By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Salty fresh air lapping at the face. Running from a mountain timberline, at an elevation of about 6,500 feet, to the expansive ocean, elevation zero.
Last year they vowed to return. And this year they did.
Seven runners from Havre left town Thursday to embark on their second Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon.
Lisa Hopewell, Pam Barnett, Trina Muller, Dave Crosly, Tim Ranes, Chad Spangler and Christian Oberquell have been training during the past year to improve on their 26-hour run from last season.
We hope to make it in 24 hours this year, Hopewell said. Last year they ran the relay in over 26 hours.
The team starts at 6:15 p.m. Friday, taking off from the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood in Oregon. The finish line closes at 9 p.m. Saturday at Seaside, Ore.
The runners will pace themselves to run through Portland, along the Columbia River Basin and through towns named Mist and Jewell before crossing the finish line at Seaside.
Each participant will run three legs with the legs varying in distance from five to eight miles. Two support vans are being driven to transport and exchange runners throughout the race.
The Havre team is meeting five runners from Seattle who will help makeup the 12-member team.
The 18th running of the relay is 195 miles long. Touted as the longest relay race in the world, the race attracted more than 19,000 runners and walkers last year. There were about 1,000 teams competing for the top prize and the was expected this year.
The Havre team held a fun run in July and accepted sponsorships that helped cut the cost of the trip. The entry fee alone was $600 and van rentals and travel expenses also had to be covered.
The local support and everything was great, Hopewell said. Next year, the team hopes to attract enough local runners to have a Havre-only team.