I have heard many good things about Albertina Kerr’s Race for the Roses and have been excited to check out this event for quite awhile. After learning more about Albertina Kerr and seeing what the race was all about, I was not disappointed. The hand made finisher’s medals are unique and one of my favorites since each one was part of something important. The medals were provided by a program of Albertina Kerr called Port City which provides employment for adults with developmental disabilities. A hand made medal makes each one unique in it’s own way just as each runner’s race experience is unique to them. Here’s a little bit about my experience….
I participated in the packet pickup held the morning before the race at Albertina Kerr. If you were in a hurry, you could easily grab your race bib and shirt and be on your way or stop by some of the booths and enjoy a beer sample or some coffee. A “Runner’s Breakfast” was also available for $5 inside at the Albertina Kerr Kitchen. My family and I stopped to “smell the roses” (sorry, I couldn’t help it!) and enjoy the breakfast bar. This was a nice change to a typical packet pick up and my kids were over the moon for the muffins, orange juice, parfait made of granola and yogurt with fresh berries, home made bagels, fruit and more. Though packet pickup was available on Saturday until 2pm, breakfast was available until 11am and I’m so glad we did that.
The morning of the race, I decided to avoid traffic and parking and take the MAX down to the race being held at the Convention Center. This is a great option since the staging area for the pre race festivities and post race party are inside. Not only is it convenient to get to with local transit or near by parking garages, the Convention Center offers a warm area to hang out in before and after the race, lots of space for vendors who are set up for us to enjoy, and porcelain toilets! (Though plenty or porta potties were also available outside.) I ran into Run Oregon blogger Joe Dudman before his 5K and wished him luck, though that dude hardly needs it! (He came in 3rd! To see the results for all the race distances, you can check them out by clicking HERE. Timing was provided by AA Sports.)
While milling about and waiting for my 10K race to start I saw a line for photos. Though there are free photos available for download through Andie Petkus Photography for packet pickup and course pictures or for the photo booth style finisher photos from Acme Picture Co, this line was not for either of those… As I got closer, I realized it was my friend Sandy! She is pretty creative with costumes and you can see some of her adventures over at Run Silly. So, naturally, I got in line to get a photo with my friend before our race started. Sandy stated that her costume was very comfortable for the 10K. She was able to run her pace and stayed very warm. Seeing Sandy at a race always makes the event more fun!
As the 10k runners made their way outside to the start, we listened to music from the Pandora station (Regence Live Fearless Oregon) put together by the sponsor Regence BlueCross BlueShield. The weather was perfect, though a little chill in the early morning. I’ve decided that I love early morning races and as I start to warm up over the course, the day starts to slowly warm up as well. The 10K course follows a similar path to the 5K and Half marathon course, so it’s a good idea to check the map before hand to see the differences to know where you will turn (or not turn) to keep on track. However, if you didn’t get a chance to review the map, volunteers were out in great numbers to help direct as well as signs warning that there would be more signs soon to direct runners to their perspective course routes.
We ran across the Broadway bridge, and for all the downtown running I have done, I had not crossed that bridge before on foot. That was pretty exciting to me and looking out to see the Fremont Bridge on my right and the Steel Bridge on my left (that would later take us to the finish). Downtown running on an early Sunday morning left the streets pretty bare as we took over the roads. Some runners on the 10K course may have been stopped momentarily as a large semi needed to pull into the Post Office on NW 9th ave and NW Johnson St. I say momentarily because as one of the last runners to make it through before the semi crossed (assisted by police officers) it was within seconds that I was being passed by the runners behind me who would have been affected. Though, understandably, these moments of yielding to traffic might feel longer than it actually is when out on a race.
Before the race had begun, runners were warned that the course would cross amtrak tracks, but timing belts were laid out to adjust for any time lost waiting and official race times would not be affected. After running through a little of The Pearl District and through parts of downtown, we turned back to run on Front Ave along the Willamette River. I was pleasantly surprised to run “into” the Portland Mounted Patrol Equestrian Facility on 9th and Naito. The horses were out enjoying the morning air and watching the runners pass by. I guess this means I might need to learn more about our City Of Roses, but it was pretty cool to see a hose stable in the middle of the city.
Runners for all three courses are then taken along Naito Parkway to the Steel Bridge. However, you are running up over the bridge and not taking the pedestrian walk beneath. I don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me before, but when I approached that part of the course and saw the route we would be taking over the bridge, I knew the incline would be short but a killer. It was a fun challenge and someone behind me was cheering everyone who passed by her to keep up the good work. Once the bridge had been conquered, the finish line was a quick stretch ahead with lots of friends and families cheering as they waited for their runner to come in.
Once the race was finished, participants were given their hand crafted finisher’s medal, a canvas tote to place any other goodies in (such as the bottled water handed out at the finish) and a fresh, long stem rose. Once I had these items in hand, I enjoyed a sample from Jamba Juice, samples from Dave’s killer Bread, hot coffee and the typical post race food items that are most welcome (yea for bananas!). After getting my free massage in the back corner of the event space, I made my journey home. The race was a lot of fun and I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent my day on April 19th. If you missed Matt’s recap of his experience at the race, you can catch it here. Put this one on your calendars for next year!