Race Recap: Sunriver Marathon for a Cause Challenge Races (Sunriver, Oregon)

How crazy are we, runners? We travel to beautiful locations like Sunriver, Oregon and spend the long, Labor Day weekend racing? I can’t even count on all my fingers and toes how many people I know personally think doing something like this is ridiculous … but do I care? Absolutely not.

On Friday, August 29th, my husband (Bryan) and I packed up the car for our drive from Eugene to Sunriver. We decided to take a new route, which took us through Oakridge by the wildfires, and found  the new scenery enjoyable. This made the 3 hour drive go by pretty quick. Arriving in Sunriver just prior to the 3 p.m. packet pick-up time, we headed for the Sunriver Lodge to see if there was any pre-race buzz in the air. Sure enough, there was. Packet pick-up occurred out on the back lawn of the resort, which overlooks the fabulous golf course at Sunriver Lodge as well as the Three Sisters mountains. There was a beer garden, lots of picnic tables with umbrellas and chairs to sit in. Packet pick-up was a breeze, and lots of folks were at the registration table to get signed up for the event on site. As I was registered for the challenge races (two half marathons in two days), I received two event technical shirts (Nike brand) along with both of my bibs. My brother and sister-in-law were coming to Sunriver from Flagstaff, Arizona, so I asked if I could grab their packets while I was there getting mine, and it was

no problem. In addition to the two technical shirts and my race bibs (with timing chip attached), a nice swag bag was also provided to race participants. I sure love swag bags, and really do miss it when half marathon distance and greater races do not provide one.

Since it wasn’t the 4 p.m. check-in time for the house we rented, Bryan and I lounged in the lawn and watched golfers and fellow racers pick-up their packets, and visited the vendors. There were two vendors at the “expo”, one from the race beneficiary, Oregon SW Washington Affiliate of Susan G Komen. Last year (2013) the event raised over $21,000 for Komen, and another from Foot Zone Bend. Foot Zone had a $5 coupon in the swag bags for participants to visit their store in Bend, which was super nice – I always wanted to visit it, and now I had a great reason!

Saturday, August 30: Half Marathon race #1. My brother and sister-in-law were both racing in Saturday’s half marathon. As they are fast runners, and I just like to run for fun, they lined up at/near the front of the pack. The race started from the “front steps” of the Sunriver Resort. It was super easy to get there from our house, and traffic was moving for participants who were driving in. Parking looks like it was easy enough for everyone, and there were a lot of volunteers and Sunriver Police directing people where they needed to go.

The half marathon started promptly at 8:15 a.m. After the first couple of miles, I was really starting to feel

the altitude difference – Eugene is at about 400 feet, and Sunriver has an impressive altitude of about 4,200 feet. Being a runner with asthma, I was certainly thankful to have remembered to pack my inhaler with me during the race.

The course was just awesome. We looped through portions of the golf course(s) at Sunriver (there are four golf courses at Sunriver), all on paved bike trails. Then, we set out past the airport, equestrian center, and back into some tree covered paved trails that looped through sections of beautiful homes in Sunriver. Aid stations were fully stocked with water and Gatorade, along with a couple stations that had Gu energy gels. All of the aid stations had the most friendly volunteers ever – THANK YOU volunteers! Also, a huge thanks to everyone who marked the course so incredibly well with bright pink course markings. There were plenty of volunteers and Sunriver Police on the course at road interchanges and portions of the path where you could potentially go the wrong direction. All of the volunteers and Police were so friendly and enthusiastic, cheering us on and getting us across streets safely and on the right path.

At about mile 12 I knew I was headed back toward the Resort, and was psyching myself up to get across the finish line as gracefully as possible (why? because I had to do this again tomorrow and didn’t want to look dead on day one!). For the last mile on the bike paths, there were a number of bikers, walkers, and other runners using the path, so it certainly was not lonely running the last mile. At some portions of the course, I was the only one running that I could see. I looped through the Resort grounds getting in those last yards to be sent through the finisher chute, and walla! There was a nice straight-away to the finish line, and friends, family and other finishers were cheering on everyone as they were crossing the finish line.

After finishing, volunteers handed participants a Sunriver Marathon for a Cause pint glass which had a note inside. The note informed racers that the finisher medals had not yet arrived, and would hopefully be available for pick-up later Saturday, Sunday, or would be mailed to participants.

The finisher area was super nice, as friends and family were allowed in to be with participants. There was a private finisher area where participants could get some post-race food. To enter, you had to show your race bib. Cheeses, bagels, kombucha tea, beer from Sunriver Brewing Company, crackers, chocolate milk, and other items were available to finishers.

Shortly after I crossed the finish line (finish time of 2:13:44), there began presenting the overall and age

group awards for the half marathon. Remember when I said my brother and sister-in-law were pretty fast? Well, I was super excited to see that my brother won the race (wow! I can’t even imagine doing this myself!), and my sister-in-law came in as third overall female winner. Bravo family! Great job.

After the race on Saturday, it began to get cloudy, cold, and even rain quite a bit in Sunriver for a good portion of the afternoon and early evening! I didn’t know what I was going to face, weather wise, come Sunday’s half marathon.

Sunday morning’s race started at 7:30 a.m. The marathon distance started shortly prior to the half marathon. At the start line, the temperature was reading 40 degrees fahrenheit. Buurr! Thankfully I packed my “disposable” running gloves just in case. I was super happy to see fellow Run Oregon Blogger Annette Vaughn at the start line, too!

Promptly at 7:30 a.m., us half marathoners took off on the course. The course for Sunday’s race provided racers an extensive snapshot of other golf courses at Sunriver, as well as the Crosswater and Caldera Springs neighborhoods. The golf course views were super amazing, and made me want to learn how to golf (Bryan and I are going to go back this upcoming spring to golf!). The mist and dew was all over the greens, and had a very magically look and feel to it. After hitting aid station 3 at about mile 5-ish, which was staffed by an amazing runner and friend, the course proceeded mostly into the Crosswater and Caldera Springs neighborhoods, but we only ran on the road for maybe one mile-ish the entire time.  The rest of the course was on the paved multi-use/bike paths. There was a sneaker of a hill near the 11 mile mark that was catching folks by surprise, me included! Finally, it was time to run those last couple miles into the finish chute, which was the same set-up as Saturday’s. It was very nice. A long, straight stretch to run into the finish line, with friends, family and fellow race participants on the finisher lawn.

Leading up to crossing the finish line, I heard the announcer say something like, “Here comes Jessica, and she is still smiling!“. So awesome. I was handed my finisher medal (they arrived!) and another Sunriver Marathon for a Cause pint glass (love these!) Run Oregon Bloggers Annette Vaughn and Marilyn Tycer had crossed the finish line before me, and we all got together for a group photo. Super cool! I went to the registration area on the lawn to collect my Challenge finisher medal, as well as the medal from Saturday’s race. In addition to the Challenge finisher medal, I was given a Sunriver Marathon for a Cause running hat that I just think is the bee’s knees. It’s super nice and I loved the added surprise!

The entire collection of Sunriver Marathon for a Cause events are just splendid. I highly recommend you add Sunriver Marathon for a Cause to your race – and vacation – calendar for 2015! The race will take place over Labor Day weekend on September 5-6, 2015. Keep an eye on their website for registration information for the 2015 edition. I hope I can make it back and run this one again! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Thumbs Up: Fantastic volunteers and support on the course, excellent aid stations, wonderful event technical shirts, superb finisher medals, delightful finish line post-race food, on time start, gorgeous courses.

Thumbs Down: The altitude of Sunriver … that’s it!






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