RaceCenter Northwest Magazine August/September 2011 : Page 38

Hood To CoasT Scott Lommers WoodsToCk Two of the Northwest’s biggest races are celebrating major anniversaries this year. If you haven’t checked the registry lists yet, let me help you out. The Portland Marathon (see sidebar) celebrates 40 years — the traditional gift is a ruby if you’re in a shopping mood. Hood To Coast celebrates 30 years — diamonds. And the guest lists will be quite large: More than 12,000 runners will run the Portland Marathon, and over 20,000 at the Hood To Coast Relay! on WHeels uniform, but span various distances from 3.7 to 7.4 miles each. Hood To Coast also adds thousands more participants with two affiliated events: the Portland to Coast Walk Relay and the Portland to Coast High School Challenge Relay. Change Is Good So how does a race not just survive, but thrive for 30 years or more? It takes a little luck, an unbelievable amount of hard work, and the ability to change with the times. “And it doesn’t hurt that our course is the most beautiful in the world,” says Hood To Coast Director of Marketing Jude Hubber. Hood To Coast: The Mother of All Relays Turns 30 The biggest change for Hood To Coast has clearly been the size of the race. Within 10 years, the relay outgrew its finishing home of Pacific City and moved its finish tape to the larger community of Seaside. Even there, the huge number of runners and volunteers can strain the waistband of the coastal village, basically tripling the population of Seaside on race weekend. Working with Clatsop County, Hood To Coast organizers have capped the race at 1,250 teams and have filled that number on the opening day of registration for 13 years running. Of course, there are more mundane chores that accompany that growth. The race boasts that it supplies more ABOVE: The Hood To Coast Relay finished in Pacific City for ten years before field sizes swelled and necessitated a move north to the larger community of Seaside where it presently concludes. than 500 portable toilets on race weekend. Hubber also reported that the 30th anniversary race will be the first time that Hood To Coast will have recycling available at every exchange point. They expect to recycle more than 21,000 plastic water bottles. Another significant and demanding challenge Hood To Coast has come from truly humble beginnings to reign as the world’s largest running relay. In 1982, Robert Foote had already run multiple marathons and needed a new challenge. Not finding anything worthy in the sparse running landscape of the early 1980s, Foote decided to build his own race. He organized eight teams with 10 runners each to run a relay from Mount Hood To Pacific City on Oregon’s coast. In that first year, each runner traversed relay legs of exactly five miles across the entire course, even if an exchange point happened to be in the middle of an intersection! Thirty years later, in 2011, 1,250 teams of 12 toed the starting line at Mount Hood. All 15,000 runners eventually made it to the finish in Seaside, OR. The legs RIGHT: Runners make their way to the finish in Pacific City in 1983. are no longer r ac ec ent er . c om 38 august/september 2011 HOOD TO COAST HOOD TO COAST

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