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Cascade Lakes Relay 2010: Part 1 - Geek Turned Athlete

Cascade Lakes Relay 2010: Part 1


This weekend was crazy!!! I had never participated in a relay race like this before, and I had so much fun!

The Cascade Lakes Relay was a 216.6 mile race run by a 12 person team. Each team was split up into two vans (6 people each). Each van had 3 sections of the race to complete totaling 6 sections for the team. Each person runs anywhere from approximately 18 to 22 miles over the two day period. The miles are split up in the 3 different sections that each van must complete. You essentially get a 3-5 hour break (depending on how fast your team is) between sections while the other van completes their legs. During the breaks, you are driving to the next section starting point (which takes forever), finding food, sleeping, and if you are lucky, showering. My van happened to get an hour and a half of sleep during the two day period. Needless to say, loopiness was abundant. The elevation ranged between 4200 to 4700 feet above sea level.

Some team members and I had driven from Spokane, Wa to LaPine, Oregon on Thursday. It was about a 7 hour trip. Some friends of some friends had a cabin there, and the whole 12 member team was sprawled out all over the place to save money. I knew a couple of the people in van 2, but since I was subbing for a girl that dropped out, I knew no one in the van where I would be spending the next 36 hours of my life. Thank goodness they all ended up being wonderfully supportive teammates.

The race started on Friday at 8am, but Van 1 (my van) had to be up by 5am to leave by 5:30am to get to the start point on time. We got to the starting line, and every walk of life seemed to be doing this relay. Moms, the old, the young, sorority girls, families, hardcore runners, the big, the small, people who had lost a lot of weight, goth peeps, women in tutus, hippies, etc. I started to feel a little quesy around 8am, but I thought it was nerves. I didn’t think anything of it and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee while watching the teams leave at different times. There was a staggered time start for the teams since there were so many with varying abilities. It was still really cold this early in the morning (which ended up heating up quite a bit in the afternoon).


We wished our first teammate off, and this is when the stomach problems began. I ended visiting the porta potty 5 times before my leg started.

Some views of the start of the 2nd leg…



Our first section (Van 1) consisted of (course ratings are according to race guide):

  • Leg 1: 8.5 miles, HARD
  • Leg 2: 10.4 miles, VERY HARD
  • Leg 3: 7.5 miles, MODERATE
  • Leg 4: 7.1 miles, MODERATE
  • Leg 5: 8.7 miles, HARD
  • Leg 6: 5.4 miles, EASY

1st Run: 7.1 miles, labeled as a moderate difficulty, dirt road, 87 degrees F., average pace: 9:24 min/pace


Since I was the 4th leg, my run started around noon. As soon as the 3rd runner on our team was done with his run, he handed the bright orange slappy bracelet off to me, and I was off. I felt weak, shakey, and nauseous. At first I thought it was the coffee that made me extra “regular,” that morning, but then I started my leg and was not feeling so good.


The “dirt road” was more like a sandy beach, and within the first mile my legs were exhausted. My whole body was consumed by the chills. I didn’t seem to be sweating at all even though I was in the direct sunlight with no shade the entire time. I’m a sweaty beast normally, so this was weird. It was hot. My mouth was so dry the entire time, and I could see dust devils out in the distance. I was so uncomfortable, and all I wanted to do was walk. A bald guy with long shorts past his knees passed me about 2 miles in.

Great. A nonrunner in nonrunning shorts passed me. That is how slow I’m going. Keep him in your sights.

Oh, and did I mention that this was unaccompanied? During most of the legs, the van got to drive past you and cheer you on, give you water, etc. This was one of the two legs out of 36 that was unaccompanied. No team encouragement here until the trade off.


I pushed through the 7.1 miles and immediately ran to the porta potty upon passing my orange bracelet off to my next team member. I was covered in a thin layer of dust and sand.



The chills continued for the next hour or so.



I chugged water like crazy up until our next break.

We tried to take a nap, but the heat, sun, and noise kept us up. The area that we pulled into reminded me of some hippie village made up of a ton of vans and people.





Once we got the call from the other van on our team that they were on their last runner, we headed to the next van exchange point.


The mosquitos were relentless. They swarmed everyone without bug spray, and although I’m usually the only one to be attacked by 20, they chose to attack one of my other teammates and left my blood alone except for 2 bites. The only place where I missed bug spray was behind the ear. Sneaky little bastards.


It was around 9:30pm when we started our 2nd section.  Little did I know, I was about to have my best run during the relay…

To be continued

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Julie @SavvyEats August 2, 2010, 5:29 pm

    Wow, that is a CRAZY race schedule! I think it is the kind of thing I would sign up for because it sounded fun (if I was a runner, that is) and then wonder what on earth I was thinking when I got there. 😉 So proud of you for getting through it, though the chills sound no good!

  • Erica August 2, 2010, 5:30 pm

    What an experience! I would LOVE to do a race like that. I bet the team spirit is just amazing. And it is TOTALLY beautiful there. ….but I do hate mosquitoes!

  • Sana August 2, 2010, 5:44 pm

    That sounds like an epic, crazyy and AWESOME raceee!
    Did you eat anything with the coffee? I get sick to my stomach when I have coffee on an empty stomach.

    • Nicole August 4, 2010, 1:02 pm

      I did have a larabar. I think it was food poisoning or a 24 hour bug or something like that.

  • Matt August 2, 2010, 6:44 pm

    Sounds like a great race so far!

  • tanyasDailyProductReviews August 2, 2010, 7:02 pm

    what a beautiful place to run

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape August 2, 2010, 8:35 pm

    This race sounds crazy!!! Good job on tackling it 😀 And those mosquitos look NASTY. lol

  • Marisa August 3, 2010, 12:18 am

    I can’t believe you haven’t even been in the states for a 2 months and you’re already doing races! YOU GO GIRL!! you are awesome to keep running even after feeling like poop. Can’t wait for the next part 🙂

    • Nicole August 4, 2010, 1:03 pm

      Thanks, chica!! I hope you are doing well!

  • Katy @ MonsterProof August 3, 2010, 6:56 am

    I’ve always thought these sounded like fun! Can’t wait to hear about the rest.

  • Kacy August 3, 2010, 7:16 am

    So sorry about your stomach issues! But it sounds like such a cool event! You rock for hanging in there!

  • Lisa August 3, 2010, 9:33 am

    Thanks for the recap!!! I would love suggestions and tips. I’m training for the Hood to Coast Relay at the end of this month. It’s my first relay race.

    • Nicole August 4, 2010, 1:04 pm

      That is a great idea! I’m doing the Spokane to Sandpoint relay in about a week in a half. I think by then, I will be able to do a how to post! Good luck training!

  • Lisa @ My High-Carb Lifestyle August 3, 2010, 3:50 pm

    That sucks that you had to start out feeling lousy, but way to hang in there! The scenery and weather look amazing. I’m glad to hear that your next run was better, can’t wait to hear more!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) August 3, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Oh no – sorry to hear that you were feeling a little off during your first run…..I haev had that feeling before and it is not fun! Hope it improved for your second run!!!

  • adrienmelaine August 8, 2010, 7:24 am

    These photos are awesome!
    There’s a couple from my run club that entered a team in this and I was dying to see what it was all about- looks like I could be there next year!


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