the finish line on what was one of the most beautiful days this summer my heart was full of gratitude for the experience and for this wonderful community!
Skyler Archibald is the Executive Director of the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District.