There is a certain appeal to hometown races, doing an event in an area that you normally train in. It removes some of the unknowns and adds some other benefits like making it easier for friends and family to spectate and allowing you to sleep in as there is no commute involved. Seeing as the town in question is McMinnville, about 45 minutes south of downtown Portland, the size is a nice break from the congested races. Scenic, relatively fast courses, great support, and a upbeat atmosphere make this one a spring favorite.
First off, this is a charity run, and the beneficiary is the McMinnville Montessori School. It starts and ends at Discovery Meadows Park, on the south end of town. Here is a tip, if arriving from the north on 99W, use the Highway 18 bypass. If you get off at the second McMinnville exit, and take a right, you would continue straight through two lighted intersections, take a right at a stop sign (Fellows St), and at the next stop sign would be the school where it is easiest to park. In previous years they have set aside the park parking area for the race staff and volunteers. After the race, there is also a kids fun run that encircles a baseball field.
The event date is April 26th, and the 5K/10K start at 9 am. DOE registration begins at 7:30, but you can also register online here. Entry fees are $32 for adults (either race), or $15 for those under 18. That fee includes a shirt as well for those registering ahead of time, optimally by March 26th. Shirts are not guaranteed after that date. DOE price is the same, just will not include a shirt.
The 5K course is almost completely flat, just going over a few grades at it approaches the street from the sidewalk. It starts by crossing the park and then enters a residential area. It then traverses a somewhat windy sidewalk in a park setting, crossing a few streets. It actually passes right in front of my house and finishes back on the residential streets before crossing the original park again to finish. This course definitely has ‘pr potential’, not very many turns and no major climbs.
The 10K makes a slightly different start on the streets after the park, then joins up again with the 5K for a couple blocks. There are a couple small hill as it heads north on a narrow street, and after a quick right it continues to head north on a flat straight stretch. The middle section of the race is a mild downhill with a great view of the outskirts and then it heads back south through a park on a sidewalk. There is a good sized hill after you leave the park, at about mile 4, that has a long descent. After that, it is about 3 turns to the finish back through the residential area it starts in. I would also rate this as a fast course, if you are strong on the big hill.
This is one of my favorite races of the year, and definitely has the best course in town. There are only a few local races to choose from, and if I was pressed to choose only one, this would be it. They improve the event every year, and it is put on very well. Volunteers are friendly and well trained, so packet pickup and the actual race are generally smooth. This one also holds a personal significance to me, as I paced my fiancee the final mile and a half of the 10K last year and helped her get from third to 1st woman, her first win ever. For those who live in the surrounding area, this event is worth the drive, as the environment is different from big town races. It is definitely a nice change and a literal breath of fresh air to run so far from a big city.