Space was tight in the white 15-passenger van.
In the front was our fearless driver, Jeff, who happened to be the only male in the vehicle. There was Zoe, our team captain and map-keeper.
The remaining three rows were occupied by Jesica, Holly, Holly, Karen and me – and the required gear to survive 28 hours, 45 minutes (and 31 seconds) in a van.
Along with six runners in a separate van, we were Team Lemonade, tackling the Hood to Coast Relay. The 195-mile race takes runners from Mount Hood, Oregon, to Seaside, Oregon, every August.
After you are on the road, there’s no turning back, so mindful packing is essential.
Clothing. Running three legs requires three changes of clothes. Store each outfit in a gallon-size plastic bag for easy access. After finishing a leg, store the sweaty clothes in the bag to minimize the stink.
Shoes. Running experts advise to rotate shoes, not wearing the same pair in a same 24-hour period. It’s feasible to bring three pairs of shoes on a relay but an extra set will be prudent, especially if the course is rainy or muddy.
Fuel. Real meals are hard to come by during a relay, maybe just once during the entire time. Pack a cooler with assorted snacks – sweet and salty – as well as some heartier fare. Our team enjoyed pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, jerky and non-mayo pasta salad, along with Red Vines and peanut butter-filled pretzels. If it fits, a water cooler is helpful. Put it in the back of the van and runners can refill at exchanges.
Sleep. Rest is a must though actual shut-eye is limited. Bring a travel pillow and blanket, at the least, for napping in the van. There are usually spots to camp at major exchanges and some runners choose to sleep outside in sleeping bags. If the van can accommodate bags, bring them.
Hygiene. There’s no way around it – the van will stink, and so will you after running a relay. Keep the smell to a minimum with baby or athletic wipes, disposable toothbrushes, deodorant and powder.
Odds and ends. Sports stick, such as Body Glide, or petroleum jelly is good to have on hand for chafing; sunblock is essential, especially for afternoon legs; and car chargers for phones and electronics. Coordinate with team members so everything is covered but there aren’t six coolers vying for space.