The idea behind the wave start was to limit the field of runners to 500 at a time since the gravel trails are the width of a golf cart and can accommodate three runners side by side at the most. It turns out, even 500 people were a lot for these trails to handle. Until the first hill stretched out the field, there was a lot of dodging and weaving and stepping onto the muddy grass golf course next to the trail. It may have helped the first half mile if runners had been directed to line up by expected running pace, or at least ask walkers to start from the back.
The course was tougher than I expected, but very fun and beautiful! The trail around the McMenamins Edgefield golf course has a pea-gravel surface that is easy to run on. My new trail shoes (ed.note: shoe review posting on 2/15) ended up being the perfect choice for this race. The hills were much steeper than I expected, and I (like many others in my pace group) decided to hike up instead of staying at running pace. Since one loop around the golf course is exactly 1.55 miles long (2.5 km), two laps completed the 5k run. I was lapped by the top finisher in my wave just before I completed my first loop.
After crossing the finish line for the second time, I veered to the right towards the finishers party, where I received my finishers medal. At that point, beer tickets were handed to those who were wearing a costume. The vendor tents had samples of energy bars and fruit snacks, REI had set up a nice circle of folding chairs, and McMenamins was serving beer and coffee in the same heated tent that housed the registration and gear check tables. Right next to the tent in McMenamin’s Blackberry Hall, race finishers could choose between two different soups (lentil or barley&mushroom) with rolls to refuel and warm up after the race.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable event! The location is beautiful and the race very well organized. I will definitely consider coming back next year.