Friday, September 3, 2004

Running down a dream

Local squad triumphs in Hood to Coast race

Express Staff Writer

Angenie McCleary has something in common with racecar drivers. She always has her eye on the finish line and she wants to accomplish two things: to get there first and to get there fast.

When McCleary organized the Hood To Coast Relay squad, team members posted three rules on the side of the van that read: Angenie?s Options: #1?Have fun and win. #2?Run hard and win. #3?Win.

The team, comprised of 12 women, including three locals accomplished Angenie?s mission: they won.

In a field of 1,000 teams consisting of a total of 12,000 individuals, McCleary?s squad, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, posted a total time of 21 hours and 52 minutes to place first in the women?s division. The squad finished the 197-mile race in 39th place overall and were the fastest team from the Gem State.

The Hood to Coast race started on Friday, August 27 at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and finished on the beach at Seaside, Oregon on Saturday, August 28.

The team sponsored by Runner?s Soul of Spokane, WA., consisted of several elite pacers including Cori Mooney of Boise and Johanna Olson, who trained in Ketchum over the summer. Both women competed at the 2004 Olympic marathon trials at St. Louis in April. Mooney also set the team record for ?road kill? during the race, passing 58 people on one 5.8-mile leg.

Local team members included McCleary, Robyn Wangberg, Katie Nasvik and Gretchen Grindle.

?It was a high caliber team,? McCleary remarked. ?We averaged 6:40 miles.?

McCleary and her friends had planned on running in the iconic Oregon race since they were teenagers.

?In high school we always said we wanted to do it and that would be Girls Just Wanna Have Fun would be our name. It?s a large race in Oregon and something you always look up to,? McCleary said.

The 27-year old held on to her dream and made it come true, captaining a winning team in her fifth Hood to Coast event.

It was not without hitches, however, but Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, cleared every obstacle thrown in its way.

Racers are supposed to average five minute legs, but the opening runner on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun had to drop out, so everyone?s shifts got a little longer.

?You are supposed to run a total of about 15 miles,? McCleary said. ?But everyone had to move up. Johanna ran four legs instead of three. My last leg, which was supposed to be 4.1 easy miles, turned into 7.9 very hard.?

McCleary added she slept about 40 minutes during the event, but she?s not complaining. McCleary said the experience was great and plans to be back next year.

?It was just a wild time. It was a lot of fun,? she said.

Girls do just want to have fun and its even more fun when they win. Ask Angenie. She knows.

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