The first thing I appreciated with this half marathon was that packet pick-up was easy and convenient. They gave you several options, with different locations in the Portland Metro area and, even with a lot of people, it went smoothly. I was in and out within 15 minutes. I didn’t take advantage of the Foot Traffic discount during packet pick-up, or this wouldn’t have been the case. The holiday season is busy enough, so it was nice to have this out of the way a whole week before the race, which I think is a first for me. It was also the first race I wore my shirt before the event too. I know it’s bad luck, but you can only wear a hipster elf shirt through December and I wanted to get some use of it. I really took chances by wearing it race morning as well.
The race started at the Adidas Headquarters in Northeast and participants were shuttled in because there is such limited parking. There was a long line of port-a-potties close to the starting line and I was pleasantly surprised that the wait was short, despite the numbers of people. It was a sea of red and green as you scanned the crowd near the starting line. People were clearly excited to be there, especially when it was announced that Galen Rupp would be joining us. Maybe I shouldn’t say joining us, but he would be running the same course and it’s not every day you see a running celebrity along the route.
I appreciated the 9am start time, not too early, but still early enough to have a full day after the run. From the Adidas campus we headed out towards the University of Portland. It was my first time running this direction, having run this stretch with the Portland Marathon and Rock-n-Roll. While most of the roads remained open, the race officials, volunteers and Portland Police did a great job marking the course and keeping runners safe. Each mile was marked and they have some seriously impressive support along the way with Christmas carolers, cookies and bystanders passing out candy. Like other races, they have the usual water stations and gels along the way too.
With a start and finish at the campus, it was fun to see the people in front of you and behind you, part of why I like out and backs on occasion. I think I might have been close to mile 6 when I saw Galen Rupp fly by in the other direction heading back to the finish line at the campus. Truly impressive and the runners cheered him on as he went by. A little later I saw a man dressed in a full bunny suit, think A Christmas Story. He was pretty much flying too and was equally impressive keeping that time in an bunny suit.
With so much to look at, this run went fast. Maybe not my time, but it seemed like it with so much to distract me. We got a glimpse of the Willamette River from time to time, clever posters to read, fun holiday costumes to admire, and a celebrity sighting and all in just 13.1 miles. The finisher medal was huge and matched our hipster shirts. It was nice to warm up inside the building a little bit and runners mingled in the warming tent with minestrone soup and beer (for those 21 and over).
I waited way too long to give this run a try. It’s extremely well organized and reminded me how fun the bigger events can be with more people to distract you along the way. A fun, flat course with lots of company, the holiday theme is just an added bonus. The Foot Traffic Holiday Half would make a fun holiday tradition, regardless of the weather, which says a whole lot.