Written by Cambia employee Russell Neville
As we work to transform the health care industry, we know that a healthy workplace is part of the solution. Cambia is consistently recognized as a Healthiest Employer and the health and wellbeing of employees is important to us. This year, Cambia supported the participation of 15 employees in the Hood to Coast Relay, a race that’s a challenging, unique, and truly memorable experience.
When the call went out in late July for runners to join the Cambia Hood to Coast Relay team, I knew immediately that I was going to participate. Over the years, I had heard stories of what a great event Hood to Coast was and it had long been on my list of important things I wanted to do.
If you live in the Portland Metro area, you’ve probably heard of it and you probably know it’s some kind of relay race that goes from Mt. Hood all the way to the Oregon coast. What you may not know, is what an unbelievable collection of logistical hurdles, physical and mental challenges, frustrations, triumphs and unabashed fun that the race represents.
First, some details about the race.
- 1,166 teams
- Roughly 10,000 participants
- Teams are sent out in waves every 15 minutes, starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m.
- The runners are split into two vans and each runner completes three legs, covering about 16.5 miles each.
Cambia’s team had 15 awesome team members: 12 runners, 2 van drivers and our organizer, Chera Justice. Conceptually, it sounds straight forward - drop off your runner at the designated spot, wait for the handoff to occur, pick up the previous runner and drive to the next hand-off. But this is where the chaos, intensity and fun happen! For some legs, particularly those in downtown Portland on a Friday afternoon, it’s difficult to drive to the hand-off location, park and get your runner to the hand-off in time. There were tense moments when we took some wrong turns and subsequent close calls in getting our runners ready for the hand-off. It got more intense at the exchanges, vans dealt double the traffic and most intense when the vans were out of cell range, in the middle of the night, on the narrow backroads crossing the Oregon Coast Range.
My preconception of the race was that there would be long, boring periods of hanging around in the van, waiting for our runners to finish their legs as I waited for mine. Wow, was I wrong! On top of the intensity of getting from point A to point B on-time, the entire Cambia team was running significantly under our predicted per-mile pace and that meant we were constantly updating our predictions of when the van hand-offs needed to occur. Added to that was the constant activity of climbing out of the van to stretch and cheer on our teammates at the transitions. It was a unique mix of the physical challenge of running each leg and the logistical problem solving that was invigorating and immense fun. Part of what made the race so enjoyable was the amazing group of Cambia teammates. Of the seven folks in our van, six of us came from Cambia Consumer Solutions Engineering and one came from LifeMap. We were all new to the race and learning what we needed to do on the fly.
Our van was focused, positive and supportive of our teammates. There were no complaints about being squeezed into a van for 26 hours or getting less than 2 hours of sleep on the gymnasium floor of Jewel High School or the blisters and pains that emerged by the 3rd leg of the race. Everyone treated it as an adventure and the positive energy and camaraderie made me so proud to be part of this team. I had the honor of running the anchor leg for the team to finish on the beach in Seaside. The rest of the team had gathered and the fourteen of us crossed the finish line together. It was both exhilarating and a relief to have made the 199 mile journey together. Everyone had done better and run faster than we had predicted. We beat our expected pace by nearly two hours, finishing the race in 26 hours 44 minutes and 4 seconds. We had placed 11th in the very competitive Men’s Corporate Division and 97th out of 1166 teams. I was proud of how we finished but much more proud and inspired by the focus, commitment, grit and teamwork of my Cambia teammates. I can’t wait for Hood to Coast 2020!