I happened to have a friend in town that I was trying to get signed up for one of the races that make Oregon so great. She ran the Pints to Pasta 10k and didn’t experience too much of the negatives from that event, thanks to my husband and his neurosis about arriving to races extremely early. However, she wasn’t too impressed with her personal race thanks to a minor back strain. I’d been wanting to take her to see Hood River, so when I put it together that she could run the Goddess 10k and then we could spend the day drinking Full Sail Beer and eating at Mike’s Ice Cream, I emailed Paula to see if she could use a volunteer. Her response: “REALLY!!!!! That is awesome!!”
I recruited Joe Dudman to come with us, so when it was still dark out, the three of us hit the road. A quick Starbucks stop and we were on our way. We arrived with plenty of time, thanks in part to the efficient parking volunteers, and walked the quarter-mile or so to the start area. The music created excitement as women greeted friends, warmed up, and enjoyed the view. While Taylor headed off for her pre-race ritual, Joe and I got our volunteer shirts (bright pink with Paula’s logo and the word “VOLUNTEER” on them), bags, and met up with our ride to the aid station. We were assigned to the Fish Hatchery aid station, along with students from Reynold’s High School’s AVID program, which helps students prepare for college and career training. I was technically “in charge,” but the students did such a great job, I really had nothing to worry about.
The race started on schedule and before long, the first women were approaching the aid station. We were about a quarter mile before the 10k turnaround, which was only about 50 meters from the infamous stairs on the half marathon course. A quick look at the elevation profile for the course shows you that the stairs (just past mile 3) are not the only climb – they’re just the most notorious.
Luckily, all those climbs turn into descents after a while and the last two miles of this race are a nice downhill. There are plenty of aid stations on the route (eight of ’em), all staffed with cheering volunteers, cowbell, and supportive words from other participants.
In addition to Luna bar snacks and Glukos on-course, finishers all received a Goddess necklace from Run Molly Run and a really good-looking race shirt (women’s cut, of course) in a deep cranberry wine color with the signature race logo wings on the back.
All of the women (and men) that came through our aid station seemed to be having the time of their lives, smiling, laughing, and cheering each other on. There were many runners dressed in Greek Goddess gear and really cool gold temporary tattoos. My friend, who was disappointed that the 10k turnaround was before the stairs, later said, “On second though, the race was amazing enough without having to go up the stairs.” (This was also after I made her climb the Hood River stairs, so … )
All of the women we talked to said they definitely wanted to come back to the Bridge of the Goddess race for it’s amazing views, challenging course, and supportive atmosphere. Next year, I’m thinking I might as well just stay overnight in Hood River! The 2016 Bridge of the Goddess has been set for Saturday, September 17 at 8a. Registration isn’t open yet, but keep an eye out – Run Oregon will let you know!