Hood To Coast Relay a ‘rigorous’ journey

At least three teams with Butte runners competed in the 31st Hood To Coast Relay in Oregon.

One team consisted of Ashley, Matt and Clint Choquette along with Josh Panausk, Lance Oswald, Ozzie Rosenleaf, Zach Essler, Michelle Bazzanella, Stephanie Kirkpatrick, Cheri Simon, Michelle Huntsman and Erin Ellmaker.

Eddi Walker, Pat Durkin, Randee Farrow, Joe Griffin, Sherry Vogel, Fred Jozovich, Dave Mueller, Pamela Hanson Deichel, Vivian Akey, Melissa O’Dell, Don Sundberg and Mike Patterson made up one team, while Butte native Christine (Tutty) Johnson ran with a team that included Jamie McGarvey, Patty Murphy, Deirdre Flaherty, Spring Mills, Wisdom and Miranda Ming, Barbara Hietala, Coreen Johnson, Ramey Kodadek, Whitney Schwab and Sally Cannata.

Following is one runner’s account of the 200-mile race:

Butte Hoodies vanquish ‘road kill’

By Ashley Choquette

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves … The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. The human spirit is indomitable.”
— Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile


Last weekend, 11 of my running comrades, Matt Choquette, Clint Choquette, Josh Panasuk, Stephanie Kirkpatrick, Michele Bazzanella, Michele Hunstman, Ozzie Rosenleaf, Lance Oswald, Erin Ellmaker, Cheri Simon, Zach Essler and I set out on an epic journey of conquering one of the world’s longest road races, Hood to Coast.

This relay starts at Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon, and ends at Seaside, a town that lies on the coast.

The race is approximately 200 miles long (this year, it was 202 due to a last minute course rerouting). The course consists of 36 exchange zones, so each runner runs three legs in rotation. Each leg varies in lengths of 3.4 miles to 8.8 miles.

This race is so unique and unnatural. You literally put yourself through a rigorous physical journey by staying awake for at least thirty-six hours straight, and giving it all you have when it’s your turn to run. This, in my opinion, is pure tranquility.

This year, 1,068 teams entered, and all varied in ability levels. There were elites, veterans, and some competed just to test their personal abilities or to overcome struggles. Our team, the Butte Hoodies, ran simply for pure pleasure, and of course, to compete. Our goal as a team was to finish in 2 4hours and to vanquish “road kill” along the way.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “what is road kill?” It’s what relay teams call people they pass during a race. Michele “Mazz” Bazzanella was the queen of road kill, passing over fifty runners.  We ended up catching 183 people, which is pretty darn good considering we were the last group to start on Saturday night. We finished in 23 hours, and 28 minutes, which placed us ninth in our division and 50th overall.

Hood to Coast was definitely a learning experience for our team. Many of us were unsure on how to prepare properly for racing three different times in under 24 hours. We assumed that our ability to increase our mileage would suffice. Well, the phrase Charlie Merrifield use to reiterate to me about assuming, finally hit home last weekend.

In my opinion, this race was harder than a marathon. With the logistics having to be so precise, there was no time to rest and recuperate. After the first half of our team completed the first stage, we needed to refuel the van, refill our water jugs, eat and hydrate, and get to our major exchange zone area as soon as possible before the start of our next stage.

With all that said, it is purely the runners high, your sanguine mentality, strength in your feet, and courage in your lungs that carry you from Stage 1 through Stage 3. By the time you hit your final leg, your sleep deprivation starts to kick in, the energy stored in your body depletes, and you begin to experience fatigued muscles.

My last leg topologically was my easiest and most scenic being that my first two legs were in the dark, but it was definitely my hardest. Before I started, I was experiencing the runner’s wobbly legs, and major fatigue. I kept telling myself that it’s only four miles, I have to hit my target pace no matter what, and that it’s my last leg and must give it all I have left. After that, my adrenaline kicked in and my wobbly legs became stronger.

For any runner, Hood to Coast is something you have to experience. For me, it was one of the most implausible experiences of my life so far. It taught me to challenge myself, and that I can push my body and mind to a whole new level and be okay.

On top of all that, I was able to share this experience with amazing people. You can’t ask for anything better.

Aristotle claimed that there were two great pleasures in life, thinking and sex. Well, Aristotle clearly was not a runner.