I spent my New Year’s Eve at the 2015 First Run and Walk which kicked off at the stroke of midnight in downtown Portland. Frigid temps didn’t keep the runners and walkers away with just over 1,000 finishers on the event’s results. 849 completed the 5K run or walk and 218 participated in the 10K run.
Though it was a chilly night (with one thermostat reading 23 degrees Fahrenheit), the event had lots of heat lamps and a couple fire pits (in the World Trade Center patio) to keep participants, spectators and the amazing volunteers nice and warm. Packet pickup was available at the event and was inside the World Trade Center with plenty of room for participants to hang out and pass the time before queuing up for the event. Packet pickup was a breeze and after picking up my shirt, I quickly learned that the size seemed to run big. I typically fit in a Medium, but Small fits just fine, but having pre ordered my shirt, I was able to swap it without difficulty.
Inflatables were set up with a “snow” machine for a photo opportunity. The fake snow had a magical effect and with the cold weather it was easy to think of it as real snow. The clock counted down to the New Year (and to the start of the race).
After people watching for awhile inside, a friend and I headed out to a heat lamp. We could listen to the DJ play some party music while we kept our blood circulating by dancing. Well, maybe I should say “dancing” with quotes. I don’t normally bust a move out in public, and my friend quickly pretended not to know me…
Outside, tables were set up with party noise makers and glow-in-the-dark necklaces or bracelets and plenty of people could be found in costume. 2015 crowns, hats and other New Year party attire were out in the crowds along with glow-in-the-dark masks and other insignia not common with typical “running gear”. Whether the runner was dressed in warm clothes or costumes (or both), everyone was having a great time. I remember thinking “A New Year’s party with a bunch of runners!” and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend New Years if I was going to be out on the town.
If you weren’t there to witness it, here I am with my dorky dance moves. I ran in an evening gown and pearls to try to be festive in celebrating the New Year.
The course was beautiful and when I crossed the Steel bridge and neared Burnside bridge, the boardwalk was full of runners stopping on their chip timed event to take a selfie. I decided to stop and capture the beauty of the skyline too… and ended up being 2 minutes shy of a 5K PR. Well, sometimes it can’t be about a PR, but about “stopping to smell the roses” (or enjoy the beautiful lights reflecting on the water).
Post race party included beer from Deschutes Brewery and some hot chicken noodle soup. Unfortunately, there was no vegetarian option for hot food, so I drank my beer and ate my peanut butter on bread (jelly was available too), orange wedges and cookies that were also available at the finish. Sports drinks and goodies from the various vendors were also accessible for participants both before and after the race.
If you have ever ran on the waterfront in the day, you’ve seen these metal apparatuses mounted to the sidewalk for mooring vessels. Whether they are called cleats, mooring posts or bollards, they should also be called “hazards to runners and walkers” as they are right at the height for people to accidentally bash their shins and trip over them. A few friends in my running group have confessed to having near misses with these during the daylight hours. Well, running in the middle of the night in a large crowd of people is no exception.
I saw at least two runners trip over them and land on their face.
I am not sure at this writing if they were able to finish the race after falling over them. I was hedged in with several runners between me and the bollards’ victims, but several participants stopped to help the runners back onto their feet. If the event uses this beautiful course again, I would highly recommend recruiting volunteers to stand at each bollard with a flashlight over it and maybe a traffic cone on top of it to make it a little more conspicuous. I remembered to look for them (after my own near miss during a daylight run) and stayed as far to the left on the sidewalk as I could while still giving room for others to run around me.
Overall, this was a fantastic event and I had so much fun running with my noise maker from one of the party tables and blasting it’s honking noise as party goers stopped to cheer for us. Some pedestrians walking over the bridges above hollered “Happy New Year!” and I bleated my response with my horn while running along the course. This could have been a contributing factor to missing my PR time, but it was so much fun.
How did you spend New Year’s Eve?