Hood to Coast
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The annual Hood To Coast Relay is an overnight, long-distance relay race held in the U.S. state of Oregon, annually in late August, traditionally on the Friday and Saturday before the Labor Day weekend. It is the largest running and walking relay in the world (with 12,600 in Hood To Coast Relay, 18,000 total participants, including Portland To Coast Walk and Portland To Coast Challenge Run Relay). The Hood To Coast has filled its team limit for the past 30 years, and 23 straight years on Opening Day of the lottery.
The course runs approximately 320 km (200 mi) (the course length changes by 1–5 km each year due to small changes made by race organizers) from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon Coast.
Walking and running teams may choose to compete in the Portland To Coast Walk or Portland To Coast Challenge respectively, both of which are held in conjunction with the main Hood To Coast Relay and start near downtown Portland instead of Mount Hood.
Hood To Coast hosts several picturesque one day relays as well with HTC Cape Lookout, HTC Seabrook, and HTC High Desert (Central Oregon). Hood To Coast went international in 2016 and annually hosts Hood To Coast China, or "H2C China" in conjunction with Yao Ming's company, Starz Sports. Each summer, Chinese, American and other international runners in HTC China (limited to 400 teams) start on the mountain at Thaiwoo Ski Resort (site of the 2022 Winter Olympics), and traverse a mountainous, picturesque course to its destination 110 miles later in Zhangjiakou. Additional annual international HTC events include Hood To Coast Taiwan, Hood To Coast Israel, and Hood To Coast Hainan .
The relay was founded by Bob Foote, who was President of the Oregon Road Runners Club and an ultra-marathon runner. The first relay in 1982 drew eight teams that ran 165 miles from Timberline to Kiwanda Beach near Pacific City, Oregon. The relay grew rapidly to over 400 teams by 1986. In 1989, the finish area was moved to Seaside where it remains today.
In 2019, the Hood & Portland To Coast Relays and HTC Race Series became the first certified B Corporation in the running and athletic event industry.
Cancer research and fundraising has long been part of the event. Over the past six years alone, the race has raised nearly $6 million for the Providence Cancer Institute, making it the second-largest road race cancer fundraising program in the nation.
In 2006, Felicia Hubber, joined the organization to oversee race logistics, as Race Director and Chairperson, overseeing the long term vision and Hood To Coast mission moving forward.
Open to all interested competitors, but limited to 1,050 twelve-person teams, Hood To Coast has filled its limit for 30 consecutive years and on opening day for the past 23 straight years. Teams each year are chosen by lottery from entries postmarked on opening day of registration, (first Wednesday of October). The Portland To Coast Walk & Challenge Relays are limited to 400 and 50 teams respectively; entries are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis until all spaces are filled.
The 320 km (200 mi) Hood To Coast course consists of 36 legs; each team member runs three in rotation. The course is run primarily on paved roads and multi-use off-street trails, with small portions of the course on sidewalks and gravel roads. The legs vary in length from 5.4 km (3.4 mi) to 12.5 km (7.8 mi); some legs are virtually flat, and others descend and/or ascend steep mountainous hills. Consequently, a runner or walker may total between 21.9 km (13.6 mi) and 31.7 km (19.7 mi). Teams in the full Hood To Coast Relay must complete the course within a 36-hour time limit.
Teams start on Friday between 3:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in staggered waves of approximately 15 teams every 5 minutes. Teams are seeded based on previous race pace times (extrapolated based on a specific deterioration factor over three legs, taking into account additional factors) for each team's submitted roster. Thus the flow of teams through the 35 exchange points and finish line remains relatively smooth, with all teams finishing the race by the closing time of 9 p.m. on Saturday.
The course starts at Timberline Lodge at the 6,000-foot (1,800 m) level of Mount Hood, and proceeds down Timberline Road to Government Camp. This first leg drops 2,000 feet (610 m) in elevation over about 6 miles (9.7 km); the next two legs from Government Camp to Rhododendron have a combined elevation drop of 2,300 feet (700 m) over about 10 miles (16 km).
Runners proceed west along U.S. Route 26 to the towns of Sandy and Gresham, where the route proceeds along the Springwater Corridor Trail to the Sellwood neighborhood in southeast Portland. The route then proceeds north along the paved Springwater/Willamette River Trail and crosses the Tilikum Crossing Bridge west into downtown Portland.
After going over the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, runners proceed north along Naito Parkway in downtown Portland along the west bank of the Willamette River and onto U.S. Route 30 to St. Helens. From there onward, the route passes through hilly rural and sometimes unpaved backroads through the forested communities of Mist and Birkenfeld on the way to the beach finish line party in Seaside.
The Portland To Coast Walk & Challenge Run Relay follow the last 24 legs (130 miles) of the course, starting from the Tilikum Crossing Bridge in downtown Portland. Each participant in these relays walk or run two legs in rotation.
Logistics and atmosphere
Each twelve-person team is allowed two vehicles no larger than a standard-sized van. While the vans generally follow the race course in support of their runners, certain narrower portions of the course require one van to make a predetermined detour route to alleviate traffic congestion. Teams typically give themselves funny or original names and decorate their vehicles according to a theme.
Teams are expected to provide their own provisions. Local schools, granges and churches along the route provide sleeping areas, food, and showers to participants as fundraisers (see HTC handbook). Teams compete in divisions based on gender (women's, men's, and mixed) age (based on the age of the youngest participant) or corporate. At the Finish festivities on the sprawling beach party, photos, finisher/place medals are given to the top six teams in each category, along with food/beverage and live musical entertainment throughout the day and evening.
All teams that include at least one member living within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of Portland are required to provide three volunteers to ensure adequate personnel at turns and exchanges along the 200 mile race course.
The race was the subject of the 2011 film Hood to Coast, directed by Christoph Baaden. The film chronicles four teams, their back story and inspiration for running, while watching their heartfelt experiences in the race. The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival and was released nationwide to wide acclaim in theaters on January 11, 2011.
- Boaz Herzog, "The anchor leg in world's largest relay", The Oregonian, August 25, 2006.