On Saturday, June 13, 2015, I ventured from Eugene to the beautiful town of Oakridge, Oregon (about 45 minutes away) to participate in The Dam Half Marathon. The Dam Marathon hosted a series of events for participants to choose from; a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, and 4.5 mile hike.
I was really excited to get registered for this race, as I have heard many colleges in the running community speak highly of their experience of the event in 2014. I had high expectations for the 2015 race!
Friday evening, I collected my bib and event technical shirt from the packet pick-up that was occurring in Eugene. There were multiple opportunities to retrieve your race bib and shirt; two times in Oakridge on Friday, once in Eugene or Friday, and day of race pick-up.
On Saturday, the half marathon was scheduled to kick-off at 10:30 a.m. Marathoners started at 8 a.m. It was pretty warm at the start time, and of course, the heat continued to raise as we were on the course. I am not a fan of running in warm weather – 60 degrees is pretty much my max comfort zone for running – and it was well into the high 70’s and mid-to-low 80’s.
The half marathon was an out-and-back loop. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I really enjoy out-and-back courses. The first mile or so took participants along the paved paths of Green Waters Park, across a lovely foot bridge, and onto dirt and gravel trails, with some wide logging roads thrown in for good measure. Maybe not thrown in for such good measure, for me, however. I tripped and fell on a rock protruding from the hard back dirt, falling, nearly, flat on my face. My knee was skinned up pretty bad, as well as both of my hands. Ah well, just get up and keep moving, Jessica!
After coming out of the trail/logging road terrain, the remaining portion of the course was on quiet back country roads. The scenery was stunning, with a gigantic, beautiful, clear lake in view. Nearly the entire first half of the course was uphill. I wasn’t expecting as many hills, but they were fantastic for training, and nothing that was exceptionally difficult. I did walk for a bit on the hills just to get my heart rate back down, and to cool off a bit – it was a roaster outside.
At the half way point of the out-and-back course, I knew it would be mostly downhill to the finish line, which was much appreciated. At this point, my knee was throbbing and aching pretty bad from the uphill pounding. And, (yes, I know I have already said this a lot), it was hot out.
After completing the turn around, the next two miles were fairly shady. It was excellent, and I was able to make up some lost time during the uphill climbs. I was pacing a young half marathoner during this time, as she wanted to make up some time, as well. I enjoy running with the younger generation of runners coming up through the ranks. Once we passed the next aid station, I proceeded to see if I could kick it up even more to make up time. Thankfully, the next ~2 miles were nicely graded downhill, but — lots of sun beating down on us. It was like an oven.
Let me tell you – I was thankful for the last ~2.5 miles of the race. Someone informed me as I was coming out of the roaster that the remaining portion of the course was mostly shaded. It was indeed! Additionally, to my liking, there was about 1.5 mile of decent graded downhill; I love descending.
When we were back on the logging roads and dirt/gravel trail, leading us to the finish line, I did slow it down a bit to make sure I didn’t loose my footing and repeat my glorious tripping adventure. After making it safely over the foot bride, I kicked it into a moderate spring to get through the park and to the finish line.
The finish line was incredible. You could hear the music coming from the stage clearly, and it was very energizing. Spectators lined the side of the path in the park, cheering on finishers. Upon crossing, volunteers handed marathoners and half marathoners nice finisher medals. The park was full of festivities, family and friends joined participants, vendors were set-up selling lemonade and food, a bounce-house was set-up for children, music was playing from the stage. Participants were treated to the typical finish line foods, including some fantastic kombucha from Humm Kombucha in Bend. It was such an awesome atmosphere. I will be back to tackle The Dam Half Marathon (or maybe Marathon!) in 2016 and bring my family and friends so we can all celebrate together!
Parking was simple. Restrooms prior to the race were flush toilets and the lines remained short. Excellent distribution of aid stations on the course including porta-potties. Lovely finisher medal and event technical shirt. And an incredible after-party that was fit for a King and Queen. This is an exceptionally family friendly set of events, offering a distance for everyone to participate in; or, plenty of entertainment at Green Waters Park while your loved ones are out on the course.
Loved this race, and have it on my 2016 calendar for next year! Great job to all those responsible for making The Dam Marathon event spectacular!