Having recently retired from overnight relays, and hearing about the annual traffic nightmares at Hood To Coast, it was nice to wake up in my own bed, cruise down Hwy 99E in the early morning coolness, and run the Canby Dahlia Run, the unofficial alternative to “The Mother Of All Relays”.
For many local runners the Canby Dahlia Run, which includes a half marathon and a 10k, is quickly becoming a Hood To Coast weekend tradition. One sign that the race is becoming very popular was the long line of preregistered runners picking up their packets, in contrast to the handful of people signing up day-of-race. To me, this suggested that people weren’t just showing up on a whim, having failed to land a spot on a Hood To Coast team, but they had been looking forward to the event specifically and signed up early.
And for good reason: The courses, the atmosphere, and the organization are all top-notch. One minor quibble was at the start, when the half marathoners were sent off, while the 10k runners were held back and then suddenly given the go-ahead to start about 90 seconds later. While the event was chip timed, it still made for a bit of a crowded start, and I found myself weaving through the multitude for a few strides until I made my way to the outside and began to settle into my pace.
At around 3/4 of a mile, the courses diverged, with the half turning right and the 10k heading left, onto a paved bike path. One speedy 10k woman had started with the half marathon runners and was leading the way down the path. Somewhere around a mile-and-a-half in I finally caught her, and we exchanged encouragement.
At a large chip timed race with a staggered start my mind drifted to thoughts of who I might “chip”, or who might be gaining ground behind me and make up enough time to “chip” me. But the cool morning air, the quiet rural setting (from the path it was hard to tell we were in a city at all), and the effort of putting one foot in front of the other at race pace quickly put those thoughts to rest.
Whether on the path or the paved country roads that followed, the course was well staffed with enthusiastic, alert, and helpful volunteers at each turn and water station, and the signage was clear and unambiguous. Large sandwich boards marked each mile for both the 10k and the half, large arrows pointed runners in the right direction at each intersection, and if you somehow missed the signs, chalk arrows on the pavement made it obvious which way to go.
As I approached one intersection I began to cross to the left side of the road to “cut the tangent” in anticipation of the turn, when the volunteer politely called out to me to stay on the right. “We want to keep you safe,” she explained. I really appreciated the direct instructions and the courteous explanation, and gave her a thumbs up of gratitude as I passed. She gave me a “Great job!” and a smile as I made the turn, which was typical of everyone along the course. I was impressed with the friendliness and supportive comments from all the volunteers.
I only noticed one small detail that could be improved at future races: The view of some of the signs was blocked by parked vehicles, so as I approached an intersection I couldn’t be sure which way to go until I got past the car. Some of the volunteers were also out of sight behind a car or van until I was right next to them. This could be easily fixed by parking just a little farther down the road, past the signs. But aside from that, the volunteers were “out of sight!”, in the other sense of the phrase.
The second half of the course is marked by some long, straight sections of farm road which are very scenic, but serve to reinforce how far a mile is on foot. At one point I saw a mirage of three figures running along up ahead, and I wondered if they were part of the race. But I soon realized they were running toward me, and it turned out to be a trio of high school aged boys who gave me some well needed cheers as they passed.
Somewhere in the last couple miles I was making my way up a slight hill and passed a farm with a sign saying “J-Bar Ranch”. Always on the lookout for humorous “hooks” for my Run Oregon race reports, I was thinking my legs were beginning to feel like they should be put out to pasture at the “FUBAR Ranch”. But in actuality my legs still felt relatively decent, and despite the usual general strain and effort of the final miles, I was able to maintain a decent pace. (But I’m keeping the joke in here for your amusement – or mine at least!)
Before the race, a friend and I had warmed up on the last mile of the course, and I noticed an aid station with a blue canopy a couple hundred meters down the road, visible from the final turn. Now, as I entered the last mile and turned onto that road, the blue canopy was clearly visible up ahead. That was a welcome sight, and an indication that the finish was not far away.
I made the last turn, climbed a short, slight hill, and entered the shaded, downhill final stretch to the finish, where I crossed the line, received my finisher’s medal and dahlia, and retrieved my camera to take photos of some of the other finishers.
As I returned to the finish area, the three high school runners were entering the parking lot, and I thanked them for their encouragement. I should probably have also thanked them for not racing!
Touch screens were available for instant results and printouts courtesy of Überthons, and medals were presented to the top three in 10-year age groups. A beautiful red Corvette was parked near the finish, but to my disappointment it was not one of the prizes.
People always seem to have a great time at the Canby Dahlia Run, and if HTC is not on your schedule next year, or you feel like trying an alternative, you can’t go wrong with the CDR!
Results (For full results click HERE):
1. Adam Divergilio*, 40, Lake Oswego, 1:20:07
2. Keith Wilson, 29, Klamath Falls, 1:22:22
3. Todd Bryan*, 51, town n/a, 1:22:39
1. Kathryn Flyte, 22, West Linn, 1:26:53
2. Rachel Peters, 27, Canby, 1:32:34
3. Alexandra Jones, 23, Lake Oswego, 1:33:40
1. Mark Capalbo, 43, Portland, 1:23:12
2. Chuck Coats, 54, Prineville, 1:25:10
3. Todd Coblentz, 46, Stayton, 1:25:40
1. Leslie Pierson, 41, Canby, 1:41:39
2. Tracy Della Valle, 50, Portland, 1:51:14
3. Mary Pat Bland, 42, Portland, 1:51:51
1. Michelle Hurn, 31, Portland, 38:01
2. Deanna O’Neil*, 49, Canby, 39:43
3. Hailey Rambo, 24, Bend, 46:07
1. Joe Dudman*, 50, Portland, 36:53
2. Ethan Patterson, 17, Canby, 38:28
3. Tedd Girouard*, 42, Las Vegas, 39:23
1. Janelle Dickerson, 49, Portland, 48:52
2. Stephanie Barnette, 42, Camas, 50:57
3. Betsy Natter, 49, Beaverton, 53:35
1. Greg Kempthorn, 47, town n/a, 41:10
2. Jeff O’Neil, 56, Canby, 41:58
3. Jason Waalices, 49, town n/a, 42:11