Seven years ago, Carrie and Scott Douglass ran the Golden Gate Relay together, one of the burgeoning number of approximately 200-mile running races that split up the chore among a dozen or so runners. Since then, they also have run the Bourbon Chase and Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay, and these events have become not just a hobby, but a business and lifestyle for the couple.
"We thought the concept of running all day and night with your best friends was a great way to turn running into a team sport," explains Scott. "The shenanigans and inside jokes amongst our teammates live long past race weekend. Nothing keeps you going [like] when you know your teammates are a few miles up the road planning something silly for when you pass by."
In 2008, just one week after their wedding, Scott and Carrie hosted the first Cascade Lakes Relay, a 216.6 mile race that starts with a 7-mile loop around Diamond Lake, just north of Crater Lake, and works its way north to Bend. Like other multi-stage relays, the course is covered by 12 different runners, each taking three different legs of the race, riding in sweaty vans, and trying to sleep in-between those runs; usually the run lasts around 24 hours, which means, yes, runners go through the night.
But the Cascade Lakes Relay is far from a carbon copy of those other races. Scott and Carrie have purposefully set out to create an event that captures the challenges and beauty of running along the spine of a mountain range, and they also have tried to avoid some of the pitfalls of other relay races; like the congestion caused by Hood-to-Coast, the late summer relay that pushes from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast and notoriously causes bumper-to-bumper jams as 1,000 vans crawl through downtown Portland and clog the roads on Highway 30.
"We thought runners would be excited to try a boutique relay experience with an intimate family feel that focuses on a beautiful, rural course," explains Scott. When the couple came up with the idea to host relay races, they were living in Oakland, where Scott was serving active duty as an Officer in the Navy. But they both grew up in Bend, and wanted a race that would have Bend as its finish line. They weren't able to finally and fully return to Bend until 2013, but conducted the race somewhat remotely in the meantime, building up a loyal following.
Scott and Carrie also wanted to create a race that emphasized not only team camaraderie, but strived to create an entire pop-up community during the weekend. Many of the relays are well known for the individual teams and colorfully decorated vans that turn into mobile tribes over the course of the race, creating cultures that go so far as encouraging competitors to count runners that they pass from other teams as "road kill." On the contrary, Cascade Lakes Relay is looking to sidestep a certain amount of cut-throat competition, and instead create a good-natured attitude.
"Unlike Hood-to-Coast, where people count their 'road kills' like it's something really cool, our focus is on creating a positive and supportive family culture at Cascade Lakes Relay," says Scott. "'Road kills' are demoralizing and not very motivating for the person that just got out-run." He goes on, "We're supportive of competition; nothing says 'great job' or 'you're doing awesome, keep it up,' like a solid slap on the ass as you pass and then give them the thumbs up!"
To encourage that sort of fun-spirited culture within the relay, Scott has considered adding a component that replaces the "road kill" with a slap on the back (or ass). But recognizing that not every runner wants a pat on the back/butt after 20 sweaty miles, they are considering creating uniforms that have a red light/green light for such hands-on encouragement.
"Just like a Brazilian steakhouse with the green/red button that signifies 'meat or no meat,'" he explains, "we'll definitely designate whether it's ok for anybody that passes you to give that love slap. So, if the runner is wearing their bib on their backside...SLAP IT...but if there's no bib on the backside, I'd recommend just giving the thumbs up when you pass them!"
In addition to hosting the Cascade Lake Relay, Scott and Carrie host the Bend Beer Chase and the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay.
Cascade Lakes Relay
Friday, July 31-Saturday, August 1
Free to watch