I was spending the weekend camping at Silver Falls State Park, so I approached Mt. Angel from the south. I saw some racer activity around the Festhallle/Biergarten, which had been the starting area for the Oregon Marathon and Half about half an hour before I arrived in the town. The start line for my race was another mile to the east, and parking was pleasantly easy to find. Race Northwest had sent out an email with a parking map just a few days before the race, and throughout the morning I saw several spots open on the residential streets identified on the map, so I’m assuming that even later arrivals found ample parking.
There was no line at the packet pickup (about one hour before start time) as I got my bib, timing tag and shirt, and I was able to switch race distance with no problem at all. There was not a whole lot to do at the start area, so I headed back to my car to get changed (it had warmed from 45 to a “balmy” 56 degrees) before getting in line for the bathrooms. There were only twelve HoneyBuckets set up, and the line was pretty long, so I watched the start of the kids’ one-mile race from there. I was impressed to see that even the kids race was timed (results here).
After the last child crossed the finish line, we were told to line up at the start line (chalk line on the ground) ready to head south. I did not hear a starting horn, whistle or countdown at all, but suddenly the pack started moving. The 5k and 10k runners started all together, and there had been no guidance to line up by pace, so the first two blocks was pretty tight and I had to dodge a few walkers to get to a more open spot.
The course was very well-marked with both white-painted arrows on the road and signs along the side of the route. The 5k route is an out and back along hop farms with an added loop through the neighborhood at the end, while the 10k starts on the same course, but instead of turning around goes in a big circle around the abbey before re-joining the 5k course for the finishing loop. The finish area was improved over last year with the finish line on the street (instead of the grass) and a chip timing tag. The post-race snacks were excellent again with bananas, bagels, and different kinds of sweet breads. The race entry also included a free beer at the Festhalle, but since that didn’t open until 11am, I didn’t take advantage of that offer this time.
I really enjoyed the Oktoberfest road race again this year. It’s a somewhat small race (with 680 finishers this year) without frills. The shirts are consistently nice quality (Greenlayer), course support is great, and pre- and post-race setup is done well. A countdown towards the start would have been nice, and maybe a few additional porta-potties would help reduce the line, especially since there are no bathrooms along the course. I was a bit worried that the half and full marathon taking place on the same day may reduce attendance, but there were actually about 30 more race entries this year than last. And even though the 5k/10k course overlapped with the half/full marathon course by a few blocks, I did not notice any problems resulting from that.
Overall, this race continues to be one of the best in the Mid-Willamette Valley, and is one that you should check out regardless of if it is sharing a city or not.