For me it was . . .
Two vans of 6 runners each – many of whom were strangers at the beginning and friends by the end.
Driving to the top of Mt. Hood before the sun rose as a thunderstorm pounded down rain and hail drenching the earliest runners we passed.
Rolling down a window and cheering for your teammate before you drove away to meet them at the next exchange.
Running seven miles down the highway and trying to remember the wise advice you were given to “relax and go with it” and sending up a prayer to please, please let my leg stay pain-free.
Counting the people you pass while racing and adding tally marks to the back window of your van under the word “Roadkill.”
Recounting race stories and running adventures as you drove.
Slapping the H2C bracelet on as you started a leg.
Running the hottest, most intense 4.25 miles you’ve had in a long time (without water because that distance is just lovely in the coastal climate you are used to) and wondering how you’ll make it to the end.
Passing on the H2C slap bracelet after finishing that brutal leg as your teammates hand you 2 waters: one to dump on your head and one to drink.
Using more portapotties than you care to remember.
Eating and drinking from a cooler for 2 days.
Sleeping for a couple hours (or at least trying to) in a field under the stars as dew collected around you.
Putting on a headlamp, reflective vest, and LED flasher because it’s 2 AM and you’ve got 3.75 miles to run.
Jumping out of the van a mile before the exchange with the official stopwatch and jogging to the start because the van traffic wasn’t moving and the teammate you need to meet just ran by.
Vans and SUVs and runners for days and days and miles and miles.
A big beach party with not only the rest of your team, but the thousands of other finishers, followed by a quiet, sleepy ride home.
A test of physical and mental endurance.