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Distance runner hopes to raise $300,000 through World Vision for his native Sudan

by: JOHN HOCH - Lake Oswego's Lopez Lomong is running the Hood to Coast Relay this weekend to raise money for his home country of South Sudan.Two-time American Olympian and former South Sudanese refugee Lopez Lomong will lead a group of five Hood to Coast teams, with a goal of raising more than $300,000 for World Vision’s clean water projects in South Sudan. Lomong, a Lake Oswego resident, will be accompanied by four other honorary team captains: Ashton Eaton, Jim Ryun, Andy Baldwin and Jenny Hadfield. Fifty-five amateur runners round out the teams that have already raised more than $200,000.

2012 American Gold medalist Eaton is the world record holder in the decathlon and heptathlon. Ryun is a three-time Olympian with world records in the half-mile, mile and 1,500 meters. Ryun is also a five-term United States congressman from Kansas. Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Baldwin, M.D., board-certified in family medicine, is a U.S. Navy physician, humanitarian, media-personality, eight-time ironman finisher, marathoner and triathlete. Hadfield is coach and columnist for Runners World.

"Team World Vision is proud to partner with Hood to Coast, raising awareness and funds for important causes, and at the same time creating an amazing and unique experience for participants," said Michael Chitwood, national director for Team World Vision. "We have five professional and celebrity runners who will be the honorary team captains for our five teams. Our team of 55 amateur runners have already raised over $200,000 for World Vision's clean water projects in South Sudan. Lopez Lomong, U.S. Olympian and former South Sudanese refugee, has helped us put together five teams of dedicated, passionate Team World Vision runners."

The Providence Hood to Coast Relay is the most popular relay race in the world with nearly 20,000 runners and walkers participating in three events; Hood to Coast Relay, Portland to Coast Walk Relay and Portland to Coast High School Challenge. The Providence Hood to Coast Relay waiting list reaches more than 40,000 potential participants annually. The 2013 event will include runners and walkers from all 50 U.S. states and 39 countries.

"Take World Vision, one of the world's top charities. Add some of the top athletes on the planet, past and present, Olympians and record holders like Jim Ryun, Ashton Eaton and Lopez Lomong. Locate the effort on the race course of Oregon's Hood to Coast, indisputably the greatest relay running event. Focus the effort for one of the globe's greatest causes: desperately needed water resources for the earth's newest nation, South Sudan. Fifty-five amateur runners have sacrificed time, talent and treasure to be part of this effort with a goal of raising over $300,000. Do the math. This is going to be a life-giving relay to remember," said Steve Haas, chief catalyst for World Vision.

In addition to the title sponsors, the gold level sponsors are Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nike, OfficeMax, Safeway and Widmer Brothers Brewing. This year marks the 30th year that Nike has participated in or sponsored the Hood to Coast Relay. Silver sponsors include Chevrolet, Portland Running Company, PowerBar and Rite Aid. Chevrolet will feature the Chevy Volt as the official Hood to Coast start line pace car, while Portland Running Company is the exclusive merchandise partner of the Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast Relays.

The 2013 Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast relays will be held from Aug. 23 to 24. The race stretches from Timberline Lodge to Seaside, where more than 70,000 people will attend the finish line party. Etzel, formerly known as SportsOne, will produce the finish line party. Taylor Hospitality, which operates out of local Portland restaurants Portland Prime and Quartet, is the official caterer of the 2013 and 2014 Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast relays.

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