The Hood to Coast Relay is back on track.
The “mother of all relays,” which was canceled last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, could take place Aug. 27 and Aug. 28, with 12-member teams running 199 miles from the top of Mount Hood to the beach in Seaside.
“We’ve been planning on operating our 2021 relay events since the beginning of the year,” Hood to Coast Chief Operating Officer Dan Floyd said. “We feel strongly that we can safely operate the 2021 events.”
The relay team lottery has filled its limit, with 1,050 Hood to Coast running teams and 400 Portland to Coast Walk teams. A new event, the 130-mile Portland to Coast Challenge Relay, leaving from the Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland, is open to 70 teams.
Still, the race series needs approval from all 35 governing bodies along the route, Floyd said. “Therefore, our neighbors and the communities that host the event will have to permit the event first,” he said.
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.
The 2019 relay brought 19,000 runners and walkers to Seaside, and another 3,000 volunteers. Organizers estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 participants, spectators, family and friends.
The event delivered more than $900,000 to the Providence Cancer Institute.
Last year’s Hood to Coast was a casualty of the pandemic, which also led to the cancellation of the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament, the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program and the Fourth of July fireworks show.
The Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast relays will come with social distancing in place, face coverings and contactless team check-in, among other safety measures.
“Relay events are innately socially distanced, as only one member of a relay team participates at any given time,” Floyd said.
Runners will cross the finish line at the beach in Seaside as in years past. Afterward, however, activities have been curtailed, Seaside Chamber of Commerce CEO Brian Owen said.
“As for the beer garden, I do not believe we will be able to have this feature,” he said. “We hope that the event attendees who would generally stay for the runners’ party will instead stay and visit our restaurants and bars, creating mini runners’ parties meeting all current regulations.”
“Right now, we intend to hold the ‘finish’ in Seaside, but not a ‘finish party,’” Floyd said. “We are not going to encourage large gatherings by having a band, fenced areas, or in-person dining. This is all subject to change, but for now, game on!”