It would be virtually impossible to present the 197-mile relay race that gives Christoph Baadens Hood to Coast its title as anything like a coherent, easy-to-follow sporting event: The contest involves a thousand teams of 12 runners each, pounding the pavement from Oregons Mount Hood to the Pacific. Baaden focuses on four squads, but even with that narrowed fieldand even while documenting their efforts over the 24-hour race with frequent use of mapsone never gets a sense of the competitors progress. More important to Baadens concerns are the personal storiesin particular the unexpected and recent death of a young man that galvanized his family to compete in tribute to him, and the return to action of a 67-year-old racer who collapsed and nearly died in the previous years contest. Because the runners standings in the race are never really established, and are largely beside the point, the film keeps cutting back to these increasingly sentimentalized accounts of hardship overcome, thus making the project resemble less a thrilling sports telecast than the bathetic human-interest segments that often precede them.
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