This was my first year at the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon 2014 and I am pretty sure I just found one of my favorite half marathons. I know, you guys think I love everything – but really, I totally loved this race from start to end. If you are looking for a race with a small-town feel that is completely thoughtful and supportive of its runners and volunteers – look no further. We have arrived!
Here is my race recap of this wonderful half marathon that supports the ABC House of Benton and Linn Counties, check out my post about this wonderful organization. As you can tell, I was totally excited about this marathon to begin with – I just love what ABC House is doing and I like that this race is all about getting proceeds to them.
I live in Portland and so it took me a little less than two hours to get out there. The night prior wasn’t filled with race jitters – but complete excitement that one of my best friends, Mollie, was coming all the way to Portland from Buffalo, New York. We stayed up way too late talking – so I knew that I would be dealing with excitement jitters and exhaustion. But, I am also a parent of a toddler that won’t stop moving, so wired and tired is basically my existence.
The start of the race was the sweetest gathering area ever. There was easy parking, well-organized booths, and great volunteer support from the get-go. They had an awesome photo area and lots of Halloween-themed decorations. It really set the mood well and was fun.
Soon it was time to line up to get started and there were pacing groups, which was a nice surprise and really made the run so much smoother. They allowed groups to go from the start in about packs of 15-20 so we could all fit onto the trail – which was also brilliant and allowed me to not feel sandwiched in with everyone.
So off we went and we were on our way and the views were immediately incredible. We ran on a path that had water on either side and lily pads and incredible sky views. Forgive me, I am not familiar with my bodies of water – but it was beautiful. From there, it was country roads and river the rest of the way.
An important piece for me in this race was staying focused. My mind tends to wander and I completely lose sight of goals, and I had some lofty ones. I wanted to PR, for one (spoiler alert: didn’t happen) and I wanted to maintain a positive attitude. I tend to crumble in the last couple of miles of any race – not my best quality. So, I pumped up the tunes and set after my goals.
I LOVED the course, it was very gentle rolling hills, but there was so much varied scenery to take in that it was just so nice. We ran on road shoulders for most of the race, which isn’t my favorite, but traffic was unbelievably quiet. There were great mile markers that were spot on with my Nike+ app, each mile marker had a business/organization and an inspirational quote – which I also love.
I have to say that the volunteer support at this race was nothing short of AMAZING. I have done so many races where the volunteers seem like they’re sleeping with their eyes open. I don’t begrudge them that, volunteering sometimes isn’t the best – but that wasn’t true of this race. Every volunteer, even the teenagers (!), looked so pumped about being there – which added so much energy to my run, really. Especially since this wasn’t so much a spectator-friendly run due to the course layout, the volunteers were just fabulous. I especially loved the motorcycle club that was out there – they were lovely and I felt extra safe with them there.
As the miles were ticking down for me, I realized that the elements were playing against me. It was 73F and the sun was out in full effect, there wasn’t a ton of shade while coming into the last few miles – so I was feeling it for sure. Also, I don’t know about you, but the last 5k of every half just feels amazingly hard. It feels like “they’re lying, there’s no finish!” But, I tried to hold the line and focus on my goals and finishing strong.
I came in at 2:27:57, which isn’t a PR, but is insanely consistent with the other halfs I have done. Consistency sometimes has to be good enough.
The race finish was great and the Grim Reaper was there to welcome you to “the end”. There was music, tons of amazing food, and they were kind enough to exchange my shirt for a different size.
If you’re looking for a race that has a small-town feel while bringing all of the “perks” of a big race, I highly recommend the Runaway Pumpkin Half. For only having been in business for three years, this race has it completely dialed in and is just beautiful. This is a must-run!!