There are a handful of classic and historic races that are tightly bound up in the identity of their host cities: The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Bolder Boulder in Colorado, The Cherry Blossom in Washington DC, The Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, and of course the Boston Marathon are just a few examples. Though not as famous as its big brothers, The Pear Blossom Run in Medford is just as important a part of its community. A tradition since 1977, the race has become a fixture and a source of pride for the entire Rogue Valley.
Though light on frills, “The Pear”, as it’s affectionately known, is extremely well-organized and brings out some very formidable competition. Historically, the shirts have always been attractive, vary from year to year, and always incorporated the classic running pears logo (though they usually lacked the year, making a “My Life In Race Shirts” Pear Blossom installment unlikely, since I can’t remember which shirts match which race!) This year’s shirt includes the year, though, so that should no longer be an issue.
The 10-mile course is a well-designed out-and-back that starts and finishes in front of City Hall, while leading runners on a city-to-country tour of Medford and its rural outskirts. While generally flat, there is a good hill just before (and again after) the turn-around, which provides a nice landmark. Besides a two-block section at the start and finish, the course is basically a large L shape, so be prepared for some long straight sections. The gradual transition from town to country (and back) helps you forget the distance though, as long as you restrain yourself from looking too far down the road.
Few races are as well stocked with friendly and enthusiastic volunteers, with various community groups staffing the aid stations. Keep your eyes and ears out especially for the loud and encouraging school group a couple miles in. And don’t worry about getting lost: with all the helpful course marshals lining the road at the corners and turnaround there is no danger whatsoever of going astray.
My grandparents lived in the Medford area, and for several years I combined a visit to them with a running of The Pear. Many of my favorite race memories were forged at this great community event.
What: The 38th annual Pear Blossom Run
When: Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Where: Downtown Medford, at the corner of 8th and Oakdale
What time: 5k: 7:00, Mile: 7:50, 10-miler: 8:20, 2-mile: 8:30
Registration: You can register online HERE. The 5k is $17, the 10-miler is $23, and the mile or 2-mile (or both!) are $7. All prices are without shirt.