The park was full of dogs of every imaginable size, shape, and color, and before the start they were full of nervous energy and eager to get under way. The duo of Andrew Heintz and his appropriately named dog, Turbo, a fixture at local dog runs, took their spot at the front of the “pack” (see what I did there?) for the 5k. Turbo could hardly contain his excitement, but still obeyed his masters commands to wait for the countdown to reach zero before bursting to the lead as the race began.
A loop around the top of the park led to a fast downhill before the first climb. There is no avoiding the hills at Mt. Tabor, and elevation is gained and lost all too quickly. There were times when runners, both two-legged and quaduped, had to negotiate their way through crowds of walkers, but after about 1.5 miles the course opened up.
The 8k course starts and finishes at nearly the same elevation, but the 5k benefits from a net elevation loss, though try telling that to my lungs and legs. One long climb, a second go at a downhill, and a repeat of the first climb led to the finish, and a welcome opportunity to sit on the curb and catch one’s breath.
I saw some runners and walkers peeling off the course on their first time at the finish, which caused some temporary confusion with the results. A volunteer with a sign or a bullhorn stationed there to guide people would help at future races.
I didn’t notice at the time, but a photo later revealed a toddler apparently out-pacing me up the hill. Not at all surprising, given the strong sensation of lack of momentum I felt at that point!
Turbo finished strong to defend his title as top dog, and I was amused at how relaxed all the four-legged competitors were after the race, in contrast to how wound up they were before the start.
Humans were greeted with hamburgers and hotdogs… er, frankfurters, while the dogs got free kibble samples and a chance to cool off in a wading pool. It was great to see how well all the dogs got along, and also how the event attracted whole families including a large number of toddlers, including one tiny guy in a full Argentina soccer uniform who was checking out as many pooches as he could.
Even if you don’t have a dog, the Mt. Tabor Doggie Dash is always a great chance to run in one of Portland’s best parks. Just remember to leave your cats at home (even if they are track stars in their own right!)