we just returned home from oregon after running the 31st annual hood to coast 199 mile relay from mt. hood to seaside. it was a beautiful, well organized race and i was honored to run with such a great team. our 12 member team, southern swift, represented mississippi and the jackson metro well, coming in 20th out of 87 mixed corporate teams (and 305th in 1,070 teams overall). we survived the 2,000 foot decline of leg 1 and the many “rolling” hills between portland and the pacific coast. we even made it through the overnight portion of the race without having too many mental breakdowns (which if you have never stayed up all night running, it can happen pretty fast). we also got to see some really FAST runners. this winning team from japan – toyo university – took home first place with an average of 5:11 per mile (WOW!!). if i am ever lucky enough to get the chance to run this race again, i’m all in!
we spent a couple of days after the race to explore portland. my takeaway from the city, and oregon in general, was how healthy the people were. according to the travel channel, portland ranks as the 4th healthiest city in the united states. there were a few things, in particular, that stood out and made me admire the city’s commitment to health and fitness. first of all, there were bikes and cyclists everywhere. even our hotel had almost a dozen bikes in the lobby that were available for guests to take out and explore. portland has become one of america’s most bike-friendly cities and has instituted many innovative plans over the last few years to make this happen (including giving out free blinking bike lights to citizens to encourage biking and safety). it also has an extremely high park acreage per capita including dog parks. there were several farmer’s markets and a very large presence of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. i also noticed that the people of portland were in tune to environmentally sound practices. i saw many newer innovations that were designed to conserve water, encourage recycling and promote outdoor activities.
the people of portland have it figured out… their efforts seem to be paying off in terms of healthier citizens. and mississippians need to take note!
i am a firm believer that when people are more in tune with their environment and keeping it clean and protected, then they will take better care of themselves. i hope we can soon make changes in our state that will encourage health instead of disease, before it is too late.