Bucknell Alumni Place 5th Overall
Seaside, OR. - In 1995, Bucknell entered their first alumni team and quickly became a presence with a third-place finish in their inaugural attempt. Three years later, they were kings of the 'hood, in a year when five-time defending champion Nike opted not to enter a team in the elite men's division. In 2001, Bucknell fielded their finest team, finishing the 195 mile event in 16 hours 47 minutes (5:10 pace) edging out the Princeton Running Co. in a dogfight that came down to the final last two legs. The victory was dedicated to the memory of Art Gulden, the patriarch of the Bucknell track and cross-country programs, who launched the program in 1970 and remained its coach until complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in May 2001.
The Hood to Coast Relay, a 195 mile, 12 runner-per-team event in Oregon similar to Reach the Beach, runs through northwest Oregon, from a 6,000-foot elevation on Mount Hood to the coastal resort town of Seaside. One thousand teams, each consisting of 12 members who run three legs apiece in rotation, made the overnight Friday-Saturday trek, elite teams went off at 7pm.
Everyone on the team was bringing their A game to Oregon, from 32 year old team captain Dave Granger (ten time relay member) to recent Bucknell alumni grads Wallace Campbell and Matt Forys. Leading up to the race, one of our studs Greg Costello (marathon trials 2:20 guy) started working for Nike and was required to run for the Nike Elite team, which consists of former Olympians and all-Americans, including Sean Duffy (former American U guy). Fuel to the fire my friends, fuel to the fire.
Our lead off man bolted down the mountain, handing off with the lead pack. We later found out Nike was 3 minutes down, their first leg bought a new pair of shoes the night before and made mince meat of his heels, moleskin and duct tape used in the 2nd and 3rd legs to keep his badly blistered and bloody feet in one piece. Rule #1: Never try something new on race day.
At the 3rd-to-4th leg exchange, Team Bucknell was in front, Evan Honeyfield putting in some serious work on the rest of the teams. After the 4th leg, we were in second place, about five seconds back of the Brooks team, coming up on a monster leg. Jesse Graytock (2:31 guy at Boston this year, running alongside PReaves) had a tough task at hand, Nike had a 2:13 marathoner they flew in from Germany. By the time my first leg came around, Nike and Brooks were pulling away, with Bucknell in a battle with two local teams (Team XO - "ex-Oregon" and Team Portland), but we suspect mercenaries and not genuine alumni teams.
It's now midnight, I'm outside the van waiting for 7th leg Sean McCarthy to roll in, getting updates on expected hand off time. Team XO rolls by, about 40 seconds later Team Portland, then I spot my teammate. Game on. Grab the wrist bracelet baton and was off into the darkness.
First leg was 4.55 miles, slightly downhill with some rollers at the end. All you see are reflective vests from other teams, paving the way toward team XO and Portland. Three miles in, finally pulled up behind Portland and slowly picked up the pace to see what we had in the tank. I hand off to Marcus Jones, we're now in 4th between XO and Portland. 5:15 pace for my first leg, all on adrenaline.
About an hour after my race, I'm thinking there's no way I can do that again in a few hours. Then I see everyone else around me, legs 1 through 6, all van 1 guys, post phenomenal times for their second run. Amazing.
After snacking on PB&Js, coke and pretzels, it was go time. My second leg was a beater, 5.75 miles with two climbs, the first one 500ft over 2 miles, the second 400ft over 2 miles, with a downhill between climbs and into transition. 5:48 mile pace later, we were within 2 minutes of team Portland, Nike and Brooks out ahead, Team XO pulling away.
No way I can do that again.
More PB&Js, pretzels and lots of coke later, time for my final leg, now in a heated battle with Team Portland. Time for tiredness to be replaced with adrenaline. Soon after team Portland goes by, I get the handoff and bust it. I'm making no progress on this guy, finally hit a slight uphill at mile 2 and slowly reel him in. Check his vital signs, the guy is hurting BAD, time to make a move. Final surge towards the transition I sprint it in. 4.1 miles at 5:15 pace later, we're ahead of team Portland.
The body is capable of doing amazing things on little sleep.
We ended up 5th overall, with the Nike Elite team on top, followed by Brooks, Team XO and Team Portland. 17 hours, 45 minutes, 5:24 pace for Bucknell. It would have been awesome to beat Portland, something to look forward to for next year.