I was already planning to do an orienteering event at Battle Ground Lake State Park at 11:00a on Saturday, so when a friend reminded me about the Bigfoot Fun Run at 8:00a in Yacolt that same morning I couldn’t pass up the lucky opportunity to do both.
The road from Battle Ground to Yacolt is a beautiful forested jaunt along the Lewis River. I was pretty confident I was on the right track, but it was a relief to finally see a road sign saying “Yacolt 3”.
The city of Yacolt is surrounded by thickly wooded hills, and the mist-draped forest setting made it easy for the cryptozoologist in me to imagine the possibility of elusive, hirsute, ape-like creatures, with size 49 tootsies lurking in the brush, allowing themselves to be glimpsed just often enough to keep their legend alive.
Once I arrived in town, the runners emerging from their cars and milling around, the registration tables next to City Hall, and the Huber Timing start/finish arch made it easy to locate the race site.
A bib number with timing chip, a generous swag bag filled with coupons and other goodies, and a cool race shirt with a great Sasquatch graphic were all included in the $30 entry fee. A course map was also provided to each runner, a very nice touch that all races should consider.
Bigfoot himself was there in running shorts to greet the runners and get his photo taken (with feet like that, he must go through a case of Tinactin a week!). One man wore a shirt that said “Bigfoot saw me and nobody believes him”. The race was just the first event of a whole weekend of bigfoot-related festivities in Yacolt, so there was a palpable Sasquatch vibe surrounding the whole start area.
The 5k and 10k races started at the same time under overcast skies, with a countdown from the race director, and a wave of the arm from bigfoot. The runners were led out by a three-wheeled motorcycle with a rear end shaped like a scaled-down ’50s Chevy Bel Air (I later learned that a trike show was one of the town’s events).
In the first couple blocks we runners asked each other which distance we were running. To my relief, the young guy next to me was running the 10k, and we ran together through town and along the tree-lined country roads until I reached the 5k turnaround.
The course was well-staffed with volunteers, and the runners were friendly and encouraging. One young woman was setting a very brisk pace but still took a few breaths to tell me “Good job” as we passed. The course was T-shaped, with two out-and-back sections, the second of which led us out up a slight hill. It was a relief to reach the turnaround and know we had downhill and just about 1.5 miles left.
I exchanged cheers with another young guy, who I later found out was running his first-ever race. You would never have known it, based on his quick pace and confident stride! He ended up finishing 2nd overall in the 5k, for an impressive debut.
The Bel Air trike led us back into town, over the railroad tracks, and around the final city block back to the finish, where Sasquatch was waiting to give finishers a high five. A less hairy volunteer with smaller feet was also there to hand out finisher’s medals.
The 10k winner came across the line with one of his shoes in his hand, his laces having come untied with a couple miles to go. He opted to run half-shoeless rather than take the time to stop and tie his laces. Now that’s dedication! Two words of advice for the future though: double knots!
Bountiful refreshments included bananas, oranges, bagels, and even broccoli and carrots! Gatorade and Sunny Delight helped quench our thirst. A list of bib numbers on the registration table identified the winners of the raffle prizes. Awards for the top three men and women in each race included running store gift cards, gift certificates for scenic tours on the local steam train, and trophies that someone joked were big enough to allow the winners to drive in the carpool lane!
The Bigfoot Fun Run was one of those great small-town festival races that provide an excellent value for the entry fee. A parade followed at noon, along with the many other activities.
Results of both races can be found here: http://www.hubertiming.com/results/2014Bigfoot10k