Last weekend I travelled down to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon to crew my friends Brie, Chris, and Kyle who were all running the Gorge Waterfalls 100k trail race from Rainshadow Running. Brie’s husband Jesse also came down to help.
We all met in White Rock and loaded up the Tesla full of our gear and ourselves and headed out. The ride down involved many snack stops, Tesla charging stations, and more food stops but was a lot of fun regardless of being crammed like sardines in one car!
We made it to our hotel in Troutdale, OR, and headed to find a late dinner. We found McMinamen’s Pub and ran into many other racers and event pizza- makers to socialize with before crashing back into bed.
We spent the friday touring around Portland, picking up last minute race must- haves, grocery shopping, lunching, and specialty donut shop (VOODOO) drooling. This took up our entire day but it was a lot of fun. Love this group of friends!
I took everyone’s orders for their race needs (in detail- KYLE) while the runners packed and then we hit the sack in anticipation of our 4am wake- up….
….Which came way too soon! Surprisingly we were all awake and ready to go in time for bib pick up, drop bag organization, and pre- race meetings.
Before we knew it, the race had begun and then it was up to Jesse and I to navigate the Tesla around to the various stops on the course to crew our runners. But first….COFFEE!!!!! Starbucks princess points for the two of us- because the gas station coffee would not do!
We headed to the first aid station we were allowed to crew at- Yeon- which was literally on the side of the highway, where runners ran up a long paved hill to hit the aid station before turning sharply and heading up the steep hilly trail. Jesse and I were barely set up before Kyle came flying towards us! He was moving quick! We got him all sorted and sent him on his way. He was followed by Brie and Chris about 20 minutes later and they ate some Doritos and kept going.
Cascade Locks was the next stop for our rolling runner- aid mobile. This was a super fun aid station- nicknamed the Grateful Dead station for the volunteers’ awesome costumes and music choices! We had a lot of fun here. All of our runners were looking super strong at this point, so it was all about quick fluid refills, some food, and they were off again.
Wyeth aid station marked the 50k mark, as well as the turn around point. I like to refer to it as the “go big or go home” point of the course, as it was so tempting for runners to call it a day at this point. Having the strength to hit this point and turn around to go all the way back requires huge mental determination! I am proud to say all of our friends didn’t hesitate in turning tail and heading back with awesome attitudes! Way to go guys! So proud of you all! We saw a lot of people drop at this point!
After Kyle, Brie, and Chris had all left Wyeth, we became the pack- donkeys of all their gear! We decided to bring all their gear bags to each station afterwards in case they needed anything else they hadn’t thought of. I must have looked ridiculous with about 8 bags hanging off me!
Cascade Locks is where we saw them next, but while we were waiting for our runners, a random runner mistook me for an aid station volunteer, and absconded my chair! He then began barking orders right left and centre to me about what I should get him and what he needed. I just went with it thinking this would be a funny story later. He ended up demanding pickle juice from another volunteer and then drank the juice from the bowl of pickles everyone had been sticking their hands in all day! I was beginning to think I had lost my chair forever, but then he got up and left, leaving all his garbage in my chair! We nicknamed him “chair- stealing pickle- juicer”!
We got Kyle through the station but he was having fuelling difficulties due to an upset stomach. We hoped it would settle down as he was not keeping much down and he needed to get calories in to finish! Brie and Chris came through looking strong (albeit tired) with minimal issues- they were about 20 minutes ahead of cut off so I gave them some quick fuel and then lovingly kicked them in the butt to get going again.
Our last access point was Yeon again and poor Kyle was hurting. We were desperate to get food in him, but he was vomiting almost everything- until we got some plain bread, some chips and a gingerale! That did the trick and we got him on the road again. Brie and Chris came in about 15 minutes ahead of cut- off so we rushed to get them fuelled and back out again quickly to save time for the final 21 km!
From that point it was nervously awaiting them all at the finish line. I had so much anxiety and excitement inside me for this 2-3 hour period. We knew it would be close for them finishing under the 17 hour mark and just couldn’t wait to give them big hugs and stuff pizza in their faces!
Kyle came in first, about a half hour under the 17 hour mark. He was very relieved to be done, sit down, and get into some comfy clothes. So proud of him! He fought through so much to finish with barely any calories in him- it was an incredible feat of determination and guts!
From that point on it was dark and we were watching the clock counting down the time to finish! Chris and Brie were cutting it close, and every headlamp I saw- I shouted “hurry your butts- you have … minutes to make it before cut off!” Each time I saw it wasn’t them, I became more worried and anxious- were they ok? did they need help? Finally, about 10 minutes after the 17 hour mark, I saw two headlamps running together. I yelled out “Chris, Brie- is that you?” To which I heard a reply “Yes!” That’s when I lost my voice and ran as hard as I could in my slippers to run them in to the finish. I was so proud of them and they finished their goal of 100k, regardless of the “official” time cut off of 17 hours. They rocked it! We found out Chris had suffered a terrible nosebleed and had to stop for about 15 minutes to get it under control. They definitely would have finished within the time cut off had it not been for this.
Afterwards there was pizza, there were donuts, and so many hugs! I will never forget how amazing it was to watch my friends take on this huge beast of a challenge and I am so unbelievably proud of what they accomplished!