This year’s Hood to Coast Relay is the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers announced the cancellation last week, citing health and safety and Gov. Kate Brown's statewide restrictions on large gatherings through September.
Dan Floyd, the event's chief operating officer, said state Sen. Betsy Johnson and Seaside Mayor Jay Barber “supported our decision with concern that bringing a large-scale event to Clatsop and Columbia counties may put the public’s health at risk.”
The cancellation brings more economic hurt to the city, already reeling from cancellations of the Fourth of July fireworks, Pouring at the Coast, Miss Oregon and other signature events.
Presented by the city of Seaside, Seaside Chamber of Commerce and the Hood to Coast Relay Series, will dramatically affect the summer opportunities for our local businesses, chamber of commerce CEO Brian Owen said.
“Our tourism sector has been struck hard with each closure and restrictions,” Owen said. “Each event cancelation creates a new challenge and hurdle for our family-owned businesses to overcome.”
The roughly 200-mile relay race in late August begins at Timberline Lodge and concludes at the Seaside beach. Teams filter into town from early morning until night during the second day of the race. Vendors, music and trophy presentations follow.
Last year’s event brought 19,000 runners and walkers, and another 3,000 volunteers. Organizers estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 participants, spectators, family and friends.
The roughly 200-mile relay race begins at Timberline Lodge and concludes at the Seaside beach. Teams filter into town from early morning until night during the second day of the race. Vendors, music and trophy presentations follow.
The event delivered more than $900,000 to the Providence Cancer Institute and provided a major portion of chamber of commerce revenue. In 2018, Hood to Coast delivered $30,000 to the chamber, second only to the volleyball tournament, which generated $238,000.
In March 2018, Seaside and Hood to Coast inked a new contract, starting at $25,000 and increasing 5% a year through 2022, when Hood to Coast will pay the city more than $30,000.
Without a race, “we wouldn’t hold them to that,” Mayor Jay Barber said.
“There will be impacts, no doubt about it,” Barber said. “The big impact is on the chamber. The chamber really works hard to plan these events. They run the big beer garden, which is a key component of their funding, which is going away this year. I am concerned about the integrity of the chamber being able to continue their work. We need them and the SDDA (Seaside Downtown Development Association) to support our business community right now.”
This is the first time in memory the event has been canceled, “Hood to Coast Memories” author Marc Spiegel said.
Spiegel, who wrote “Hood to Coast Memories,” spoke this week of “the special relationship that the relay has developed with Seaside serving as the race finish through the years.”
“We collected many stories from participants and others about Seaside being a great place for teams to gather together, reminisce about the event, relax after running or walking, and celebrate the completion of the relay.
Joshua Heineman, Seaside’s director of tourism marketing, called the cancellation another in a remarkable string of economic hits to Seaside due to COVID-19.
“Starting with Pouring at the Coast in March and now extending at least through September, 2020 is shaping up to be the big pause — truly a lost year for this community,” he said.