Portland to Coast is mission accomplished

August 31, 2005

The HRVHS Runnin’ Eagles was the 50th team to register for the 2005 Portland to Coast High School Challenge. The race would only accept 50 entries.

The Runnin’ Eagles set out at sunrise Friday morning on their trek from Portland to Seaside as part of the world’s largest relay race — the Hood to Coast relay. Jennifer Hanners started first, lined up with 50 other first-leg runners under the Hawthorne Bridge. About 125 miles later Joel Miller crossed the finish line in Seaside.

The team of 12 runners was: Jennifer Hanners, Ashley Braniff, Hillary Hilden, Melissa Kauffman, Kayla Lloyd, Janne Lucas, Julio Avila, Joel Miller, Leo Castillo, Carlos Quintana, Alex Van Slyke, and Anthony Walden.

“It was a last-minute thing,” commented cross-country coach Kristin Uhler. “It was meant to be a fun, team-building experience. Our goal was not to compete; instead we approached it like running two 4-7 mile tempo runs each. It’s a festive event but with a great workout. We got some quality miles in and we bonded as a team. That was our goal.”

Although not focused on winning the relay, the team of upcoming Eagle cross-country runners averaged almost eight miles-an-hour to finish in 16 hours, 21.34 seconds: good enough for 14th place out of 50 overall and seventh place out of 26 in the mixed-team division.

The Portland to Coast High School Challenge started on leg 13 of the Hood to Coast Relay. From the urban setting of downtown Portland, runners made their way down the Willamette River (north) on Highway 30 to St. Helens, where they turned west and ran into the dank coastal rainforest, up the mountains, past towns like Mist and Jewel, back downhill and into Seaside to the finish line.

“We had a great time together,” Uhler said. “I’m excited for the season and for the opportunity to work with these athletes and get to know their parents. We have some great, intelligent, hard working and fun athletes. I stress the word athletes because in order to be a competitive runner in the Intermountain Conference you must be a real athlete.”

The group made their trip in vans donated by the Mid-Columbia Center for Living, wearing gear sponsored by Shortt Supply and with the help of the Eagles’ Athletic Department.

The HRVHS cross-country team’s opening race is set for Sept. 9 at Hermiston, followed by their first home meet of the season, the Skip Sparks Invitational, on Sept. 14.

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