Hood to Coast: When Less (Sleep) Is More

by Corey Squire

The Bora team, Mies Van Der Run, was back in action for the 41st running of Hood to Coast, a 200-mile, 12-person relay that traverses the Western Oregon landscape from the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean at Seaside. The premise is simple: one team member is always running, while eleven more, divided between two vans, manage the practicalities of food, sleep, and transportation to keep the whole team moving forward. But, between these two points, challenges abound, including flash thunderstorms, oppressive heat, smoke, darkness, traffic, faulty headlamps, and mis-set alarm clocks. Through it all, the team persevered, overcoming physical, mental, and logistical hurdles to complete the course in 30 hours, 43 minutes.  

So why, one might ask, would anyone attempt something so obviously crazy? Despite the wisdom of our team’s namesake, it turns out that less is not always more. Sometimes more and more and more is more. The magic of Hood to Coast is that the event is so fundamentally different from everyday life as to shift perspectives and rethink everyday norms. On any other day, we fit our lives within a normal diurnal sleep cycle. But at Hood to Coast, sleep fits randomly in between other activities. On any other day, we might exercise, then shower, then get on with our lives. But at Hood to Coast, we run and then run and then run some more. On any other day, we spend time with friends and then go home. But at Hood to Coast, things just keep going. All the while, as we grow increasingly sleep-deprived, everything becomes more and more…interesting. 

A recent article in The Atlantic entitled “What Adults Forgot About Friendship” explains how the typical social ritual of “catching up” is not enough to create meaningful connection. Friends need to waste time together the way kids do to build enduring relationships. In a world where busy professionals are starved of play and casual time with one another, what better way to “waste time” than by spending 30 hours in a van, moving through unfamiliar landscapes, and with a complete shuffling of normal daily rituals?The community that emerges from experiences like Hood to Coast would be different to recreate in any other way, and makes the perceived hardship more than worth it. 

Since only two sleepless nights and 15 miles apiece was never going to be enough, following a post-finish dip in the ocean, we all gathered that evening to share a home-cooked meal and swap stories about heat-induced delirium, dusty mountain roads, and well-placed coupons for free fresh fries. As the sun set that night, we huddled around a fire and put off a full night’s rest just a little longer. Because sometimes more and more and more is…truly more. 

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