The Oktoberfest Road Race in Mount Angel has been a fall running tradition of mine for the past four years now. I love just about everything about this event, and it keeps getting better. This year was the 12th annual race event in conjunction with the 50th annual Mt Angel Oktoberfest celebration, and event organizers added a half marathon to the established 5k and 10k races, and it was a big success. Complete results for all three distances can be found here.
The races start and end at Humpert Park in Mount Angel, tucked in a neighborhood on the east end of town, away from the main road. The half marathon started at 8:05am, and I arrived just as the 165 runners took off, after I easily found parking in the high school parking lot just two blocks away. I picked up my race packet (bib and t-shirt) and warmed up while watching my son play with others on the playground in the park. There were a few vendor tents with samples and coupons, and water was offered under the picnic shelter. German music played, and the occasional announcements kept runners appraised of the timeline.
The 5k and 10k were to start together at 9am, and participants were asked to line up by the start line ten minutes ahead of the start. The National Anthem was played, and shortly after that we were off. This was the first year where there were pace signs placed along the side of the start chute, but many people must not have seen them since the first quarter mile was still a little bit of a dart and dodge situation until people settled into their paces. The field was quite busy with 660 runners, 245 of which were running the 10k loop around the abbey, the rest of them opting for the out-and-back 5k.
The downhill first mile along the hops fields is always gorgeous and quick; I love getting warmed up on the slight downhill. After the turnaround we had to climb up the hill again, and unfortunately there was a little bit of head-on traffic from half-marathoners who were now joining the 10k route. The race course instructions (both emailed and posted at the start line) were very specific about running on the right side of the road on this part of the course, and there even were markings on the pavement, but since runners are creatures of habit, the pack ran along the left side of the road, as they had in prior years. Some cones at the turn onto southbound Humpert Ln could easily solve this traffic pattern issue.
The water station at mile 2.4 was at a great spot and I appreciated the Nuun to perk me up for the last bit of the run. Through the neighborhoods I caught up with the beer keg and hot dog runners, and the witty remarks thrown at them from spectators cheered me on along the final loop through the neighborhood. I finished just 45 seconds shy of my sub-30min goal, but was very happy with my Oktoberfest 5k course record and fastest 5k finish time in two years. I’ll definitely be back next year!