I must say that every August I get a little bummed out when I see everyone’s Hood to Coast pictures popping up everywhere. I have still not ran in H2C, and am always left feeling a little out of the loop and down when I see the fun that everyone is having (sans waiting in traffic). This year, I decided to do something about it – and no I don’t mean that I joined a relay team. What I DID do was run the Canby Dahlia Run Half – the unofficial alternate to the H2C madness.
For a weekend that is typically filled with chaos, traffic, and over-the-top running, the Canby Dahlia Runs are a stark contrast. The event is ran about as efficiently as a small/medium race can be ran. I did not experience one hiccup (except for own poor showing) from start to finish and was blown away by the experience. Let me explain.
Canby is a medium size town that operates a little smaller than it is. Each time I have spent time there, the community seems to really rally behind each other and support each other’s events. This event was clearly a favorite of the locals and the community volunteers made for a seamless day. Packet pick-up was quick and easy and gave a functional “swag bag” with a handful of coupons (instead of the gobs of paper that I am usually quick to recycle), some Biofreeze, sunscreen, pad of paper (which my daughter loves), and a shirt. Simple yet stuff I actually put to use.
The post-race was simple yet functional as well. There were more booths than I anticipated, and I got to enjoy some fruit, energy drinks, gather up my dahlia, get an ice bath and receive a massage. Not too shabby if you ask me.
The race itself was a great course. It was essentially flat, with only a few minor climbs. It started off by quickly turning onto the old logging trail, which has been turned into a great stretch of paved trail. In fact, this is turning into one of my more favorite areas to run. I stopped by last week and ran in Canby on a free day and happened to find myself on this path. It is amazing and the race utilizes it to its fullest extent.
Mile 2-4 (or so) put us on a quick out and back that led to the banks of the Willamette before looping back and returning to the Territorial Road. I, for one, enjoy out and back sections during races, as it allows the opportunity for encouragement from those who you would typically never see otherwise. There was amazing support and high fives along this section.
The major (and most significant) difference between the 10k and the half is the running through Swan Island Dahlia farm – the biggest dahlia farm in the world. We entered from the East and passed alongside the farm for a short stretch, wetting our palates for the true uniquness of getting to actually run through the rows of flowers. Had I known that the second half of my race was going to be so slow anyways, I would have slowed up and spent more time enjoying this quick portion. The flowers were in full bloom and solidified my decision that I would return and bring home some for my wife.
At mile 8, the half joined back up with the 10k split and we hit the logging path for a stretch before giving way to the beautiful farmland in the periphery of the Canby City center. You can read Joe’s recap and his description of the long straight stretches. My experience was much the same as his, albeit over a minute and half slower per mile.
WIth almost 600 participants this year, this race continues to gain traction as not only a great race if you were denied Hood to Coast, but even one to consider skipping the big relay for. I mean, there is something nice about sleeping in your own bed, eating good meals, getting a beautiful run in, and being done and home by 11 to enjoy the warm weather. AND you are get to support local and important charities in the process. I mean, what’s not to love?
This race comes HIGHLY recommended by the Run Oregon team and is one you should definitely put on your calendar for next year, regardless of if you are planning on H2C or not!