Two years ago it was unclear if Hood to Coast would return to Seaside.
The iconic 198-mile relay starting at Timberline Lodge and ending at the Seaside Prom first arrived here in the 1980s. But mounting complaints from residents and businesses about unruly behavior, traffic and poor organization brought angry crowds to City Council meetings and threatened to end the relationship.
The 2015 relay may have been the low point: with high winds and downpours, crowds filled Broadway and tensions soared. Business owners said organizers arbitrarily closed streets, tapped into private power sources and illegally sold wares on the street.
After the 2015 run, the City Council threatened to sever ties to the event. Dozens of local business owners signed a letter expressing discontent “that the overall impact of hosting this massive event during the busy summer tourist season is negative.”
At the time, some councilors called the event “overrated” and sought greater responsiveness from organizers.
On Monday night, evidence of the new bond between the city and Hood to Coast organizers was on full display.
Hood to Coast Chief Operating Officer Dan Floyd appeared before the City Council looking to lock in the race for 2018 and begin discussions for a possible multiyear deal.
“We want to come back and we want to come back for many more years,” Floyd told councilors. “Rather than asking for one year, we want to look for a long-term commitment to be a very long time.”
Councilors praised the organization and its role in the community.
“This is an incredible event and I’m very proud to have it in Seaside,” Councilor Dana Phillips said.
Floyd attributed the improved relationship to city leadership and personnel changes at the Hood to Coast organization.
“We were not without sin in this case,” Floyd said. “In the last five years there has been a pretty significant change in staff and the way we’ve trained volunteers.”
Runners from 43 countries and 50 states participated in this year’s race. The race brings in about 18,000 runners, Floyd said, and the city generally collects about $1 per head.
Funds from Hood to Coast raised more than $730,000 for Providence Cancer Center in 2017.
The Seaside Chamber of Commerce nets about another $30,000 by staffing and operating the event’s beer garden.
“This is a lot different than two years ago,” Floyd said after the meeting. “The sentiment and the feeling has really changed dramatically and in a very positive way.”
“They’ve addressed situations that in the past years that were negative and have turned them into positives,” Brian Owen, executive director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce said. “It’s a good, strong partnership. We all win.”
Future meetings with Hood to Coast organizers will determine details about the 2018 race, including compensation and a potential long-term deal, City Manager Mark Winstanley said.
In the meantime, the council approved the one-year extension.
“I am fully confident that we will be working together for a long time,” Floyd said.
The 2018 race is scheduled for Aug. 24 and Aug. 25.