Sunday, March 1, 2015 was a fabulous day for racing. I journeyed to Vancouver, Washington to participate in the Fort Vancouver Run by Energy Events. I had to get on the road super early for this race; 4:45 a.m., to arrive in time to pick-up my race packet, get parked, and not feel frazzled at the start line trying to accomplish everything I needed to for the race. That is the worst feeling for me, arriving at a race with not a second to spare.
I arrived about an hour prior to the start of the 12k race, which began at 8 a.m. Parking at this time was a piece of cake. As I was walking from my car to the packet pick-up area, I noticed a familiar face; fellow Run Oregon Blogger and race rock-star, Joe Dudman, was participating, too! Joe and I are in a (friendly) competition to see who can rack up the most ‘race miles’ in 2015 (and, on the side, who runs the most races in 2015).
The course for the 12k participants followed a major portion of the course that marathon and half marathon racers will run in the Vancouver USA Marathon (the final miles – near the end of both events). The race started right by Pearson Air Museum, in the historic Fort Vancouver Park, which was new this year, as the race outgrew it’s previous space. We traveled along E 5th Street out of the park, along flat streets for a number of miles. One of the big conversation points surrounding the Vancouver USA Marathon and Half Marathon course focuses on the hills in this area. Now that I have participated in the half marathon multiple times, these hills are not a big deal to me. So, I was actually excited to take on the two hills that creep up on the course. These occurred about 2.5 miles into the Fort Vancouver Run 12k.
After we crested the hills, we turned onto East Evergreen Boulevard for a little bit. This area is beautifully tree lined with fantastic views of the Columbia River, Portland Int’l Airport, and gorgeous city views. We turned right onto SE Shorewood Drive, which was a gradual downhill, taking us over the Lewis and Clark Highway. When I was crossing over the highway, vehicles traveling below were cheering on us runners by honking as we ran by.
After crossing the bridge over the highway, we had a moderately steep descent along SE Beach Drive, taking us over the railroad tracks (Hooray! No train to stop us!) and into Wintler Park. The first aid station was located here, about 3.5 miles into the race. The volunteers were very energetic and super friendly. Water and electrolytes were offered.
As a new section of the Columbia River pedestrian pathway is open, after coming out of Wintler Park, we ran along these new, beautiful paved trails. The view of the Columbia … of Oregon, just across the river … all of it was superb. Vancouver-area runners, I just want you to know how envious I am of your running paths! The path ended shortly after running through Marine Park, with the course taking us along SE Columbia Way on the sidewalks. This is a highly industrial area, so the views weren’t as nice, but the remainder of the course made up for this small portion.
We were directed off the sidewalk, along a back road to take us to our second and final aid station for the 12k course, which was positioned just outside of Beaches Restaurant. Again, highly energetic and incredible volunteers were passing out electrolytes and water.
Exiting the aid station, participants were back on the Columbia River multi-use paths again (hooray!). This point in the course was the place where 5k participants and 12k participants merged back onto the same course to finish the event. As we neared the Who Song & Larry’s area, we were directed across the street and under the railroad bridge, which took us onto the pedestrian bridge to return to Fort Vancouver. A very nice spectator was alerting participants to stay to the left at one point coming off of the pedestrian bridge, as there were icy conditions present. Thank you for bringing this to our attention! I am sure he saved a large number of falls, trips or spills.
As I was nearing the finish line, coming back through the sites of the glorious Fort Vancouver Park, I had some energy that wanted to be expelled on the course. I picked up my pace a little, and zoomed past some energetic 5k runners to cross the finish line. After crossing, I knew I could have given a lot more on the course and brought my average pace per mile down more; but, I played it smart now that I am re-playing the race in my mind.
When 12k participants crossed the finish line, we were handed a lovely finisher medal, which also works as a bottle opener (yeah, these are starting to be kind of neat). Post race refreshments included Gatorade, sandwich bread to make peanut butter sandwiches with, bananas and the fab folks from Jamba Juice where handing out beverages, too! All participants 21+ could redeem a coupon on their bib for a free beer at The Rock Pizza. I noticed a lot of people exiting the finish line area quickly to drive to The Rock to get their beer, as it was not served on-site at the race.
At the start/finish line of the event, there was a very nice expo set-up with a great selection of vendors. I always enjoy walking around expos both before and after events. This is usually where I find the best race deals, too, so I definitely take a look.
Run Oregon Blogger, Geli, participated in the 5k race, as well as Run Oregon Blogger Joe Dudman. I stuck around to the very end to watch them receive their hard earned awards for placing. Geli nailed the course and secured 2nd place in her age group, and Joe smoked the whole race, coming in first place overall, and first place masters male in the 5k. Joe took home two huge awards, and a complimentary pair of SKORA shoes. Geli received a nice age group finisher medal.
I really enjoyed everything about the Fort Vancouver Run event. The course was spectacular for the 12k, pre-race logistics were easy, the event technical shirt was superb, and the finisher medal for 12k participants was just awesome.
Here is the link to the full line-up of official results for the Fort Vancouver Run race events.
Thumbs Up: Expo at start/finish line available prior to and after the race, finisher medal for 12k, event technical shirt, energetic and happy volunteers, the course for the 12k was lovely!
Thumbs Down: Waiting until the end of all the races for the overall and age group awards ceremony.