Pre-race, numerous volunteers directed cars to available parking; there was no problem finding a spot. I had both kids with me; my husband had left our house much earlier and was planning to meet us there after his long run. We quickly headed inside Portland Running Company to stay warm, and I found the bib pick-up line (does two people make a line?) to get my packet. I also found two other Run Oregon bloggers: Teresa Wymetalek and Joe Dudman, or “Uncle Joe” as my kids know him. The series shirts are Super Cute – a bright blue with the name written on it is a deep pink. My daughter is wearing it in the picture below, if you can see the colors. (Her coat is the same color as the shirt.)
At 8:50, an announcement encouraged everyone to head out to the start line set up on Gemini Ave, just off Nimbus. The race was chip-timed, so since I had the running stroller (with just my three-year-old; hubby took the little guy shopping during our race), I started in the back. Uncle Joe decided he would run with us (he was not very motivated to race hard in the cold, so he didn’t take much convincing!), so shortly past the start line I asked him if he wanted to push the stroller so we could keep our pace up. We passed a lot of people in that first 3/4 of a mile – fortunately the race had a full lane coned off and there was plenty of room to pass people without clipping anyone’s ankles.
The route joined Nimbus and then made a quick turn on Creekside, from which we entered the park and joined the Fanno Creek Trail, quickly passing the 1-mile marker. That picture up above? That area was about 50 meters in from where we got on the path; fortunately it had receded and was now a manageable puddle. As a matter of fact, none of the puddles on the course was deep enough to get into my shoes, and I just ran straight through all of the puddles that spanned the entire path.
The course followed the path into the main trail, where we turned right and headed towards Hall Blvd, making the hard left before reaching the road and heading back south a bit. There was one section along here where deep puddles lined both sides of the trail, so runners crowded into the center, but there was plenty of room for a single-file lane going in both directions. Then we hit the detour. A deep puddle (I think someone said seven inches, but I could be making this up) covered the trail near a playground that was set up a little hill, so signage and cones directed us to scramble up the incline, across the wood chips, and then back down on the other side. This was the only place where my feet actually got wet. This was also the place where I was extremely thankful that Uncle Joe was driving! Joe also took the stroller on another little off-road bypass across the muddy grass parallel to a narrow section of path to avoid getting in the way. He felt a little guilty for taking Eliza on a bumpy ride, but she actually enjoyed the jostling, humming along happily as we bounced through the muck.
The turnaround was not far from this playground detour, so we headed back up and around, passing a few people and getting passed by a few others. Participants were extremely supportive going both directions, and I received a lot of “Great job!” comments from those going the other way. Mile 2 was met shortly before exiting the park and getting back on the road, where I caught up to a woman with her left arm in a sling decorated with jingle bells. She had three pins in her arm and was still running strongly (she beat me); and had the energy to joke about how she had been hearing Santa’s sleigh the entire run.
In the last mile, Uncle Joe ran ahead so that he could get Eliza out of the stroller in time to run across the line with us (note: only do this in races that aren’t very crowded!). Some finishers were walking back along the course, handing out high-fives and cheering people in. The finish is after a long, straight section, so you can see the finish arch from at least a half-mile away – I like races like that because you know exactly how far you’ve got left to run.
After the race, participants could pose for a Polaroid in front of the race banner; they were then put in a retro race-photo-folder with the race name written on it. Nice touch. Participants could also get their shirt embroidered right in the store (it just took a minute) so they could mark each Series race in which they participated. We didn’t stick around for the raffle – the little one was getting pretty whiny – but I plan to next month. Besides, we got a coupon for a free half-pound of Peets Coffee beans (with purchase) that I knew my husband was pretty jazzed about.
You can still register for the two remaining PRC Winter Race Series events here; the January race is on the 23rd and the February race is on the 20th. I’m actually thinking about having my birthday party at the next one (I turn 37!!! on the 21st of January), so come celebrate with me! I’ll be shooting for a sub-30 finish again so if that is your goal, this would be a great low-cost event to run with a pacer to reach your goal.
Men’s Open winner: Larry Julson of Newberg, 16:40.6
Men’s Masters winner: John Clifford of Sherwood, 17:51.0
Women’s Open winner: Lauren Elgee of Portland, 19:36.3
Women’s Masters winner: Britney Forster of Portland, 20:31.4