Among all the runners I know (thankfully, a whole bunch!), I am one, if not the only one, of them who have never participated in an Uberthons racing event. A while ago, I envisioned Uberthons events as great big ‘parties’, with little running or racing substance. After a fellow Run Oregon Blogger encouraged me to take a fresh look at the Uberthons race scene, I immediately became enthralled in the concept; get out and run, be active with fellow runners, get super nice bling (finisher medals), receive a nearly instant print out of your results, and enjoy an awesome post-race food spread. Having this new outlook on Uberthons, I stepped in to write a race preview for the Uberthons Oregon Spring Half, which occurred Saturday, May 3. When writing the race preview, I did not plan on racing in the event, but sure wanted to after compiling the information. I was super bummed envisioning that my race calendar did not look like it would accommodate this run … but little did I know that everything would quickly change.
Thursday, May 1 was just like any other day. Up early in the morning and off to work. I received word that a registration opportunity for the Oregon Spring Half was available if I didn’t have any plans on Saturday, May 3, the day of the race. Reviewing my calendar, May 3 was open, so I jumped in head-first to take advantage of getting my registration in for this event! Hooray!
Knowing that I could not drive from Eugene to Tualatin on Friday to pick-up my race packet in advance, I planned to arrive at St. Josef Winery, in Canby, Oregon, which was the site of the start and finish line, 30 minutes prior to the 8:30 a.m. start time. Parking was effortless, which I sincerely appreciate, as this is the first interaction most of us get with how the race is potentially organized throughout. If parking is stressful, what else is in store for us? Parking was super easy for the Oregon Spring Half. Participants parked their vehicles in a low-grass, slightly bumpy field. No mud to squish through or getting your vehicle stuck with this one!
There was a short walk from the parking area to the packet pick-up area, which was located inside of St. Josef Winery. Packet pick-up lines were super short, and I expeditiously had my packet, which included my bib and timing chip, also with my tech shirt. With my registration, I had selected a women’s extra-small size, but only women’s small sizing was left. No worry, the women’s size shirts were running a bit small, while the men’s sizing was running quite roomy. The shirts look incredible!
I walked back to my car to drop off my shirt and get my bib clipped on. There were two porta-potties at the start line for participants (the cap for the race was 300 participants), and the lines were super long, so I decided to head to the start line area to listen to the race announcements.
The race announcements were very entertaining. In fact, the most entertaining I have ever experienced at a race; yes, even more entertaining than the Rock and Roll themed events. The race announcements included introducing the advisory board working on the Oregon Marathon event, which is an Uberthons event occurring Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Mt. Angel, Oregon (during Oktoberfest weekend!). Tung Yin, fellow Run Oregon Blogger, is on the board! Congratulations, Tung!
When 8:30 a.m. arrived, the start of the race, the announcer took his microphone and jumped into the Uberthons Smart car to lead-out the super-fast racers. That was pretty cool, I must admit. We were all off after the fast racers sprung from the start line. I settled into a cool 9:30-9:45 mpm (minute per mile) pace. The weather was cloudy and windy, so I wasn’t worried about overheating. The first mile included a mild downhill with a mild-ish uphill which certainly got the heart rate going right from the start.
The first ~3 miles were pretty uneventful after the dips at the start – no significant hills of any kind. Upon closing in on the aid station and medical station around mile 3, we were greeted with another hill. At this point, I did overhear some racers passing me (I always walk through aid stations to give myself a 20-30 second rest while I consume my aid) mentioning the hills were a bit much; more than they expected, as the course was billed as flat. Being a fairly experienced runner, I always take comments about a race course being flat pretty tongue in cheek – especially winery races – as hills/dips are inevitable, especially in Oregon, right?
There were two areas on the course where we did out-and-backs along super quiet back roads. I like these, as I appreciate seeing the other runners who are either in front or behind where I am on the course. I love waving and saying hello to all the Half Fanatics out there, too (I am Half Fanatic #2635, by the way).
About the middle point of the race, around mile 7-ish, there was a super-duper hill that required me to walk up (seriously legit hill). While walking, this was really where the comments about the course having hills were coming from racers passing me. One lady nearing the finish line was even cursing under her breath about the hills. More about the hills in a minute.
Upon nearing the finish line, you could hear names being called out as finishers crossed the line, and cheers from tons of people along the road to the winery. The finish line was just inside the entrance to St. Josef Winery, and it was lined with Uberthons banners making it very welcoming. Active finish lines are great; seeing all the people, the flair, the race stuff … love it. H.U.G.E. and H.E.A.V.Y. finisher medals were handed out after being handed a crisp, cold bottle of water. Medical staff were at the finish line in case you needed their services. Then, the “famous” Uberthons computer where you can enter your bib number to get nearly-instant results printed out. This was very neat!
The finish line festivities included more medical personnel able to help participants, a live musician (who even played a couple of Eagles songs – cool!), massage therapists, wine tasting and wine available for purchase from St. Josef Winery, and then the fabulous post-race food! The Oregon Spring Half food was catered by Qdoba Mexican restaurant, and included all the fixins for a proper Mexican style meal. The food was plentiful and wonderful, no shortage of replenishment available for racers! Thank you!
Okay, so back to the course and these hills. Yes, there were plenty of hills – four that I remember clearly. Yes, some of them were pretty steep and required walking for some of us. However, I don’t believe the course was advertised inappropriately. I was not flat. However, the Portland Marathon course is not flat, either, but many consider it to be so. Also, I think the hills added a certain mental stimuli to the race that would have not been there had there been no hills; the course, minus the hills, was super-super-super flat. Flat road racing is not my shtick, so if it truly would have been flat, I would have been bored. Even with all the cows, sheep, mountains, flowers, and other lovely sights that were available on the course to look at. Check out the details of the course we all traveled.
Quick Wrap-up: The Oregon Spring Half, taking place on Saturday, May 3, at St. Josef Winery in Canby, Oregon was an A+ event. The finisher medal was incredible. The tech shirt was amazing. Parking was effortless. Packet pick-up was fast. The race started on time. Aid stations were stocked and plentiful along the course (along with medical personnel and porta-potties along the course). The finish line was coordinated and organized. Finish line food and entertainment was fabulous. Excellent job, Uberthons – you have converted me to be a major fan of Uberthon events!