Guest recap: 2015 Helvetia Half Marathon

Helvetia LogoThis recap was submitted by Run Oregon reader Doug Darst. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you are wanting to write a preview or recap your running experiences as well!

What a beautiful day for a race!  The 2015 Helvetia Half Marathon was held on June 13th at the Hillsboro Hops Ballpark, a great venue for the start and finish lines, not to mention a plethora of vendors handing out free product samples.

I have to admit that I was a little concerned as I warmed up in the morning sun. This was my first time running the Helvetia Half and leading up to the race, whenever I mentioned my intention to run it, people immediately responded with, “It’s hilly!” or “It's a great race to practice a run-walk approach”. Not one to back down from the opportunity to hang a new finisher’s medal on my wall, I decided to keep optimistic and just enjoy the ride.

Before long it was time for both the 10k and half marathoners to gather at the start line. It was definitely crowded as everyone tried to stay loose and double-check their sports watches in anticipation of the start. A camera-equipped drone hovered over our heads as a young lady sung the National Anthem, which is a great way to start any race. Then, with a final countdown, it was time to go!

True to the motto of the race, we made our way down the streets, slowly leaving the city behind us. The first mile is always a fun, but chaotic experience as everyone tries to separate from the pack, control the adrenaline and find their target pace under the morning sun. It didn’t take long before we were out in the country dealing with various elevation gains, but nothing too terrible. I’ve only done a handful of half marathons so my goal is usually twofold: finish and don’t get hurt. Given that, I’m always amazed at people who can run 13.1 miles in a bumblebee costume, carry a full size American flag or even knit as they go!  If nothing else, it makes for some fun entertainment as you burn down the miles.

At about mile 5 ½, the biggest elevation climb of the race presented itself. I’ll be honest, it was a really challenging climb for this amateur runner but I stuck to my even, albeit slow pace and made it to the summit where the runners were rewarded with the downhill side. Along the entire course, the volunteers were great, providing drinks and even energy packets at one of the checkpoints. Traffic control was also excellent and from my viewpoint, the race was extremely well-organized.

After making our way back to the city, it was really fun to finish inside the Hillsboro Hops Ballpark to a huge crowd, cold water and a finishers medal! After catching my breath, I headed over to the food area to receive my free Helvetia burger and beer  I settled down to enjoy the food at one of the tables where I posted the requisite post-race selfie to Facebook and enjoyed watching other runners finish their races.

In summary, this was a great event, hosted by folks who clearly know what they’re doing.  I’ll certainly be back next year. Oh, and don’t worry too much about elevation gains.  It’s just like life: keep a reasonable pace and simply take one hill at a time.

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