Safety is top priority for Hood to Coast 2017 runners - KPTV - FOX 12

Safety is top priority for Hood to Coast 2017 runners

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While runners have prepared their bodies for the race of their life, staff and volunteers with Oregon's Hood to Coast relay have prepared to make runners safe too.

The relay, about 200 miles long, is a physical race to the end. According to runners, it is also a mental game where your teammates fuel your drive to succeed. 

“Its an opportunity to challenge yourself regardless of your fitness level," said Nicole Andergard, a runner with the Transplant Trotters. “That camaraderie of getting out of the van at night and cheering your teammates on, that goes so far."

On Friday morning, thousands will start their run. The Transplant Trotters are one group who said they are prepared for anything. 

“We are a team made entirely of organ recipients, organ donors and family members of those who have donated," said Andergard. 

The night before the big run, the team sat down and talked about safety over a few sandwiches. 

One runner said, “Do not stop to talk to volunteers as you’re getting ready to pull in for the exchanges." This is part of the regulations for the relay that stemmed from a 2008 incident where a runner was hit by a passing car. 

Runners can no longer use headphones to cover their ears, and other safety gear is required.

“We’re really good about wearing the safety vests at night, and having the head lamps on in the front and the blinking light in the back," Andergard said.

For the Transplant Trotters, safety went a bit further.

“We actually had a girl succumb to near heat stroke last year on our team and she was picked up by the EMS and they drove her to the exchange and she was fine and able to rejoin us," said Andergard.

On Thursday night, the team packed their medication for the long ride and anything else they needed.

“Some years we’re faster than others you know the heat sometimes slows us down there are many things that change that so we just stick to our excellent document and we keep up,” Andergard said.

The annual run is not for the timid, but runners agreed seeing the finish line is far worth the wait.

Volunteers also had to watch videos to prepare for the race as well. The extra set of eyes and ears are essential to helping out along the course.

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