A classic Time-Speed-Distance road rally

Seashells at the Seashore

By Monte & Victoria Saager
May 14, 2022

An enthusiastic group of ralliers ran the 57th anniversary Mountains to the Sea Rally on May 14. Three of the teams were first-time ralliers. All the finishers had a great time and went home happy, with dash plaques and painted sand dollars, and many with award plaques. The first overall winning team took home the perpetual trophy, again.

About the rally
Rallymasters Monte and Victoria Saager laid out a scenic fun-to-drive route that crossed the Columbia River -- twice.  The rally started in northwest Portland and ended in Seaside, a drive of almost 200 miles taking about six and half hours. The route traveled north into Washington, stopping briefly at the Fargher Lake Historic Store and the Cedar Creek Grist Mill and Covered Bridge.
After a lunch transit through Longview, ralliers crossed the Columbia River and headed through Clatskanie, on roads less traveled, to the Jewel Wildlife Viewing Area for afternoon break. Then it was on to the finish, crossing Youngs Bay and following the Lewis and Clark River to Seaside.

About the ralliers
The first place Novice team of Lee Nielsen and Chuck Winkler had an interesting experience. They maxed a leg and couldn’t figure out why. Then they arrived at the Grist Mill restart point long before any other rally cars, and they shouldn’t have been the first to get there. Turns out they misread a 20-minute pause at the Fargher Lake Store as a 20-second pause. Even so, first Novice. 

Graham and Wendy Lunny, a first-timer team from Alberta, Canada, shared they just retired, that running a road rally was on their bucket list, they found this event on Facebook, and drove here just to run the Mountains to the Sea Rally. They finished second place in the Novice class.

One rally team failed to finish the event due to a flat tire. With assistance from a local, they were able to get the flat off and the replacement on. But Bob Morseburg and Cheri Eddy opted for home on their space-saver tire rather than the twisty windy rally route.


Rally teams await the start of the second half of the rally from the viewpoint outside Rainier overlooking Longview.

What the rallymasters said

It’s a lot of work putting together a 200-mile road rally course. It takes a lot of time, scouting out a route that uses less traveled roads, that are paved and that connect to one another, generally in the direction you are heading. Added bonus if the route is scenic and includes some fun to drive bits.

For this year’s M2C, we started with a concept, the basic flow through the areas we wanted to use. We knew ways to connect the areas into a contiguous route. But that all takes time and miles.

Time was in short supply because, in addition to being Geargrinders Chair, we were the rallymasters for the first three rallies of the season before M2C. Miles could be a challenge because we have an electric car. So while we don’t suffer from range anxiety, we are aware of and carefully plan around distance. So…25 miles to the start location, 200 miles to drive the route to Seaside (not counting exploratory journeys to check out route opportunities), then 70 miles home. That’s almost 300 miles. Although our car may, when fully charged in warm weather, show close to 300 miles range, we would be more comfortable having at least a 20-mile buffer, especially when considering our route would cross the Coast Range twice.

We found we could work on the morning section and drive home from Longview with miles to spare. Or we could work on the afternoon section and get home again just in time to plug in. Driving the entire rally route in one day required a layover of about an hour at the Electrify America fast charger in Kelso. That boosted our miles enough to complete the rally route and get home with a few miles to spare.

There are three times before rally day when the entire route must be driven, beginning to end, all in one day. The first time is when the course is measured and the GPS checkpoints are set. The second time is after the measurements have been entered into the calculations spreadsheet, and the leg times have been calculated and entered into the Richta Rallymaster app. The rallymasters drive through the rally course, using the Richta Competitor app, making sure the GPS checkpoints are set and functioning properly, verifying that the speeds are not set too fast or too slow, and checking that the leg times seem to be calculated accurately (e.g., did Monte get good leg scores). We’re also doing a last check to make sure signs and other references used in the route instructions are visible and spelled correctly. The third and final time is one week before the event, the checkout or sometimes referred to as the guineapig. This is the official last time through the entire route, running with the same route instructions and supporting information that the contestants will use on rally day. Again the Richta Competitor app is used by the guineapig teams to verify calculations and ensure speeds and pauses are set appropriately.

Just before our second drive through, our external odometer stopped registering distance. This is only a problem if you need to verify GPS checkpoint locations and official mileage references. So it was a problem. We needed a functioning thousandth reading odometer. Long and short, we completed the second drive through without the odometer. Then after more trouble shooting, an overnight part shipment, and an emergency repair, we were finally able to run the final course checkout with a functioning odometer -- on the Tuesday before the rally. Whew!

Added to the time pressure was Victoria’s decision to distribute painted sand dollars to all the rally teams. They, too, were completed just in time.

Congratulations to the top finishers

First overall and first in SOP was the recently wed team of Marcus and Kerrie Gattman with a score of 155 - that's an average of just under 4 seconds error per leg over the 39 legs in the event. Second overall and second SOP was the parental unit David and JoAnn Gattman with a score of 182. (We heard there was some family competition between these two teams.) Third overall and first in the Equipped category was the team of Sue and Bill Colisch with a score of 237.

Honorable mention goes to the third place SOP team of Angelique and Kevin Ortega with a score of 251 and the first Novice team of Lee Nielsen and Chuck Winkler with a score of 253. Also notable is the tie for fourth SOP between the teams of Bill and Kelly Ferber and Dave and Kathy Sacry, both teams with a final score of 276.

The top three teams in each class won award plaques and the first place overall team took the perpetual trophy home (again). Congratulations to all!

Click here for Rally Results


Mountains to the Sea through the years - an ongoing chronicle


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