Race Recap: Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon (Lebanon, Oregon)

2014 Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon goodie bag. This baby full packed full of samples, coupons, and just plain awesome swag.

2014 Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon goodie bag. This baby was packed full of samples, coupons, and just plain awesome swag. Gosh, I sure have missed goodie bags from races! Photo Credit: Bryan Mumme

I was so excited when, just days before the race, I found out I was able to participate in the 2014 Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon on Saturday, October 18. I absolutely loved this race! Having participated in the 2012 and 2013 events as well, I had my expectations set super-high for this event, as the previous two years the race has been simply a fantastic experience.

The weather could not have been better on race day; sun, sun, sun and mild temperatures. In 2012 when I first participated in this race, it was raining like no tomorrow. It was very nice to have two years in a row where the weather was on the side of the racers!

When I arrived at Cheadle Lake, where the start and finish line for the race was located, lots of friendly volunteers were there to get all of our vehicles parked. Parking was in a well groomed field and there was a very short walk to get to the packet pick-up area. The lines were moving very quickly, and it took only moments to receive my bib, timing chip, long-sleeved technical event shirt, and goodie bag. Yes, I said goodie bag!

I love goodie bags, and I sure miss them. Back when I really got into racing, in 2006, goodie bags were the thing. You would go to the race expo, grab your goodie bag, look at vendors, and get super jazzed for the race with the energy at the expo. Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon sure makes me smile with their excellent goodie bag! I had to post a picture (above) of what I found inside – it was packed full of loot!!

Pre-race costume contest and activity!

Pre-race costume contest and activity! Photo Credit: Bryan Mumme

Vendors were set-up and letting racers check out their booths. Music and race announcements were occurring. There was a costume contest that happened prior to the 9 a.m. start of the race. A fair amount of porta-potties were available (the line did get long moments before the start of the race, but this is fairly typical at all events) and set up in a nice fashion to keep the line moving. There was a fire pit with a roaring, warm fire as well as covered areas with outdoor heaters for racers to get warmed up at.

About 10 minutes prior to the start of the race, an announcement came through for racers to begin feeding into their predicted average mile pace. I lined up with the 9 minute per mile group, which was pretty packed. The race started promptly at 9 a.m. with a staggered start, as the beginning half of a mile or so was on narrow paths by the lake. About 20 runners were ‘released’ about every 10 seconds. It made the start area feel safe, controlled, and not having to worry about being trampled right out of the gate. This was an excellent, orderly way to get racers on their way.

Aid stations were spaced perfectly along the course, about every 2 miles. The aid stations were fully stocked with water and electrolytes, and the volunteers were so incredibly friendly! Thank you, volunteers, for all you do to make this event incredible!

Batman coming across the finish line! Photo Credit: Bryan Mumme

Batman coming across the finish line! Photo Credit: Bryan Mumme

One part, of many, that I love about this race is that a bunch of Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders ride on the course with racers to keep things safe, and also to help with traffic control. It is so much fun to watch them, and I really appreciate them being out there to help keep us safe on the roads!

The first 3 or 4 miles of the course is run along Cheadle Lake, then into quiet neighborhood streets. After running through the beautiful neighborhoods, you head along two lane country roads. The scenery is beautiful; lots of farms, animals, water … there was even a lovely dam, with glassy, still water on one side that was mesmerizing. I don’t remember seeing this in the past, but I know the course hasn’t changed, so I must have been in runner la-la land previously at this portion of the course. Around the 11 mile marker, the Lebanon high school band was playing. They were great and had so much energy! I wanted to steal some of it to get me through the last leg!

The final stretch of the race did get warm. No complaints, but with the 9 a.m. start time, and hitting the last two miles at around 11 a.m., I was glad to be nearing the finish line. It was steamy out there! Needless to say, when I saw the Grim Reaper, who seriously looks like THE Grim Reaper, I was sure happy to be greeted by him! Why? Because he always greets runners coming into the finish line at about the 13 mile mark. I always look forward to seeing him!

Coming to the finish line, we raced on a little bit of gravel, similar to when we started the race. I was surprised at the number of people getting slipped up in the gravel, as it wasn’t a “surprise” … but racers do get excited when they see the finish line so I understand. Maybe a sign warning folks that they are coming up on gravel to the finish line would be helpful … but I also don’t think many people would read it. We’re too pre-occupied with that finish line in sight, right?

Event shirt and finisher medal!

Event shirt and finisher medal!

Upon crossing the finish line, again, super volunteers were snipping off our timing chips, and others were handing out the gorgeous finisher medal. This year, as occurred last year, the finisher medal was a spinner!

The finish line food was excellent, and there was lots of it. I missed all the cheese this year, but there was a little bit left to keep me happy. I appreciated the chocolate milk offered to participants, too! Thank you! Bagels, fruit, chips, crackers, chocolate milk, and other post-race staples were provided. The expo vendor area was really lively, and there were lots of massage areas with small lines (due to the 4 or so vendors providing post-race massage).

I just love this race. It’s so solid, reliable, full of amazingly friendly racers, volunteers and fans along the course. The technical event shirt is stellar, the goodie bag is amazing, as is the finisher medal. All proceeds of the race benefit the ABC House, which is just an incredible organization, too. Zero issues or things I would change about the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon. You should really consider adding it to your 2015 race calendar – you know I will be!

Thumbs Up: Amazing goodie bag, fantastic volunteers and support on the course, excellent aid stations spaced perfectly, wonderful event technical shirts, lovely finisher medals, staggered start that began on time.

Thumbs Down: Long-ish lines at the porta-potties before the race started.

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