What to expect: Rock ‘n’Roll Portland Half Marathon and 10k

If you've been running for a while, you are probably familiar with the Rock'n'Roll race series. There are races in many cities in the United States and around the world - including Portland - and all of them are well organized, well supported, and lots of fun. They are big races and good for beginners of longer distances (you'll never be alone on the course anywhere) as well as for experienced runners since they often also draw elite runners to the race. Two years ago I ran my first Rock'n'Roll race in Portland, stars aligned and I set a half-marathon PR, which I partially attribute to great aid station support along the way. Registration is available online, and it pays off to like the Rock'n'Roll Facebook page to be alerted of special discounts on specific days. 

I was hoping to repeat the experience last year, but got sick two days before race day. At Rock’n’Roll races you can drop down to a shorter distance simply by running the different race route, so my backup plan was to do just that, but unfortunately I had to make the choice to not start at all. It was a smart decision, but not an easy one. You know the saying: There will be more races, but I only have the one body. So this year, the race is back, and I’m looking forward to it again!

2015 Participant Tee

Rock’n’Roll races draw a very large number of participants to the start line. One way to reduce congestion and confusion on race morning is the fact that you have to pick up your packet at the race expo on Friday or Saturday. Living locally it’s always a better choice to go to the expo early on Friday, since Friday evening and Saturday will be the only option for those who are arriving from out of town.

The expo is a great way to learn about new products for runners. There is race merchandise to purchase and many vendors that offer their wares and samples. Often there are race expo special deals for products or race entries. For example, you can sign up for other Rock’n’Roll races at a significant discount, especially if you’re planning ahead to the following year.

On race morning, allow yourself a lot of time! If you can get a hotel room in Portland for the night before the race, you can relax even more. Public transport is a great option too (the MAX has stops just blocks from the start) but if you’re arriving by car, scope out surface lots and parking garages within a 10 block radius of the start, and allow time to walk to the start. You will be assigned a corral to start from based on your estimated finish time, and since the race is chip timed, your race time won’t start until you cross the start line. You will be grouped with runners of similar pace, so lying on your estimated finish time won’t do anybody any good. If you are looking for a pace group, the pacers will also be in your corral.

The course this year is different from last year. There will be aid stations  approximately every 1.5 miles. For most of us that is enough to not have to carry a lot of water and fuel, but if you are not familiar with the fuel and electrolyte drink that the race will be providing, be sure to carry your own, or get your body used to what will be there before you run. A well planned race can be ruined by eating something unfamiliar along the way. Bands and other entertainers are positioned along the way to keep you motivated and happy.

At the finish you will be given a Mylar blanket for warmth (which I kept and added to my camping emergency supply), water and food. There are vendors, merchandise, drinks, and a concert, which this year will be headlined by Portugal The Man.

Edited to add 3/10/2015: Registration cost for the half marathon is $95 until 5/10, then $150 at the expo, if it didn’t sell out before then.

Portland Rock’n’Roll 10k and Half Marathon details:
When: Sunday, May 17th, 2015; 8:15am start
Where; Waterfront Park, Portland, OR
What: Half Marathon and 10k
Registration: Online here
Registration cost: Half – $110 until 3/31;  $115 until 5/10 $95 until 5/10; $150 at expo if not sold out.
10k – $55 until 5/10; $75 at expo if not sold out.
Registration includes: Official Race T-shirt, Gear Bag, Refreshments at the Start, along the Course, and at the Finish, Finishers Medal, Finisher’s Certificate, Live Bands Every Mile, and admission to the Post-Race Headliner Concert.
Packet pickup: At race expo at the Oregon Convention Center, Hall D-E; Friday, 12-6pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm

2015 Finisher’s Medals

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