Clouds started the morning in Seaside, but lifted as runners crossed the finish line.
“Things are going really well this morning,” Hood to Coast Chief Operating Officer Dan Floyd said last Saturday morning. “The weather’s beautiful. And it seems like people are really happy to rediscover being in Seaside and the North Coast.”
The Hood to Coast Relay from Mount Hood brings teams of eight to 12 runners 198 miles to the finish at the beach in Seaside. The Portland to Coast Walk Relay brings teams 130 miles to Seaside.
The first team arrived at 4:48 a.m. Saturday morning, and the last was set to pull in at about 9 p.m., Floyd said.
It was pouring rain when runners from Girls Run Wild from Salt Lake City left Mount Hood 3 a.m. Friday morning.
Girls Run Wild, from Salt Lake City, Utah. They’ve run many relays, but this was their first Hood to Coast.
“We left Mount Hood without seeing Mount Hood,” team member Amy Roskelley said. “And when we arrived at the ocean this morning, you couldn’t see the ocean.”
By mid-morning the weather changed for the better and even with a wrong turn, the team of 12 made up the time and were in Seaside by early Saturday.
The team Buffalo Shampoo left from OMSI in Portland in the PDX to Coast Walk Relay. The team of 11 walked 130 miles strumming guitars and rattling tambourines, spreading good vibes and winning the relay’s congeniality award in the process.
Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic, and with a surge of COVID cases in Oregon, health and safety protocols remained at top of mind, Floyd said.
“This is going to look very similar down here to every other year, with exception to following the COVID guidelines,” Floyd said. “We’re going show the entire state that you can you can hold an event and do it safely.”
Originally more than 1,250 teams were expected, but with travel restrictions for international teams, that was reduced to about 1,100, Floyd said. Cancellations will receive race deferrals until next year.
DJ Steph Floss and his team, Run with the Winners, came from Cleveland, Ohio, where they have worked as a running team for seven years. They learned about the race from two team members from Portland. Floss, near the finish line, said “his legs are crazy now.”
To train, the team’s Chris Thaxton said the team did hill workouts and “stacked their runs.”
Team member Kathryn Ferenz said the run was something she’s never experienced.
“We don’t get total darkness in Cleveland,” Ferenz said. “We’re not generally running on the roads at 3 a.m. We don’t generally see stars when we run. And we got to see stars. We have hills but not rolling hills like this.”
With a surge in COVID cases and new statewide outdoor mask mandates, safety protocols were at top of mind for runners and families.
Runners agreed. “I think they did a pretty good job of making us feel safe with mask requirements and all their safety protocols,” Kelly Trumbull, a team member of Running with the Bulls, based in Sacramento, California.
Max Dimm, of the Portland-based team Chafed and Confused, said there was uncertainty whether the event was going to happen. “The mask and the protocol was all appreciated, but it definitely added a different new element to things.”
Dimm said whenever not actually running, participants were expected to wear a mask to be courteous to the people around.
Along with masks, sanitizer and teams spread out over a longer duration on the course, Floyd said. Organizers hosted an on-site free vaccine location, open to race participants and the public.
Seaside Police Lieutenant Guy Knight said there had been no arrests or serious incidents connected to the race.
“It’s an interesting time in our world right now,” he said at the beach Saturday afternoon. “Everybody’s trying to navigate it and weigh the risk and benefit. As you can see, most people are wearing their masks. They’re doing their best to social distance. All in all, I think it’s been successful so far.”
Brian Owen, CEO of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce said on Sunday he felt the event went “as well as it could have.”
With the extra space built into the finish line experience, teams, volunteers and residents distanced themselves and found a place to celebrate, connect and manage their own boundaries, Owen said.
“After the past 18 months of isolation or limited in-person human connection, it was nice to see people smiling, talking, joking and creating memories — memories that include our town, Seaside, a special place that since the late-1800s families from all over have traveled to experience the beautiful Oregon Coast.”