Esther Short Park is a great choice for the start/finish area. There is plenty of free parking on the streets and in parking structures on Sunday mornings, the park offers ample space for vendors, food and drink tents, and registration/packet pickup, and there even is a playground for the younger participants and spectators to spend their waiting time. I picked up my race packet, which went very quickly, and was very pleased with the black long sleeve tech event tshirt! It was still rather cold, so after pinning on my race number I held on to my swag bag while visiting the vendor booths. I dropped it off at the gear check when I was ready to shed my puffer coat in preparation for the race start.
After lining up by pace, the National Anthem was played, and we were sent off (in two waves) promptly at 10am. I really liked the course for this 5k: The first half mile took us through the downtown area with a steady uphill towards the I-5 crossing bridge. Once we entered the “Officer’s Row” area of Fort Vancouver, the course was flat and gently downhill. Water and gatorade were offered at the aid station near the mile 2 marker. Crossing Hwy 14 on the pedestrian overpass it was important to step on the sunny parts of the wood boards since the shaded surfaces still had some frost on them. We ran along the Columbia River for a few steps while crossing under I-5, then a gentle uphill for the final three blocks brought us back to the finish line.
Right near the finish line, water was available to finishers along with sports drinks and coconut water. The food tent was open and offered peanut butter sandwiches (to which I added a snack bag of dried cranberries), bananas, and energy bars. The rum garden was also open, and the line was not too long yet when I queued up (although it was quite long as I was preparing to leave). Each runner had two drink tags on their bibs: one for a Kraken hot buttered rum, the other for a pint of beer from GhostRunner.
I checked my results (printed out and updated as more finishers came in), and since it was clear that I wasn’t even close to winning an award, I decided to not stick around for the awards and the kids races. As I have come to expect from Energy Events, this race was very well organized, course nicely marked, volunteers in the right spots, and met and exceeded what I was hoping to experience. I can definitely recommend this race!