This past weekend 10 Googlers competed at Hood to Coast - the largest relay race in the world - where more than 1,000 teams start at the top of Mt. Hood (11,249 feet) and race 200 miles to the coast of Oregon. This was our rookie year, and our team, "Powered by Google," included Nathan Stoll, Bismarck Lepe, David King, Katie Hotchkiss, Sean Knapp, Michaela Prescott, Natalie Criou, Dan Brown, Tyrona Heath, and me.

Armed with a flashlight and decked out in a reflective vest, Nathan started us off at 7:45 Friday night with a 6-mile run down the face of the mountain. The runners on deck hopped on Van #1 to cheer him on and meet him at the next exchange. The runners who weren't on call until the second stage headed to the nearest Best Western Pony Soldier Inn for some spaghetti and shut-eye.

At the sixth leg exchange Sean passed the baton to Michaela and the race continued through the midnight hour while our starters headed back to the Pony Soldier for a 60-minute power nap. After refueling on Red Bull, coffee, power gels, and turkey sandwiches from a nearby gas station mini-mart, we caught up with Van #2 as the sun rose over Portland. From there, through the dusty back roads and increasing temperatures, we continued passing the baton in 4-8 mile intervals.

It all went smoothly until we met an 18-minute logistical error at exchange 24 (read: we lost Van #2) and then had a flat tire at exchange 29. But we rebounded with solid performances in the final legs, making up much lost ground. Finally, cloaked in a Google jersey, our anchor leg, Sean, crossed the finish line in 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 17 seconds.

In the time it took us to reach the coast, we had each run an average of 20 miles at 6:48/mile. We captured a third place finish in the "corporate mixed" division, and a top 50 finish overall, out of 1,063 teams.

Not bad for a bunch of first-timers. Just wait until next year: we won't be rookies anymore.