While the Hood to Coast Relay gives many different memories to different people, for Carlie Henson, a 24-year-old runner from Seattle, it is running the 2 a.m. leg that she will remember the most.
“There is something about running in the middle of the night that I love. The feeling that I’m on the road alone, yet there are thousands of other runners with me, and my team following close behind. Yet in the darkness, there is a real oneness in the running,” Henson said.
Henson was part of 12,600 other runners and 4,000 walkers who took part in the annual Hood to Coast Relay and Portland to Coast Walk Relay over the weekend. For the runners, the race begins at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, and ends on the beach in Seaside.
With 1,050 teams participating in Hood to Coast this year, the BTC Men’s team came in first place with a time of 17 hours 32 minutes and 31 seconds, closely followed by the Google 1 team at 19:13:01.
In its 33rd year, the relay mobilizes much of the North Coast for the weekend, as more than 3,000 volunteers helped with everything from ensuring safety at exchanges and intersections, to providing food and areas to sleep, to helping with the many finish-line activities.
“This is my fifth year now,” said Gail Stutzman from Beaverton, who participates in the Portland to Coast Walk Relay. “Every year I feel like I’m treated royally. Everyone takes good care of us,” she said. Stutzman and several of her teammates had just finished a shower and a couple hours sleep at Jewell School.
Jewell, like dozens of other rest stops along the way, provides a place to sleep, meals, and showers for the weary athletes. And every year, the Jewell PTO makes good money from the runners and walkers who start coming late Friday afternoon and continue all day Saturday.
Although the Hood to Coast Relay is one of the most anticipated events of the late summer, it is not without its detractors. Though some Seaside business owners don’t want to say it openly, they are irked by a city clogged with teams of runners who aren’t interested in shopping.
“The hotels and the restaurants do fine, but we basically have to take a hit every year. This weekend should be one of our busiest, but instead it is one of our deadest,” said the manager of one Seaside business who did not want to be identified. This view is not uncommon in Seaside where the Hood to Coast is welcomed with open arms, and a bit of a grimace.
“Yeah, the traffic is a bit of a problem, but it can’t really be helped. Hood to Coast does kind of put Seaside on the map,” said Kevin Couch a runner from Portland. Couch was sitting on the sand, stretching tired muscles. He said that he and his team would have a nice meal that night, then head back Sunday after the awards.
“This is my 10th year,” Couch said. “I look forward to this every year. I would rather be here with my toes in the sand of Seaside after a nice run, than anywhere else in the world,” he added.
‘I would rather be here with my toes in the sand of Seaside after a nice run, than anywhere else in the world.’
— Kevin Couch