WanderChic Takes On Team Sports at Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Relay
It’s a falsehood to say that WanderChic is not a team player. But usually, she works alone. Earlier this month, though, she ran with a team of 11 other runners in the Cascade Lakes Relay.
That’s me, in the photo above, taking off for my first leg of the race. Teammate Marie passes me the orange slap bracelet (a fun accessory with middle-school memories, and a less fussy alternative to the relay baton). I picked up that orange Brooks hat recently at REI because I desperately needed a running hat instead of the doofy bandanas I’d been wearing for weeks. I’ve been in denial that my beloved tan hipster/military cap vanished at a music festival. The old hat was a heavy cotton, though, and this new hat is wicking mesh, so it’s really a more practical choice. Now if I could just get my hair to look slightly less mullet-ish, the hat would be perfect.
The CLR follows a gorgeous 216-mile course from Diamond Lake to Bend, Oregon. I snapped the photo below after I’d run my first seven miles. I had the rest of the afternoon to cheer on my teammates, hydrate, gasp through a bun-numbing cold shower, and attempt to nap in a field before it was time for the overnight run.
I was nervous that my poky pace would hold my team back. Our team name—We’re Not Slow, We’re Tapering—reassured me that these runners were out for fun, not glory.
CLR team names are worthy of a blog post of their own. One of my favorites was an all-women’s team called Victorious Secret. Many runners enjoy bawdy/body humor and bad puns, so you end up with giggle-worthy teams like Kiss Our Asphalt or Pardon Our Fartleks. I’m new to relay culture, but I heard that more storied relays like Hood to Coast frown upon such junior-high humor. I guess newer races like the CLR allow more room for the runner’s id.
In the photo below, several team members and I wait at the finish line for our final runner (I’m in the straw hat, far right. I’ve snuck back into some civilian clothes.) As a final runner reaches the line, the rest of the team joins them for the last 50 yards as the tirelessly cheery announcers read finish times and team and runner names.
Team Sausages and Tacos finished moments before we did. There’s something about hearing Sausages and Tacos, Sausages and Tacos repeated over loudspeakers to remove any traces of Hallmark-iness from the finish line moment. Leave it to runners to keep it real.