Embarking on the Hood to Coast Relay Journey: A Team Captain’s Perspective

If someone told me 2 years ago that I’d be leading a team on the famed Hood to Coast Relay, I’d have probably laughed. Yet, fast forward to today, and here I am, recollecting the exhilarating experience of this incredible relay race with my squad.

The Hood to Coast Attraction

For the uninitiated, Hood to Coast is a staggering 197-mile relay race, spanning from Mt. Hood to Seaside in Oregon. The route is fragmented into 36 ‘legs’ with 12 runners, essentially turning into a rhythm of 6 runners handing off to the next 6 at “major exchanges.”

Now, you might wonder, “Why opt for this after completing four marathons?” Simple. Marathons test individual strength, but Hood to Coast? It’s a game of strategy, teamwork, and meticulous logistics.

Here are my first-time Captain Tips:

  • Teammate Selection is Crucial: It’s like choosing comrades for a mission. You’ll be cooped up with these folks for at least 30 hours, so ensure they’re as enthusiastic and team-oriented as you.


  • Clear Team Objectives: Understand and communicate your aspirations. Are you aiming for the podium, or is it more about soaking in the scenic beauty of Oregon?

  • Branding is Gold: Don’t underestimate the power of a team identity. Our pirate-themed branding for the ‘Atlanta Rogue Running Group’ was a hit. Also, decorating your van isn’t just tradition – it’s practically helpful to identify your van from a distance.


  • Logistics After the Race: Seaside has limited transportation, so plan your post-race stay and return. We opted for AirBnBs in Gearhart to rejuvenate and then fly back.

  • Training is Key: Surprisingly, the run itself was the least of our concerns, thanks to our rigorous training sessions, simulating the relay intervals.

  • Get to the Exchange Early: You don’t want to be the runner that held up your entire team. We only had 2 missed hand-offs. In both cases, the previous runner ran a lot faster than expected. In both cases, the next runner was dressed, ready-to-go and ran to the exchange as fast as possible.

  • Delegate Tasks: As the captain, you don’t need to shoulder everything. Divvy up responsibilities like design, accommodation bookings, and flight planning among teammates.

  • Accommodation Strategy: Considering affordability and convenience, we chose the Quality Inn in Gresham, an hour from the race start. Bonus: No additional parking fees!

  • Timing Calculations: Once you know your start time, this spreadsheet can help map out your strategy and timing seamlessly. Make a copy of this spreadsheet that automatically calculates exchange times based on your start time and runner paces.

The Finish Line

Hood to Coast 2023 wasn’t just another race. It was an adventure, an experience, and a test of team spirit. Despite being first-timers, our squad managed an impressive 14th place in our category. The journey was packed with adrenaline, team spirit, and memories that will last a lifetime.

A huge shoutout to my incredible team. Here’s to more adventures on the horizon!

Caroline Dunn is an experienced marketing executive combining her natural leadership ability and engineering education in marketing communications, content marketing, social media, and product management. She has a proven track record in exceeding sales objectives, leading execution teams, and campaign management.

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