Culver is quite the place. It is definitely a small town, but not as “backwoods” as I anticipated (sorry!).The main street was really nice and chocked full of little restaurants on one side, and then a nice neighborhood and large city park on the other. The view to the west was pretty incredible. Farmland gave way to the Cascade range, with Mt. Bachelor, the Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte, AND Mt. Hood visible in all their glory.
The race was held in conjunction with the Culver Crawdad Festival and was put on as a fundraiser for the Culver High School volleyball team. When I arrived at the high school sports complex, I noticed the team getting things set up, yet I feared I was in the wrong place. There were only a handful of cars near the track, and I ended up driving around town a time or two trying to determine if I was in the right area. I finally joined the other cars and, low and behold, I was in the right place.
What the race lacked in size (10-12 participants), it definitly made up for it in small town charm and positivity. We started off with a quick introduction of the course and set off for a quick lap around the track. Upon returning to the start, we had a quick jaunt across an open grass field into a mid-calf high ditch of mud and water. We then had another quick area to get our feet wet. There were two small horse troughs about knee high that we had to wade through.
We then had a .25 mile run on the paved country road heading west. This opened up the aforementioned views in full glory and it was about as peaceful as running with sopping wet shoes could be. At that point, there were haybales (donated from a nearby farm) making three small pyramids. We had to go under the first one, over the second, then under the third. This is where some logistics came into play, as once we made it through these three, we had to return the same way. Unfortunately, since we weren’t given enough time to really significantly spread out, we ended up basically having to take turns so we didn’t crash head on. Next year, a second set of 3 haybales would do the trick nicely!
Following the hay-jam, we hit the street again, heading back east and towards where we came from. Another jaunt through the horse troughs weighed down our sneakers as we continued back past the athletic complex and a turn south on Culver Highway. This portion was the longest stretch to actually run and find a bit of pace. An athletic young man had a sizeable lead that I made some headway on, but I was able to pass another during this stretch. He may have been able to cruise through the obstacles, but my run pacing kept me in the mix.
About .75 of a mile later, we did an double cross through the front and back seats of a “redneck car”(which means food, dirt, and stench). I jokingly asked the girls manning the station if this was their car, to which they laughed and replied that it was one of the Freshman’s cars. Clean your vehicle ladies! Another short stretch up the road we climbed up and ran across a small haybale wall before turning around and heading back.
One more pass through the car and a final push to the athletic complex put us within view of the finish. There was a series of 4 wired obstacles that needed to be navigated through climbing and ducking. One of them was an electric fence – an ACTUAL electric fence. I made sure to stay low on that one and made it through unscathed. A series of turns around some “redneck cones” (i.e. tumbleweeds), and we were sent to a great finish. A tarp was laid out, soap and water were everywhere, and we made a slip-and-slide launch through the finish line. Afte 25 minutes of running, the cool water was a refreshing end to the day (and the soap made me actually not smell like camping).
One of the best things about the race was the support, from both the race directors/volunteers and the racers themselves. Since there were a variety of out-and-backs, we were constantly encouraging each other and giving high fives. I was chatting with one 10 or 11 year old boy prior to the race and he said he was a little nervous because he had never ran more than a half mile at a time. By the time he was in his final stretch, there were about 8 people running along side of him, offering encouragement and support as he exhaustedly trudged to the finish line. He was so happy (and tired), and I was really happy to be a part of it. I spent the rest of my time talking to the race director and other runners at such a personal level that I typically am unable to do at bigger races.
Overall, this race was just fun. I came in with no real expectations aside from getting a run and a race in while I was camping. With small local races, I don’t really have astronomical standards. Basically, I just want a race to deliver on what it promises. The event promised obstacles, a 5k course, and an opportunity to support a tangible entity. It did all those. Did it compare to Warrior Dash or Epic Grind? Well, that’s just unfair all around. But it did what I expected it to and that’s all one can ask for. If I ever find myself in the area, I will definitely look up Culver again.