Knowing that traffic was going to be a struggle, we ended up leaving about 4 hours prior to the start time (7pm). Coming from the south, we hit some slowing near Wilsonville, but nothing truly terrible until just after the 217 cutoff. We jettisoned over to the quiet 405 (unless you were trying to get to Beaverton – then… ugh), and made it with enough time to grab a quick bite in Kenton before heading over to the event.
I was expecting a madhouse with parking, but things seemed really manageable and volunteers were dominating their jobs. The lines for picking up our bibs was semi-long, but seemed to be moving along with a good pace. As runners had to look up their numbers on sheets prior to getting bibs, it could have used a few more of those charts to make it quicker.
For those of you have been to Portland International Raceway, or driven through the Christmas lights there, there is little to surprise to the course. Runners follow the 1.967 mile course through the beautiful lighted displays that adorn the surrounding areas during the month of December. One thing about the course that stuck out right away, was that they seemed to have abandoned their initial plans. In their initial plans, runners would start heading in a clockwise motion and then have a section just before and after mile 2 that appeared to loop back and have runners going in different directions on the same stretch. I remember talking about this with some other bloggers when the course map was made available, and being really concerned about the logistics of this. I was hoping that people wouldn’t just keep plowing into each other head on in the dark chilly night.
However, I noticed right off the bat that we were running counter-clockwise, and would be completing a double loop of the course. This followed the pattern of last year’s event at this course, and I think the change was a good thing. It skipped over that concerning loop back, and allowed everyone get to experience what they came for – the lights! Pushing a stroller and trying to navigate and maneuver from the back of the pack caused me to miss out on a lot of the first stretch of lights, so the second lap (when things were thinned out), I got to catch up and enjoy what I missed. My kiddos also were not disappointed that they got to see the lights all over again. A win-win in my book. (Note: I haven’t been good at keeping up to date on my race emails, so it is possible that Hood to Coast relays sent a pre-race email with the course change and I missed it.)
And by golly, so much swag. All participants (21+) got 2 free Full Sail beers or Barefoot wine, as well as a pumpkin pie, big bags of Duck and Beaver sugar cookies, and race coffee mugs. The two colors of mugs allowed our family to take home two unique ones – sweet!
All-in-all, my little family left cold and tired, yet with smiles on our faces, arms full of stuff, and memories made. My almost 4-year-old is already asking if we can do this again next year. I have a feeling we will be back.
I never should have worried.