Sometimes you just need to go on an adventure.
When I found out that my 2 girls and I were going to be home alone on short notice, the first thing we did was check out what races were going on that we could go to. Doing stroller races has kind of become our little daddy/daughter outing ritual, and I am lucky that I have such easy-going young ones. When we saw that our best option would be to head to Bend for the WinterFest Snow Wars Royal Run, held in conjunction with the Oregon Winterfest, AND it was supposed to be dry weather – we decided to make a go of it.
The race started at noon, leaving us plenty of time to pack up from Salem, drive over the pass, and get parked outside of the festival grounds near the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The race was held on Sunday, February 14 – the last day of Winterfest and we decided to take a tour of the area first. There was an OMSI kid’s zone, metal workers, and street vendors getting set up. We walked past where the flying dog show and Metal Mulisha motorcycle stunts were going to occur later in the evening, and also checked out some ice carving and fire pit competition contestants. We would spend more time here after the race, but it was a cool (if not a little cramped) set-up.
The race itself was put on by Lay it Out Events, began inside the amphitheater and kicked off with a Star Wars themed costume contest. It was easy to see that this was going to be a relatively low-key event, as there were no timing chips and obstacles were going to be involved. I knew this going in, so I didn’t have any issues with the set-up.
As we lined up at the start, the MC pointed at me specifically and told me that I could skip a few obstacles – he said I would know once I got there. When the gun sounded, we took off through the paths inside the festival before crossing over the bridge into the Old Mill District and onto the paths alongside the Deschutes River. As the festival gates opened at 11am, and we took off at 12pm, the initial paths were not terribly packed and volunteers had done a great job at making sure that us runners could pass through quickly.
Shortly after hitting the paved Deschutes River trail, we came upon obstacle 1 – a pile of tires that needed to be navigated. I stopped to take pictures before quickly using this “skip” to gain some time on the quieter trails as everyone else slowed to pass over the tires. In retrospect, I should have parked the stroller and completed the obstacle before moving on. Oh well.
I have run in Bend enough to be extremely familiar with the trails we were on. After heading into Farewell Bend Park, we crossed over the bridge to the north side of the river and starting heading back to the start. in Riverbend Park, we came across our second obstacle, a brick pull, which I completed with the “strength and determination” of my 4-year-old. OK, she may have had a little help, but she was pumped to talk about how much she assisted with making me go faster.
Not too long after crossing under Columbia Street, we were met with the final obstacle – a climbing wall. I again opted to pass with my double stroller and continue on our second lap. After completing the loop again, we returned to the amphitheater (made a little more challenging this time by needing to navigate and increased number of festival goers) and crossed the finish line. We received an awesome event Libbey Can and a ticket for a free fill at any of the Deschutes or Atlas drink stations on site (Fresh Squeezed, here I come). Results and awards were done about an hour after we finished, which gave us some time to grab some food from local Bend food carts and check out some of the local vendors.
While it was great to be in the heart of the festival for the start and finish, an easier access point to get to and from there, especially when there are people around who were clueless that a race was going on, may be a good idea. But other than that, the race was just a low-key good time. I got to get a run in, spend the day with my daughters, and relax afterwards while they watched all the great events that were part of the festival. A true win-win for the whole family!
The next race by Lay It Out Events will be the 28th annual Salmon Run, held on April 10th in Bend.