Cascade Lakes Relay

CLR logo-small

You may be getting the impression I’m a runner. Let me put that thought to rest right now. While I sign up for what most would think of as “intense” or “unique” organized running events, 95% of the time, I am not wearing my running shoes. AKA I suck at training (see Fueled by Fine Wine post…).

After running a grueling 13.1 race, mentally I started to prepare myself for the next insane thing I signed up for: Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR). Somehow I finagled myself onto a team with friends months ago – and I have to say, I am extremely happy that I did. I must have also had a bit of a mental block because I was preparing myself to have at least four weeks to pick up my running again. NOPE. Little did I realize CLR was just a mere two weeks away. Ha. Guess I wasn’t going to be doing much training!

Cascade Lakes Relay is the increasingly popular relay race to the shit-fest-that-is- Hood to Coast (200 teams at CLR compared to 10,50 teams for H2C). I know Hood to Coast is a cult-classic in Oregon and that it is FUN. In fact, perhaps a little bit too fun. I had the experience of being a driver for a H2C team a few years back – and the traffic, timing and stress levels all ran high. The popularity of the race is it’s own demise and the sheer amount of runners and vans on the road make for a 200+ mile traffic jam.

Then there’s CLR. It’s a bit more unknown and a bit more challenging due to the elevation and high-desert temperatures. They also have a reasonable cap on team entries (hence, it’s not a cluster like H2C), and you can still done your own headset for tunes (something that was banned at H2C due to injuries). The race itself winds its way from Diamond lake (just north of Crater Lake) to the town of Bend, Oregon – 216 miles and change. It runs throughout the night, so van alternate and catch some sleep when they can.

CLR elevation

We decided early on to split the 12 runners into a boys van and a girls van. Boys = big, stinky and angry music. Girls = small(er), better smelling and pop music galore.  The boys were in Van 1 and had the glory of starting first and finishing first. Their legs were long straightaways typically in the cooler parts of the day. We assume they had a good time due to their air guitar enthusiasm.

The gals were in Van 2 and experiences more elevation gain at hotter parts of the day but overall shorter distances. We decorated our van with window paint, stacked up on pretzels, Nutella and Gatorades, and overplayed Cyrus, XXX and YYY. We rolled our muscles before and after runs, used a ton of baby wipes to stay refreshed, and constantly brought the party to every stop we made. We bonded over lack of sleep, stops to the porta-potties and celebrated with a SHSHSH beer after our final runs.  If there were an award for best sportsmanship, we’d have taken gold. Our van was out shaking our booties to beat-thumping songs and waving cowbells at anyone we saw.


Most of the vans sped through the course rather quietly. A few oddballs had speakers mounted on their vans, participated in shouting out encouragement to other runners (much appreciated when I was tackling my hardest leg!), and decorated their vans with fun sayings – but definitely not the party bus line-up that you would get with H2C.

Probably the biggest pro to CLR is never experiencing a van backup or parking issue. And if there more than 5 other runners within eyesight, it was considered “busy”. The ease of van logistics makes CLR amazing. Even sleeping locations sported an all-night pancake and coffee cart and warm showers. While we were all too tired to hang around very long for the after party, the ease of parking and short beer lines were much appreciated.

When finished, we all ran through the finish together and shortly after headed back to our Sunriver rental to eat, drink and groggily-celebrate our way through the night (aka passed out by 10pm). By the time we packed up the house the next morning and people departed, it honestly felt like the end of summer camp – I was sad to see people go and admit the festivities of the weekend were over.

Needless to say, we’re all pretty amped for 2014 😉


One thought on “Cascade Lakes Relay

  1. Sounds so great! I second your feelings on H2C and have pretty foul memories of being stuck in the line up of cars at a dead stop on 26 heading back into town, for, what I’m almost certain, was EVER. Or at least felt like it to me who never wanted a shower, a beer and a burger more in her whole life. Hand is officially raised if you need team members for next year! I can bring more cowbell 🙂

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