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Forest Grove-based teams get a chance to shine at annual Hood to Coast Relay

Thousands of runners and walkers made the annual trek from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to Seaside last weekend as part of the 32nd annual Hood to Coast Relay. One team from Forest Grove posted a top-notch finish in the men’s open division, while another won its division in the associated Portland to Coast High School Challenge.

Participating teams in both relays typically consist of 12 members, who run three (full relay) or two (high school relay) alternating legs apiece on the way to Seaside. Relay leg distances range from just over three miles to nearly eight miles in length and vary in terms of difficulty.

Beautiful Speed, a team made up of members of the Forest Grove cross-country squad — save for one volleyball player — bested three other squads in the girls division of the High School Challenge. The team finished the 132-mile course, which started in Portland rather than at Mount Hood, in 18 hours, 31 minutes, 1 second, good for an average pace of 8:26 per mile.

Beautiful Speed, which has now won the girls division at the event three years in a row, knocked off the division runner-up, Tigard-based Crush Hour, by just more than 40 minutes. The squad finished 22nd out of 37 total boys, girls and mixed teams in the High School Challenge.

Julia Khoury got the team up and running for the first time two years ago, in the summer after her freshman year. The senior-to-be said that this year’s team posted an overall time that was faster than that of the 2011 team and about the same as the 2012 team.

Impressively though, Beautiful Speed’s overall time this past weekend would have been even faster if not for some exchange difficulties. Leadoff runner Elissa Anderson, a freshman who had never run the race before, had to wait at the first exchange for about 30 minutes, Khoury said, because there was so much traffic along the route that the team van bearing second leg Ellie Schnorr could not reach the handoff spot to make a timely exchange.

But even the delay could not stop Beautiful Speed. And perhaps the win is a good omen for the season. As Khoury noted, in each of the past two seasons the Vikings have gone on to win the Pacific Conference district title. Forest Grove gears up for its drive for three in a row on Thursday, kicking off the season at the Night Meet in Wilsonville.

Beautiful Speed team members are Julia Khoury (captain), Emilia Anderson, Joelle Bruckert-Frisk, Emily Parker, Elissa Anderson, Rubi Vergara-Grindell, Esther Harris, Alli Fellger, Ellie Schnorr, AnnaLeesa Egg, Jessica Bickford, and Kimberly Heesacker.

The other Forest Grove-based squad, Run Forest, placed fourth in the men’s open division, finishing the 198-mile granddaddy of relays in 23:25:59, less than two minutes slower than the third-place team in the division. University of Portland Alumni took the men’s open win, and finished second place overall, in 18:59:59.

The men of Run Forest averaged a pace of 7:07 per mile, and that fourth-place result came against 213 other teams in the division. Run Forest took 43rd place out of a total of 1,002 teams. BAC Men, a corporate men’s team based in Portland, won in 17:52:00.

This year’s Hood to Coast was the 18th that Run Forest has completed, team member Adrian Shipley said. Other team members are Mat Marin, Mark Ward, Eric Weinbender, Chris Paterson and Marc Roche, all of Forest Grove; Heather Shipley, of Tualatin; Nick Klaumann, of Beaverton; John Gillem, of Salem; Matthew O’Brien, of Ramona, Calif., Ryan Lawrence, of Boulder, Colo.; and Dylan Taylor, of Lawrence, Kansas.

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