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September 1, 2018

Full Moon, Full Send: Brooklyn Track Club Kills from Hood To Coast

From NYC to PDX. They were not here to stand in two-hour long lines for donuts or take selfies in front very pretty waterfalls along the Gorge. They were here simply to run, run, run and kill, kill, kill from Hood to Coast. Take no prisoners. …And like a true “Lost Boy”, jump off the bridge and fly.

The Brooklyn Track Club raced the Hood To Coast Relay last weekend. 199 miles of beautiful and hilly Oregon terrain. Chris Chavez and coach Steve Finley invited me along to ride shotgun, shoot some photos and be a part of the fun.

I lived on Mount Hood for three summers from 2014 to 2016 in three separate houses that are within the first half mile of the 2nd exchange. Many days, I got in my morning runs on the trails or do the crazy and run up to Timberline Lodge and back down. It is about 2,000 feet vert up and down over six miles each way. Oregon feels like another home to me and to see it with a different lens and with some friends was a treat.

A little over a year ago, I ran a mellow six to eight mile run with Brooklyn Track Club during a trip to New York while I shooting an interview for Year of the Bison. I wished the club existed in Los Angeles or something like it. I don’t know of too many running clubs like them in the U.S.  They love running more than anyone and it definitely shows.

Through the day and night, I bounced around from Van 1 and 2 with Finley, who serves as the head coach of the team and our self-appointed  “Digital Team.” Steve’s dry-witted sense of humor and his comedic responses kept even the most tense moments loose. Steve is certainly a leader who represents the spirit of the Brooklyn Track Club – serious runners who aren’t afraid to get a little untamed. Plus, just like me, Steve is from Illinois and so you know he’s “the salt of the earth” guy.

Below is a bit of photo journal and a reflection of the trip from a perspective of riding shotgun in each vans with a series of the photos that best represent the story of this weekend.

To enhance your reading experience, please read the following as Andrea Bocelli’s Con Te Partiro plays on repeat.

Mount Hood. Isn’t she glorious?! I have done this drive more than a hundred times and it never gets old. I still get chills looking at the peak.

Not decorating your van for Hood to Coast is very much like showing up to comic con not in costume. You just don’t do it.

So…naturally we had to.

A portrait of the Van 1 group on top of “Shelby Houlivan”  before they descend 6,000 vertical feet. Despite the crew scaling up the van in seconds, it took 10 minutes of discussion on how to scale down the side of the van.  Thank god this race didn’t start at the Pearly Gates at 11,250 feet.

With a start time of 1:30, BTC was one of the last waves to get the race underway. Leaving the hunters to be hunted. Chris Chavez’s mantra of #TheLegsarefeelinGood carried him through the first 5.7 miles at PR pace.

Leigh Anne Sharek heard the rumbling of Shelby Houlivan as we pounded on the side of the van and shouted her name out the window. Leigh Anne hands off to Marta Fenollosa as she heads on the trail away from the highway for her portion.

Cara Janeczko with her tongue out and demoralizing every runner she passes along Highway 26. She has one of the finest laughs of the five boroughs. There was an inside joke about a baby deer named “Elkerton”and she lost her mind.

Marta occupies the Normatec after her leg. The team shared one Normatec between the two vans. Everyone tried to claim dibs in an attempt to make the legs feel good.

The Lost Boy, Tim Rossi, has been racing for years. He’s never lost speed, never lost endurance and never grown old. Inquiring minds want to know, what’s his secret?

Everyone saw our van had “Brooklyn” written all over it. When we pulled in to meet up with Van 2, these party animals blasted “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys.

Former Citius MAG writer Paul Snyder was the designated driver for Van 2. Before Roger Vannister took off for the second part of the relay, he hopped on a local track and ran his annual sub-five minute mile. A strong man ready to drive 20 hours on tired legs.

Steve directs Paul to the next exchange zone. All van drivers at Hood to Coast know that you can’t rely on Google Maps, but instead have to rely on the atlas given by the meet directors.

Do not be fooled by Jeanne Mack’s smile as she hammers gracefully for each of her respective legs of the race. Many consider her to be the Juana “The Old Lady Killer” Barraza of Hood To Coast. She pulled off 96 kills on just one leg of the relay. GEEZ LOUISE!

Walter Rodriguez and his perfect haircut chalk up some kills on the side of Roger Vannister. If we had more space, we’d print full obituaries.

Cara Enright waits on Mit Patel at the exchange before she races into the night. Alien and Predator pictured below.

I am a guy who lives in LA and so the sight of this traffic is pretty usual for 30 miles of the race’s portion.

Almost to the finish, driving down the 101, we said so long to Astoria. If you are reading this in a timely fashion, this is where Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro” escalates as the snare drums tap lightly in the background. Never say die.

It’s their time. Cara closes out the race with everyone on the squad running, a term used loosely for the pace at this point, the last 100 meters.

Brooklyn’s Finest: 13th overall, 3rd in the corporate “men’s” division in just over 21 hours. The engine is still running hot.

With legs feeling sore, The ice cold water of the Pacific Ocean was calling them.

The van ride back was quiet. Everyone was tired. I drifted to sleep just minutes into the ride back to Portland. I woke up and an hour later and caught myself drooling. Maybe only a few people in the van saw this moment. Hood to Coast was the ultimate party that didn’t cause you a hangover (well for some) just sore legs and a desire to sleep. If anyone is considering putting together a team for Hood to Coast or any long distance relay trip with some close friends, I highly recommend it.

Being around the Brooklyn Track Club for the weekend, I haven’t felt team spirit and bonding like that since running in college…And I didn’t even run the damn thing.

This is RJ McNichols from the “Digital Team” with your Hood To Coast Report. Over and Out.

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