A newcomer race recap: The Better Series Helvetia Half


Todd Prior is a young professional who lives in the Portland area. He loves cooking, hiking, and most recently over the past couple of years, running. The Better Series Helvetia Half was his very first half. He kindly agreed to share his experience with me for a recap. Here is Todd’s experience in his own words, prompted by just a few questions from me:

This was an amazing run, around 1,600 total participants, with a massive age swing.  I was running with just as many AARP members as high school seniors, parents, etc.  The crowd was so much fun to run with.  Many times you’d dip into a conversation as others passed you or vice versa.  For a first 10k or a starter 10k for your season it’s great, limited hills and fantastic infrastructure to keep you going.  As a half marathon, realize it is challenging, yet completely achievable.  Don’t expect a PR on this race.

You will have enough support on this one.  If you are like me and prefer to consume carbs while running at a set time, do yourself a favor and bring your own (as per usual).  They had Clif Gel at mile 6.5, and that is really it.  They had electrolyte drink which some folks like. Yes, I’m picky.  But if you are as well, then make sure you did what I did and bring your own.

So far it sounded like a great race. I then asked Todd to highlight the good parts and then maybe some of the not so good parts, if any.


 I loved running past the freshly cut hay fields, the smell was fantastic! 

If you forgot to carb load for the race, they had enough for you to waddle through the start line, you name it, they had it by the truckload.

Bathrooms!!!  You had more bathrooms than you could imagine.  The stadium had them all open, and a couple dozen porta-potties.  Really welcome benefit.

The parking was easy as can be.  Also, anyone being dropped off would be 100 yards from the starting line.

There were some great spots where you passed the faster runners going back around the 6.5-7.5 mile range, the area where the hills were the roughest seemed to have a high amount of traffic, making you feel like you could make it (you were not alone where you needed it most).  Mentally it helped as almost everyone I spoke to remarked on the slight changes from last year and how it made the event more challenging. 

Visually some of the hills seem rougher than they were – the first big one makes you go downhill and then straight back up, the church group on the top of that hill could not have been placed better as an aid station. 

The volunteers were fantastic, really fun; enjoying the day and seemed to be everywhere I needed some support.

Most of the local households were all out cheering us on (lots of kids were giving out high-fives and I was giving them right back!). 

The burger was great (but isn’t everything great after running hard?), if you have never made it to the Helvetia Tavern, go.  They are good people and hook you up right.

The medals and water were waiting for you steps after the race, people had smiles on their faces, welcoming you back to standing still.


One issue with the end of the race was simple but it did matter to me: The burgers were outside the stadium and you could not bring your beer out there and conversely you did not know where it (the burger) would be (lack of signage on that one), so net result  was me pounding that delicious IPA so I could grab my burger….  Sounds silly but I wanted both (in fact I was fantasizing about it from mile 10 on…). 

They had the Jumbotron showing the finishers, (i.e. you) and to be honest, I would prefer to never see myself at the end of a run again.  Some people may look like gazelles gliding across the finish line, I realized I look like an Orc with a limp.  Lessoned learned, only look up to see yourself before the race.

The shirt is WAY too loud.  Bright yellow writing on a stop sign red shirt with the logo covering every inch of your torso……  Perhaps toning it down a bit so I could wear it and not be visible on Google maps would be great.

Awesome Todd! Can you you sum it all up in one sentence?

Based on my experience this year, I’ll be an early entrant next year looking to top this years’ time!