One of the hashtags this year for Hood To Coast is #finishcancer. (There’s also #htc2018 and #HoodToCoast2018.) Last weekend, when the event took over some of Seaside, just as the first of the running teams were crossing the finish line, I went on Instagram to see what people were posting.
“What an incredible, difficult, inspiring experience,” one participant said. “My legs feel broken but my heart is so full.” She thanked her fellow Holy Walkamolies for inviting her to join them. A runner representing Timberline Lodge posted: “With about 20,000 participants and 43,000 on the waiting list, we feel blessed to have been invited back!”
The Hood to Coast relay is 200 miles from Mount Hood to Seaside. The winning team this year, The Toyo University Ekiden Team, competed against some 1,050 teams of 12 to finish in just seven hours. If that’s not an athletic feat, I don’t know what is. Our pet and house-sitter, who lives on 14th Street, was messaging with me that morning how happy she and her family were to stand outside and cheer the runners on.
I know a lot of people who say they hate Hood to Coast. Some of them are merchants who complain the event drives down business on what should be one of the busiest weekends of the year. I frequently hear locals referring to the runners as “entitled,” although nobody has yet properly explained to me what that means.
Around 10 a.m. Saturday, after snapping some photos on the beach, I wandered along Broadway to see what I could see. There was a line outside the door to Tsunami Sandwich Co. and Beach Day Coffee. A little further up the street, tables at The Big Kahuna were all taken. I guess after you’ve just finished a race, even at 10 a.m., it’s not too soon for a bloody Mary or a margarita. A little later I got in the car to drive to the library. Roosevelt Avenue was no more congested than it is any summer Saturday.
I’d like to change the conversation about Hood to Coast. Truth to tell, I’m weary of the griping and ancient grievances. I’m tired of locals saying that some runner somewhere left a “brownie” on their lawn — it’s become a Seaside urban legend.) I saw a barrage of insults on a local person’s social media page about the event that seemed clearly lacking in substance. Complaining about Hood To Coast strikes me as an ingrained habit, a habit I’d like to see changed.
Why not focus on the $750,000 raised to fight cancer or the benefit to our hospital? You’re a merchant and you say the event drives your business down? Then do something to entice it. Once the race is over, there’s hours before the big party starts. And most of the hotel rooms have to be booked through Sunday. That leaves plenty of time for the runners to explore our area, dine at our restaurants, sample our recreational medical marijuana edibles, drink our beer. Where are the signs saying, “Welcome Hood to Coasters”? Some of the visitors might be thinking, “Hey, this is a pretty nice place,” and one day make their permanent home here.
Changing the attitude changes the conversation. The participants feel blessed to have made the cut to even be in the race. Let’s work on feeling more blessed to welcome them.