So on Labor Day morning, runners set off in small groups every four minutes for a time trial on the paved bike paths of Greenway Park and Fanno Creek. When I arrived shortly after 8:30, there was already a substantial line of runners ready to set off. Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking of laying down a solid time before the day heated up.
For me, racing on bike paths seems to mentally increase the distance, and out-and-back courses can be a little psychologically tough too (my mile splits were anything but negative!), but the course design actually made for an efficient and flawlessly executed event (except for a slight glitch with the distance – see below).
The staggered start and width of the path allowed for enough traffic to keep runners from getting lonely during the race, but without much congestion. The multiple opportunities for encouragement was also a welcome aspect of the out-and-backs. The start and finish were on different spurs of the trail system, but still within sight of each other. This reduced the prospect of eager starters and delirious finishers colliding or becoming entangled, and was a brilliant touch.
Color-coded arrows along the path clearly pointed the way (yellow on the way out, blue on the way back), and volunteers were stationed at the crucial trail junctions and road crossings. A beaver dam had led to some flooding on one of the path segments originally included in the course, but that loop was easily adjusted.
Several finishers reported the course came in at only 5.85 miles or so on their GPSes, and a review of the course map suggests the turn-around may have been placed a bit short. It was moved today to accommodate for that beaver dam, but maybe a little too much closer to the finish. But everyone still ran the same distance, and there were Red Vines at the finish, so as far as I’m concerned, all is forgiven.
The Greenway Trail Trial wasn’t a point-to-point net downhill course on dirt trails in the shaded woods of Forest Park, but it was still a nice well-organized event in a pleasant setting in its own right, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Check out this link for results from Huber Timing.