What a difference a year makes! For the second year in a row, I ran the Run for the White Oak Savanna 5K. Last year, it was overcast and drizzly, so much so that at one point, the race organizers had to scramble to cover the registration forms from the downpour.
This year, April 13 was bright and sunny, an ideal Sunday morning for the third year in a row of a track race whose proceeds benefit a local effort to acquire the 20 acres of the White Oak Savanna in West Linn and turn them into a natural park and wildlife habitat.
The track location was the Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn. There was ample parking in the school lot, and the only other people there on that morning were Ultimate (frisbee) players warming up in the middle of the field. The 5K race started at 9 a.m. with about 35 runners, and was followed by a 1 mile walk at 10 a.m. (which drew about 20 walkers).
A little after 9 a.m., we headed over to the far side of the track where cones marked the starting line. (The track at Rosemont must be 1/4 mile, as opposed to 400 meters, because the starting line wasn’t at the halfway mark of the straightaway, but slightly beyond that.) One of the race volunteers raised his arm straight in the air and, synchronizing with the large race clock on the other side of the track, dropped his arm to start us off.
I started off in lane 4 behind a group of adolescent runners, but I squeezed past them quickly and took the lead, which I managed to hold for a grand total of about 1/8 of a mile before the eventual winner (Rudy P.) passed me.
If you like chasing people, or if you like the adrenaline rush of being chased, then a track race is for you. A 5K, of course, takes 12 full laps plus that extra bit at the start, so you see the same people over . . . and over . . . and over.
I quickly fell behind Rudy, and for the rest of the race, I traded second, third, or fourth place with twin teenaged runners. I thought I had them beaten with about 3/4 of a mile left, but my 10th lap was my worst one (1:50, or a 7:20 pace), and I dropped back to fourth. I picked it up a little on the 11th lap (1:44, or a 6:56 pace), and finished with a 1:34 lap (6:16 pace), which left me just a few steps behind the twin in the gray sweatshirt and a few steps ahead of his brother. The overall winner finished in 19:21.
After all the runners finished, race director Roberta Schwarz announced the age group winners, who then got to choose from the prizes. For a small local race, this one has gotten some really nice donations, including a couple of Columbia Sportswear jackets, Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificates, Nike gym bags, a free pair of shoes from Keen’s, and other gear. (Psst, keep an eye on this race next year — one of the age group winners was the only one in her age group, so she literally had no competition!)
In all, the event generated over $1500 for the White Oak Savanna. (This wasn’t the only fundraising event for this cause: Updated list of fun White Oak Savanna benefit events for 2014 )
Postscript: After the race, my wife and kids and I went to the Oregon Zoo, and guess who I bumped into — race winner Rudy and a few of the other racers!