PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Scores of runners from across the country kicked off the first leg of Hood to Coast on Friday at 5 a.m.
Approximately 12,600 runners on 1,050 teams of 12 will run the nearly 200-mile relay starting at Timberline Lodge and ending Saturday in Seaside.
Teams will travel along Highway 26, into Portland and then along Highway 30 and into the Coast Range to Seaside.
Runners will pass through the downtown area Friday, crossing the Hawthorn Bridge on their way to Highway 30.
Clear skies and warm temperatures in the upper 70s to lower 80s are forecasted through the relay. Mist may dampen the route for runners early on Saturday morning in the coastal ranges.
‘Mother of all Relays’
Hood to Coast, the “Mother of all Relays” started with 8 teams in 1982. It has filled all of the open team positions on the opening day of registration for 21 straight years.
The relay raises awareness and funds for research and patient care at the Providence Cancer Institute to #FinishCancer.
This year for the first time, a team of visually impaired runners will compete in the relay. Ten runners — including Paralympians, Iron Man triathletes and 100-mile ultramarathoners — make up the “United in Stride” team. Each will run alongside a sighted guide.
Kaiser Permanente eye surgeon Dr. Vivienne Hau and blind veteran Richard Hunter organized the team to help the visually-impaired enjoy outdoor running and bring awareness to the need for sighted running guides.
The top women’s team in Hood to Coast last year, “Goats and Roses,” was putting final touches on preparations Thursday night. The team finished 12th out of more than 1,000 teams in 2018 but their accomplishment went unnoticed by race organizers: awards were only given to the overall top 3 teams.
Starting this year, female teams will be recognized on the podium.
Aside from the sheer achievement of completing the relay, Goats and Roses makes safety a priority. All 12 female runners will be running on busy roads and highways often alone and in the dark.
Traffic and safety concerns
Drivers who plan on passing through areas affected by the relay should take extra caution and expect possible delays. The Hawthorne Bridge will experience one of the worst bottlenecks for runners and drivers alike on Friday afternoon.
Runners should be extra cautious on Highway 30. With Cornelius Pass Road currently closed for construction, more heavy trucks and traffic will be using Highway 30 at all hours.
State and local law officers will be staged throughout the course but drivers are responsible for slowing down when approaching runners on shoulders. Support vans should also be given extra room.
The KOIN 6 Newshounds team includes weekend anchor Emily Burris.