Race Preview: 2014 Veterans 5K/10K Family Trail Run/Walk

Happy 4th of July everyone! While today is a day that we think of a day off from work, barbeques, and fireworks, it is important to remember what this is about - remembering the signing of the Declaration of Independence after our fight for freedom with England. Those fighters could be considered our country's first Veterans. That is why this race preview fits in perfectly today. The city of Keizer is once again home to the Veterans 5K/10k Family Trail Run and walk on Saturday, August 16. Last year's event featured solely a 5k and was on a stormy late-September morning. This year, the race will take on a 10k and move up a month for what should be less of a chance for a downpour. They are also bringing in professional chip-timing, a huge step up from the hand timer they used last year.

This race is put on to support Serving Our Veterans at Home (SOVAH). SOVAH is a program that assists veteran’s with the complex benefits system here in Oregon and helping them navigate to maximize their entitlements they have earned from their service. They describe their mission this way:

Our veterans are strong men and women, many of whom are struggling with benefits, healthcare, relationships, or even housing. We are working hard to resolve the issues for our veterans.

I ran in the inaugural event while pushing my 2-year-old in the stroller, and despite the weather and first-time race director, the atmosphere and drive for perfection was definitely there. I can clearly see this by the major improvements they are seeking out this year.

Once again, the event is starting at Keizer Rapids Park. This park is less than a quarter-mile from my door, and the 10k will actually essentially be through my neighborhood! The first 2.1 miles will circle around the park’s paved and bark trails under both the open sky and the large tree canopy. Having walked and ran in this park many, many times, you can expect a very flat and well maintained running surface. Following that initial run, the rest of the jaunt will be on paved road through my West Keizer Neighborhood.

Besides supporting a great cause, every runner will get a string bag with goodies inside and a race shirt. There will be a water station at mile two and also refreshments at the finish line with energy bars. There will be mile markers along the course and dogs are allowed to accompany you. If your dog is not tired enough after the race (or you want to tire it out before the race) there is a large fenced dog park on-site that is sure to be a hit with your little buddy. There will also be awards for the top three male and top three female finishers.

The starting area was at the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater and there was plenty of room in all directions for stretching out and getting ready. There were also a variety of pop-up tents sprinkled throughout the  which was a foreboding to the race.

veterans 5k trail.jpg
Here is some highlights from my running of the of the 2013 event:

There were a lot of families decked out in race shirts happy to cruise through the park together. I have run in a wide range of races, and races like these just put things into perspective.

The course featured a wide range of terrains – the first of which was a mile of well paved walking trails. There was a loop around the boat launch area and the open field in the SE corner of the park before we hit the canopy of trees that flank the Willamette River.

The paved path gave way to a dirt and small gravel path following mile 1. My daughter didn’t seem to mind the change over to the more uneven path even though it took her a few head smacks to the side of the stroller to figure out how she needed to settle herself in. There was a small water station before heading past the Disc Golf parking area.

After a quick section on gravel road, the terrain turned into a single lane dirt trail. While it was well maintained, it did feature a few tree roots and a few down and up hills that slowed up me and the stroller. I found the trail to be well-marked with orange markers and paint, but I did overhear afterwards that a few people took the wrong path at a few forks.

Following the jaunt through the forested trail, we were spit out onto more gravel, but this time the rocks were much bigger and caused some stroller navigation issues. We were passed by a few runners along this medium stretch leading up to mile 2. The final surge before returning to the paved path was an extremely short, yet steep up and down hill that was definitely a brief challenge.

Overall, we had a great time at this local race. I am honestly shocked that this park isn’t utilized for more races, but I can say that I was pleased to see a race for a great cause take to the trails here. I am hoping that they can continue to grow over time and be back in 2014 with even more participants and fun.

As it turns out, they are definitely back for more fun and hope to see more people out there. I love supporting small races, and recommend both this park and event as ones to check out. There will be a family event following the races and random awards available. There will also be a VA providers table and activities for the kids.<

Veteran’s 5K Family Trail Run/Walk (Keizer)

When: 9a for 5k and 930a for 10k
Where: Keizer Rapids Park
Register: Online here; 5K $30 (Veteran discount $20); 10K $35 (Veteran discount $25); Youth 13 & under $20for both distances

Packet pick up: Please pick up your package on Friday August 15 at the Salem VFW post 661 at 630 Hood St. Salem OR 97301 between 3-6PM or on day of the run at Keizer Rapids Park between 7-7:30am.

Can’t attend the run? Make a donation here!


About Matt Rasmussen (1553 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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