If you ever get the opportunity to start your July 4th on Sauvie Island, definitely do it!! I’ve heard great things about the Foot Traffic Flat for several years and I’ve always wanted to run it! This year I got the chance and I tell you what… It did NOT disappoint! I was stoked when I learned I was going to be able to run the half marathon and started planning my trip up to Portland from Southern Oregon for what would be a whirlwind weekend!
I decided the only way to really experience all that the race had to offer was to head up Friday in ‘Little Red’ (my sassy little Toyota) and stay at the host hotel, Silver Cloud Inn. Before arriving at this adorable boutique hotel in Northwest Portland, I popped by the Southeast Foot Traffic Store for packet pickup. The folks there are always super friendly, very efficient, and the 10% off your purchase with your race bib is a great motivator for some shopping after a long drive. I scored some race day nutrition and of course I had to have a Foot Traffic shirt!
On to the hotel to get settled in and find some dinner. Silver Cloud Inn is super easy to find tucked in at the end of N.W. 23rd Street. There are tons of restaurants, shops, and little corner markets right within walking distance which makes this location perfect for hosting race participants. The facility itself is elegant, quaint, and the staff is very friendly and accommodating. They even offered breakfast early for those of us racing so we could get all fueled up before jumping onto the shuttles much before 6am! The atmosphere was electric and you could feel the excitement as athlete after athlete rolled in. I slept wonderfully, something that doesn’t normally happen for me the night before a race, but the bed was so comfy and it was surprisingly quiet in my huge beautiful room!
July 4th dawned a gorgeous sunny day! I was up and on one of the many school buses that came to shuttle athletes and loved ones to Sauvie Island by 5:30am. I read on the website and from previous years blog posts on Run Oregon that the hot ticket is to take the shuttle, with the island being quite small and parking being at a minimum. I am really glad I did! I didn’t have to worry about traffic, getting to the Island on time, or hassling with the parking situation. The shuttles were efficient and super easy to navigate.
When we arrived at the race start, hosted by The Pumpkin Patch it was bustling with activity! Foot Traffic had an entire store set up in case you forgot anything at all… they had you covered! There was food, massage, coffee, a gift shop, a market, bathrooms galore, tents with misters… you name it, they had it! It’s a great place for the start/finish of a race not to mention gorgeous with all the flowers, veggies, and fruit-growing right on the property. I was really in awe and enjoyed walking around checking everything out, chatting with fellow athletes, and reveling in the pre-race excitement… there’s just something about a start line… don’t you agree???
Pretty soon it was time to cheer the full marathoners on as all 356 of them headed out on their race! Their course was a little different then the half marathoners. They started out the same, yet they had a 6.5 mile out and back leg on their course, then they joined our course around the island, which prevented them from having to do a two loop course (which is never fun when doing a full marathon!). Next is was the half marathoners turn! After our National Anthem was sung, all 1535 of us were off! The course was awesome, pretty flat with just two little inclines, but the views were spectacular! Sauvie Island is a gorgeous place to run or ride, as we saw lots of cyclists as well. The locals were out cheering us on and I have to say, the volunteers running the aid stations were energetic, so helpful, and more than willing to douse us with water as it heated up pretty good out there!
After crossing the finish line complete with blaring music, your name being announced, and cheers of hundreds of spectators, we received the customary gigantic medals! As it should be, the finish area was a huge party! Finishers were treated to wading pools full of ice cold water to cool down, bottles of water, free hot dogs with all the trimmings, a band, photo opportunities, massages, and of course the famous Strawberry Shortcake served by the ‘islanders’ as they are affectionately called. It was great to hang out a bit and cheer the other athletes in…(full race results are here). It was a true celebration for everyone’s hard work!
I have to be honest and say that my expectations for this race were pretty high. It was truly a ‘bucket list’ race for me and I almost felt like it was my first half with how giddy I was. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I was so ecstatic that is was everything I hoped it would be! I didn’t really want to leave, but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready to head home. By 10:15 I was sipping coffee and having breakfast in my room! By noon, less that 24 hours of leaving home, I was back in ‘Little Red’ heading south. It was for sure a whirlwind, but one I will never regret!!
I will most definitely do the Foot Traffic Flat again… heck maybe I’ll make it my 4th of July tradition… how about you? Shall we make it a date? I’ll buy the shortcake!! 😉