Dear Hood to Coast:

A little over one week ago, I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since high school.  

I graduated from South Eugene High School…a long time ago. Ok, 1987. Next to the life-changing Steens Mtn. High Altitude Running Camp, HTC was the “cool” thing to do. But the stars never aligned. When I was fast and fit, HTC didn’t mesh with my racing seasons. And when I was injured, in medical school, pregnant, pregnant, in residency, pregnant, injured (you get the picture), well, HTC was not an option. So I watched with jealousy for decades as my friends raved about their experiences.

This spring, out of the blossoming relationship between Oiselle and Every Mother Counts, came a golden opportunity: would Oiselle like to field 6 runners to help EMC promote maternal health? Of course Sally jumped at the chance, and 6 of us from Oiselle quickly signed up.  Oh, and they were making a documentary of our experience? No problem :O

I was super anxious going into HTC, partly because I had helped with logistics planning and was nervous about any glitches; but, mostly because I didn’t know if my body would hold up. My bad rap is that I’m a “fragile” runner…you know, kid gloves and all that. The kind you under-train. The kind that drills a workout pain free and then wakes up 2 days later with a mysterious injury that kills a month. I was terrified that after one leg I would be unable to leave the van and would disappoint all of my teammates and new EMC friends. I was given “easy leg” 4.

As we met our EMC teammates the night before our 11:30am start, I began to get a calming feeling that this experience was bigger than me, that everything would work out. We talked about how women have to walk, in labor, well over 5K to reach childbirth assistance in many countries.  About how Haiti rebuilding efforts are taking time, how clean water is still a crucial health issue. And we began to make those team connections that support you through the tough miles.

At the start, we all cheered excitedly and danced around as our first leg Fain attacked the downhill…it was happening! The next 26 hours are a happy haze for me, but I’m pretty sure I had a silly grin on my face the entire time, photo evidence provided. The running was blissful, I felt free, easy, and strong. But it wasn’t just the running. My van-mates Sally, Clancy, Fain, Nick, and Kristen were positive, courageous, and funny (and damn, those boys had amazing hygiene!). Our drivers Kerr and Katie were even-tempered master tacticians. And our reunions with van 2: [CTB, Amy, JJ, Alex, Christy, KMet, drivers Amy and my hubby Bob] got us all jacked up. I’m hoping the film crew will edit me out of the documentary…after every leg all I could say was “THAT WAS AWESOME!”  

Thank you Oiselle, EMC, and HTC for solidly renewing my love affair with running.





Atsuko Tamara