Race recap: 2015 Hoopla Fun Run, Salem

The Hoopla Fun Run 5k and 10k took place on a beautiful Friday evening in Salem, with a fun and winding course around the State Capitol grounds and the Willamette University campus. The race was part of the Hoopla basketball event that had multiple portable basketball courts set up on the capitol mall and along the appropriately named Court St. The event was presented by the Salem Kroc Center, and was a benefit for Liberty House, a child abuse assessment center. When I arrived, and throughout the evening, basketball players of all ages were engaged in games and shoot-arounds on every available court. As a repressed team sports player whose talents led him to run races by default, I was really itching to spend the night blissfully shooting baskets rather than push my limits in the 5k, but I knew what I was really there for, so I pinned on my number, did a short warmup, and familiarized myself with the start-finish area right in front of the capitol steps.

Basketball players take to the court in front of the Oregon State Capitol building.

The lead cyclist introduced himself, told me where the starting line was, and gave me a general description of the course, assuming I would be in or near the lead. No pressure! I had studied the course map, with its many twists and turns, outs-and-backs, and cross-overs, and I was glad to have someone leading us. There were actually two lead bikes, one for the 5k and another that continued for the second loop of the 10k.

Hoops as far as the eye can see along the Hoopla Fun Run course on Court St.

In addition to guiding us along the course, the lead cyclist also shouted alerts to the basketball players to clear the courts as we approached. When a simple verbal warning wasn’t enough, he sounded an air horn to get their attention. Since we sometimes ran right down the middle of the streets shared by the hoopsters, the lead bikes were a very welcome feature of the event.

At one point about a half-mile into the race, the lead biker told me to let him know if I wanted him to speed up. Ha! There was no danger of me overtaking him at that point.

As we turned onto Court St. for a second time and ran the gauntlet of the basketball games again, I was hoping to receive a pass and get a rare chance to shoot a basket mid-race. I made the universal gesture for “pass me the ball” a couple times, but all the budding Kobe Bryants decided to keep their own dribble alive, and I never got a chance to show off my deadly jump shot. Early on though, I saw my friend Keely shoot a layup on the run out of the corner of my eye, so some would-be Magic Johnson must have given her an assist.

Post-race group photo in front of the capitol building.

The course was a fun tangle of paths and sidewalks and closed-off streets that kept things interesting. In addition to the lead bikes, arrows marked the turns (and even when to continue straight) and volunteers were stationed at most of the important intersections and crossings. Still, there was some potential for confusion if you weren’t paying complete attention.

A final run down Court St., into the Capitol Mall, and across the finish line in front of the capitol, and it was time to sit on the steps and catch your breath. I often find some steps to sit on after a race, but how often do you get to sit on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol building?

As I headed back toward the mall for the post-race activities, I retrieved an errant basketball and took a couple shots. The first was an embarrassing brick, but the second was nothing but net. I felt pretty good about shooting 50% right after finishing a strenuous 5k on a warm summer evening.

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