|Van 1 at 4:30 a.m.|
One of the assignments for my Haiti trip is to take two names of God, research them, and write a twenty-minute devotional talk. I’ve spent the past several weeks studying “Light of the World” so it didn’t surprise me when Jesus revealed Himself as Light of the World all over the Hood to Coast course.
My Hood to Coast team drew a 6:30 a.m. start time and our van driver lives an hour from the start of the race. When she disclosed this we invited ourselves over for a team sleepover. We loaded the van on race morning in thick darkness. As we posed for our first team picture, we all felt raindrops. Rain wasn’t in the forecast for the weekend, but within minutes it was pelting the windshield in full force. Thunder rumbled and frequent flashes of lightening lit up the sky in the direction we were heading. The emergency warning system interrupted the radio station we were listening to and the automated voice on the other end warned of “severe weather, thunder, lightening, heavy rain and possible funnel clouds. If you are outside, please take cover in a building away from windows. This is a very dangerous storm.”
We drove above the storm and arrived at Timberline Lodge in the warm, peaceful afterglow of the storm. It was still dark and runners stayed within the confines of the floodlights that bordered the vendor tents and porta-potties. I knew from past experience that Mt. Hood was so close you could reach out and touch it, but the darkness was too penetrating to actually see it.
|at the epic start|
|the sky was on fire|
|starting Leg 2 in the late |
My reflective vest was eighteen sizes too big and the weight of the flashers made it flop all over. I spent the entire seven miles actively drowning in my vest and constantly adjusting it. It was too light outside to discern if my flashers were working. I accidentally put my headlight on upside down, pointing the beam of light toward the sky instead of toward the pavement. My thoughts alternated between, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength – I thought this was supposed to be easy” and “It sure is a good thing I don’t actually need my lighting gear because I’m certain none of it is working properly.”
|Ally with her reflective gear, in|
the evening sunlight
Darkness is dangerous. Objects in plain view during the day become obstacles in the dark. Multiple times I almost ran smack dab into mailboxes on the sidewalk, not noticing them until the last second. I stayed far away from the edge of the road and any possible ditches looming in the darkness, and I had to slow my gait to step carefully off the abnormally elevated sidewalk. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the lights and activity of the transition area flooded my vision and I successfully handed the baton to Carissa.
|Carissa waiting for me to finish my second run|
I had been dreading my third leg from the first time I saw the elevation chart. It consisted of a three and a half mile climb to the summit of a coastal mountain and then an additional three-mile descent down the other side. My estimated start time was somewhere around o’dark thirty. The fact that more than one person warned me to “be careful – a lot of people fall at the exchange” added to my apprehension.
Traffic approaching the exchange areas began backing up the closer we got to the ocean. Our team stopped lollygagging at the exchange points and instead dropped off our new runner, picked up our sweaty runner, and dashed back to the van. We got Amy out on the course and headed to the exchange area where she would hand off to me. A mile before the exchange our van was stopped dead in traffic. A steady stream of runners ran past the line of parked cars and my palms started sweating as I donned my gear and watched for Amy in the rearview mirror. When she appeared I jumped out of the van and trailed her for a mile to the exchange area where she tagged off to me and I officially started my leg. (We call those “bonus miles” and it was just what I didn’t want heading into my last leg.)
|Carissa and I in the middle of the night - waiting to run our third leg.|
Our entire team ran together through the sand to the finish line on the beach around lunch time on Saturday - more than thirty hours after we started. The sun warmed our shoulders and the backs of our necks as we posed for pictures and celebrated our huge accomplishment.
|our entire team at the beach in the brilliant sun|