Yes, yes it is true. I have been on a roll with trying new races outside of my home area (Eugene), and finding that I am having a complete blast!!!!!! The race scene in the Portland metropolitan area if quite impressive. I am grateful for that, as driving from Eugene to Portland is a pretty boring drive.
So, road-tripping time again. Saturday, October 25th I was up bright and early to drive from Eugene to Hillsboro for the Halloweenathon. I have participated in one previous Uberthons event, the Oregon Spring Half Marathon, and had a great time. The second Uberthons event I raced in, Halloweenathon, exceeded my expectations.
Originally, I registered for the 15k event. After driving over 2 hours in heavy rain and wind, and arriving at Meriwether Golf Club in Hillsboro, I was pleased to see the rain ceasing for us runners. I arrived pretty early, at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start, so I could be sure to get my bib and have time for the porta-potties.
Parking at this time was a complete breeze, and I was able to park on the pavement in the Meriwether Golf Club lot, right by the clubhouse. Packet pick-up was inside in a banquet room. I was able to collect my bib in mere seconds. It was super pleasant to be able to hang out in the banquet room and stay warm and dry (even though the rain ended for the moment, it was nice to be out of the elements). Complimentary coffee was served to all, racers and support crew. A festive picture booth was happening, where you could get your picture taken free and it was converted to a spooky looking picture. Right before I decided to start heading outside to get a feel for the race conditions, I decided to down-grade my race distance from the 15k to the 5k. I wanted to see if I could beat my 5k PR time (27:43) in the conditions that were present, which was not favorable to a PR. More on the course and conditions below.
It was easy to change my race distance, which I appreciated, and off to the outside I went. But wait! There were some smart ladies lining up inside for the restrooms. I jumped in line. Indoor restrooms and indoor seating before the race? WooHoo! Thank you for this, Uberthons! The porta-pottie line outside was pretty small and quick to get through, too, as a lot of people decided to take advantage of the indoor restrooms outside of the banquet room at the Meriwether.
Heading back outside, the rain was still holding off for the race. A little bit of sun was even peeking through. I raced back to my car to get my sunglasses! I never thought I would need those for this race; glad I had them! Now it was time to get up on the golf course and check out just what we would all be running on! Squish, squish, squish … sop, sop, sop. Okay, it had rained a lot in the last couple of days, and the golf course was complaining about it. I still thought a PR might be possible (silly me), as I am a huge fan of crazy trail runs (not easy trail runs, but crazy trail runs), and this looked like an easy trail run. Like a high school or college cross-country match. The start line was just off the golf green, in the ‘middle thickness’ grass on a golf course (yeah, I am not a golfer, sorry I don’t know the lingo).
Lining up at the start, in about the first 1/3 of the group of participants, I saw fellow Run Oregon Bloggers Brian Bernier, Tung Yin, Marilyn Tycer and Annette Vaughn. Who knew the Halloweenathon was going to be a mini Run Oregon Blog reunion race? After a quick picture with Tung and Marilyn, it was time to settle in and listen to Darwin and guest announcer keep the start line area laughing. I really do love hearing the MC’ing before and after Uberthons races. They are entertaining and unique to Uberthons races (I have never seen anything like it at other races!). After giggling and laughing, it was time to get the race started! Brian was in the front, and off went his group. About 20 seconds later, another 20 or so runners were released onto the course. It was an on time start with a fluid, paced start to keep the runners spaced out.
Once on the course, it was grassy, wet, muddy, and sloppy-tastic! Really, it was a classic cross-country meet! Running through the golf course was super fun, and somewhat challenging, due to the wet grass. Markers along the course were very clear, and lots of course marshals were out on the course as well. No confusion with knowing where to go, which was really nice. The 5k was one loop of the course, the 10k was a two loop, and the 15k was a three loop of the course. One aid station was available for 5k participants, and those looping had an additional aid station at the ‘loop’ junction. I was pleased with the amount of aid available for all distances.
This race was originally scheduled to run on the Reserve golf course, which had tight switch-back style turns on asphalt. Last minute, the Reserve informed Uberthons it was double booked, leaving Uberthons the daunting task of locating an alternate venue about one week before race day. Meriwether Golf Club stepped up to the plate to host us. Having never ran at the Reserve, I am glad we were able to run at Meriwether due to the lack of crazy switchbacks on asphalt. The Meriwether course had twists and turns, but nothing different than a traditional road race. It allowed me to get speed when I hit longer straight stretches of grass, which was awesome. About 20% of the course was on golf cart paths.
I have to admit, I was happy to see the finish line. It was a very fun but somewhat challenging race due to the mud and slop, but that’s okay and totally to be expected in the Pacific Northwest! After crossing the finish line, volunteers handed out super-impressive finisher medals. The eyes even lit up! Spooky! I headed for the nacho bar pretty quick to get some food. The nacho bar was fully staffed with friendly volunteers who we assisting racers with creating their own nacho platter. Also, the Uberthons computers were set-up so that you could type in your bib number and print off instant results. I always tape these to the back of my bib.
After getting my nacho fix, I headed back to the finish line to watch the participants still on the course. The finish line was also the loop point for the 10k and 15k racers. Finishers went one way, and those continuing the 10k and 15k veered off to the left where there was the second aid station. There was so much energy at the finish line/loop point. Great music, Darwin and the guest MC keeping everyone entertained (at least they kept me entertained!). Two super fast kids from Salem came across the finish line and Darwin shook their hand and handed them their finisher medals. It was adorable. I saw so many excellent costumed runners, too. When I felt some raindrops coming (about 1 hour 15 minutes into the race) I headed for my car to leave. It was easy to get out of the parking lot and back on the road.
I want to thank Meriwether Golf Course for allowing the Halloweenathon to move from the Reserve to their course for this event. It was a very nice place to race, and I hope in the future the Halloweenathon can take place at this venue. It was exceptional as a race venue. Excellent job to Uberthons for another wonderful event, too! I’m a huge Uberthons fan, now! Two excellent races = you definitely know what you are doing to produce a fantastic event!
Thumbs Up: Incredible finisher medal, indoor seating before+after race, great nacho bar for post-race food, quick and stress-free parking (and leaving) for the event, very friendly and helpful volunteers, exceptionally well marked course.
Thumbs Down: Just the soppy wet course, though it was FUN, it did not allow me to get a PR. Of course, Uberthons was not at fault for this.