City Manager Mark Winstanley was at a country inn in Tuscany when he met a family from Oregon who had run Hood to Coast.
“Even when you’re on vacation, you can run into people who have been to the same event you have been to two weeks ago. It’s really pretty amazing, the impact that Hood to Coast has around the world,” he said of his encounter in Italy. “We’re pretty lucky to have it here.”
City Councilor Tita Montero said she had a similar experience while traveling in London.
Closer to home, though, the annual relay has a bit of an image problem. Several residents took to social media after the event returned from a pandemic hiatus in August to complain about rude runners and a lack of virus protocols.
At a City Council meeting last Monday, Dan Floyd, Hood to Coast’s chief operating officer, presented a check for almost $29,000 to the city from the event. In a typical year, the relay earns almost $1 million for the Providence Cancer Institute.
“We had another great year,” Floyd said. “I do want to acknowledge we need to get better every year, to make sure we remain welcoming visitors to the community.”
The 198-mile relay from Mount Hood to the Prom brought thousands of people to the coast.
Before the City Council meeting, Hood to Coast CEO Jude Hubber met with city staff. Social media was the No. 1 concern for Montero.
“I paid a lot of attention to what was going on on Facebook,” she said. “And there were some very awful people saying very awful things. And one of my policies is, ‘Don’t tell me something’s happening if you didn’t see it happen.’”
Montero suggested greater marketing efforts from Hood to Coast and making it easier for the public to register complaints with race officials, possibly via a Quick Response code with a weblink to relay officials, or signage on vans.
“We’ll continue to have open dialogue with everybody here in this room, outside this room to make sure that we continue to be welcome members and contributing members to this community,” Floyd said.
Next year is the last of the five-year Hood to Coast contract with the city. In 2022, the relay will pay more than $30,000 to the city. The event is scheduled for Aug. 26 and Aug. 27.
In 2015, City Councilor Randy Frank moderated a workshop where he and local business owners complained about rude behavior by runners, arrogant organizers and vendors who tapped into private power supplies.
“It’s become a much better event,” Frank said. “And not only here, but all the way along the route, whether it’s restrooms or volunteers. ... It just gets smoother every year, and it was great having it in town.”