On Saturday, August 8, runners and wine lover from all over the country descended upon Oregon’s world-famous Willamette Valley for the sixth annual Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. This race does not disappoint in any way. Participants are treated like guests and are given the opportunity to experience the best of the region, beginning with packet pickup, which is held at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville. Although the expo is small in comparison to larger event expos, the vendors are so personable and friendly and truly happy to share their passion with the running community.
Race day begins at the Stoller Winery in Dayton, Oregon. The view from the estate is priceless. Stoller has a long-history in the area and is an amazing location to begin the day’s festivities. Parking is ample and there is plenty of space for runners to relax and enjoy the view before the race, which starts at 7:00 AM. Speaking of the view… watching the sun rise over Mt. Hood in the distance, surrounded by 1500 of your closest running buddies, is a pretty fine way to begin the day!
The race begins on the paved driveway leading up to the winery and meanders along rural country roads, through small neighborhoods, and even gravel farmland passages. Views of vineyards, farms, and forests are abundant. The point-to-point course consists of rolling hills and that gravel section, beginning around mile 10, is the hardest parts of the route. (Though race organizers soften the blow by having a live band play where runners turn to tackle that stretch of the race.) Unique to the event is that it can be run as a two-person relay. The second runners in the relay are bused from the start to the exchange point around the half-way mark.
Die-hard wine lovers will appreciate the “aid” station around mile 8, which is hosted by the Lemelson Vineyards, but several aid stations are situated along the route offering water, electrolytes, and GU. For those that prefer to wait until crossing the finish line before enjoying the local specialty, the Wine & Music Festival is the highlight of the event!
Nearly 30 wineries from the region showcase their wines ranging from crisp Chardonnay’s to earthy Pinot Noir’s. Each race participant receives a wine glass and free tasting of all the wines. Additional glasses and tastings can be purchased for family and friends and for the beer lovers; Lagunitas Brewing Company was on-site too. You can also enjoy live music, visit the sponsors and vendor booths, or take a stroll through Carlton, where quaint little shops and restaurants line the street just beyond the finish line.
Destination Races truly goes above-and-beyond. Their attention to detail and extra special touches make this event one that stands out! Case in point: check out the race bibs and finishers medals!
For the wine-loving runner, the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon is not to be missed!