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Race Preview: Bald Peak Half Marathon

bald-peak-halfThere is a race out there that has been calling my name for the past few years, yet still strikes a little bit of fear in my heart. I am determined to tackle this race - the Bald Peak Half Marathon in 2014. For a variety of reasons, I have been unable (due to vacations) or  unwilling (due to being out of shape) to run this in year's past - but not this year. Here is what I have to look forward to.

This race has been recapped by a Run Oregon blogger in year’s past, so let me highlight a few comments from them:

Driving up to Hagg’s Tree Farm where the race began, I gulped as I ascended a giant mile-long hill. “They wouldn’t dare make us run up this thing, would they?”

bald-peak-half-picture2Actually, the answer to that question is yes. There is actually an 800 foot elevation gain over the first two miles of the race – a definite challenge to even the most athletic runner.

Finally after the aid station at mile 2.5 our hard work paid off in the form of flat stretches, downhills, and stunning scenery. The rain painted the fields and trees a brilliant green. With such a small field and little traffic on the back roads of the Willamette Valley, we practically had the roads to ourselves. Though I was never out of sight from a fellow runner, I felt very much at peace as I climbed and descended, greeted dogs and horses, and traveled along tree-lined gravel roads.

I have driven this area a bunch of times as I went to visit my brother in college in Forest Grove. I can honestly admit that this area is really quite beautiful – a rural and scenic area a stones throw from the suburban cities below.

Miles 2-7 were very rolling, winding, often on gravel roads, either going up or going down with no really flat stretches.  The course continued to be very challenging through this section…The second half of the run is noticeably less rolling and flattens out in some sections, and the downhill sections here are much more prevalent.  There is a nice straight section for almost two miles.  My splits from miles 8-12 were quite a bit faster than any from the first 7 miles…Remember that hill that made me cringe as I drove to the start? They decided that would be a great place to put the last mile before the finish line. Knowing that the end and pancakes were just at the top of this incline, I pushed my way up, up, up. Still running, my steps were minute and I felt like I was on a treadmill going nowhere.

I am not posting this to scare people off – quite the opposite actually. Many of us out there run a variety of flat road races – and while those are great, it is often nice to try out something different, something challenging, something that will push you to the brink and let you feel amazing for having completed it. THIS is that race. Check out a full course map here (that final climb is 300 feet in the last 1/2 mile by the way).

bald-peak-half-picture

A quick note on other logistics: parking was easy and there was plenty of room to park, there were no real lines for either race day packet pickup / registration or for bathrooms, and there was fun music at the start of the race.  The course isn’t a closed course, but compared to other races I’ve run – the drivers that passed me were all very friendly.

This race may just be in its third year, but it has really been one ran with extremely positive reviews despite the difficulty. I know the RD’s and they are truly interested in putting on a great race geared towards the runner. Their hard work has shown with their increase in registration from 93 to 148 in just one year. This race will benefit the Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division, helping to provide food and clothing to Portland area families since 1923.

Follow the race on Facebook here too.

Bald Peak Half Marathon (Hillsboro)
When: 730a on June 21, 2014
Where: Hagg’s Tree Farm (18175 SW McCormick Hill Road)
Register: Online here; $55 though 3/31/14, $65 4/1 until DOR; includes tech shirt, medal, and pancake breakfast

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About Matt Rasmussen (1318 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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