It was still dark when I arrived in downtown Portland. I typically park in the PSU parking garage (which is free and open to the public on Sundays) but today found street parking on 2nd St (free on Sundays until 1pm), which is several blocks closer to the finish line. I made sure I stayed south of Salmon St to avoid the road closures for the 5k later in the morning.
I walked the five blocks to the finish area, where race organizers were still setting up the finish chute. The start line is another six blocks to the north of the finish, which reduces congestion and confusion as the different races start and finish. It was raining quite heavily at this point, so I joined a group of runners huddled under the Morrison Bridge to wait for the 7:30am start of the 15k.
The race got started on time using a “release and hold” procedure, letting runners go for about two minutes before holding the next starting group for a little while to allow the field to stretch out better. There were several spots along Naito Pkwy where there was significant puddling and ponding of water, and runners either took a detour onto the sidewalk or decided to plow right through. We didn’t get stopped by any Amtrak trains, but I noticed timing mats near the railroad crossings so that waiting time could be subtracted from the final time, should runners be held up by a train.
Bands along the way provided some entertainment, and the first water station at mile 2.4 was well-managed and had plenty of water. Running up Broadway I was feeling good, but still took a few walking breaks. Approaching the beginning of the “real” hill up Terwilliger Blvd, I was looking forward to the next water station that in past years (and according to the course map) had been located right at the 180 turn at the bottom of the hill, but it wasn’t there! I was about to start panicking (I wasn’t carrying water this time), when I saw a volunteer hold a sign and shout out to us that the water/aid station was 200 yards up the hill.
A bit later, as I was passing my 5-mile marker and saw the half-marathon 9-mile marker, I kept my mind busy by calculating how fast a half marathoner would have to be running to be passing me now. Shortly after I concluded that a 6:30 pace runner would catch up with me soon, I heard the horn of the police motorcycle that was clearing the way for the lead half-marathoner.
When I heard the drums and bagpipes, I knew I was close to the summit at mile 6. I had some water and a Clif Shot and was looking forward to the descent. At this point, more speedy half marathon runners were flying by me. Even though we had been told and reminded many times to stay to the right if we’re slower, many 15k-ers didn’t heed that advice and the fast runners had to weave and dodge.
The final water station was at mile 8, and I could also smell the bacon from the unsanctioned beer/bacon/snack cakes aid station, manned by costumed cheering fans. The final mile went quickly, and after passing the finish line, I was handed my finisher’s medal.
The finish area seemed difficult to figure out where to get what. I headed for the beer garden first, since historically the lines get longer if I delay too much. After I picked up my pint of Widmer, I realized that I could also get my Stanford’s salmon chowder inside the beer garden. I was a little disappointed in the amount of chowder (a 3oz sample vs a full cup in past years; certainly not a full serving that was advertised on the Shamrock Run website), but I enjoyed the taste. After finishing my beer I starting making my way south towards my car, planning to pick up snacks and drinks along the way. To my disappointment there was no other food offered anywhere, not even the bananas and oranges runners are so used to. I also didn’t see any vendors with snacks or samples, so I left quickly to get some food.
Overall, the run was about as I expected. I like to run the 15k, even when I’m not entirely prepared for the distance, because it’s the first start of all the races. I wish there were more post-race snacks available and more than one place to get water in the finish area. It is a very large race, so the crowds don’t surprise me, and the organization really deals with the masses very well.