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Race Recap: 2015 Inaugural Country Girl Half Marathon and 10k (Portland)

Finisher's Necklace

First time events can be tricky, since organizers don't know how many people to expect and how plans will work out, while prospective participants don't have any word of mouth stories to rely on when deciding to sign up. Terrapin's inaugural Country Girl Half Marathon and 10k on September 17th delivered, and was a very well organized event on a brand new (to me) and beautiful course. Visit the results page for 10k results and half marathon results

The race start/finish area was at the Kliever Memorial Armory on NE 33rd St, just west of the Portland Airport. South of the start was a big lot, which offered parking within just steps of the event. I typically aim to arrive at a race an hour before the start, and I’m glad I read the pre-race email thoroughly since the start time posted on the website was half an hour earlier than the time I had copied into my calendar from the registration confirmation email. I got slightly lost on the way to the start, but it gave me a beautiful view of the sun rising behind Mt Hood!

Around the start, one lane of traffic was closed for runners, the center turn lane was converted to being the southbound lane, and the northbound lane was open. Many signs warned of an event in progress and runners on the road, and the few non-race related cars that came by went slowly and carefully.

I picked up my packet with no wait time at all, pinned on my number, got some coffee, and stood in line for the bathroom while the lines were still short. It was a chilly morning, so I kept my warm coat on as long as possible. I considered using the gear check, but with parking so close by, I went back to the car to drop off all unneeded items. The number of porta potties proved to be too low for this all-women’s event, and when the scheduled start time came close, an announcement was made that the start would be delayed by about 15 minutes to allow everybody to go through the bathroom line.

The start was a mass start of nearly 500 runners for both distances. Half marathon pacers were holding up their pace signs so that participants could properly position themselves in the pack. We started out heading south on 33rd for just over a mile before reaching the turnaround point. Initial course maps had shown separate turnaround points for the 10k and half, but I’m glad that both distances turned at the same spot to avoid confusion.

After 2.5 miles, we were passing the start line again, where a water station was set up. I also saw a few people taking the chance for a bathroom stop, since there were no lines, and I don’t know that there were bathrooms anywhere else along the course. There was a very slight hill when the bike path passed under the street, and from that point on, we were on a multi-use path. Heading east into the sunrise, it was bright and getting warm on my black shirt. Another slight uphill to cross Marine Drive, where police officers were stopping traffic to keep the course safe for us runners.

Running along the Columbia River

The 10k turnaround was located just past the mile 4 marker and the second water station, giving 10k runners the chance to grab another cup of water or electrolytes right away. The sun was now behind me, the sea breeze gently blowing at me, and the view was breathtaking. The remaining two miles went by quickly; I crossed the finish line with the best 10k time in years and happily accepted my finisher’s necklace.

After the finish, there was water and VitaCoco coconut water available right away. After crossing the street back to the post-race area, I got some free KT taping on my shin at the chiropractor tent, then went to pick up my breakfast food (pancakes, Bliss Nutbutter, bananas, syrup, and chips) and my well-deserved drink (choice of Lagunitas beer or Two Towns hard apple cider). While I was eating my food and chatting with fellow finishers, the band started playing well known country music to match the theme of the Country Girl, and activity around the finish picked up as more and more participants completed the course.

Finisher’s necklace and Marionberry cider

Overall, I didn’t see any big issues with the race organization. A few additional bathrooms would be nice, but the start/finish area, course, food and music all came together for a very well done event. I’ll definitely consider coming back next year.

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