The inaugural Cottage Grove Half Marathon took place on Saturday, March 5th, 2016. The weather forecast was set to be rainy and windy, with more rain and wind creeping in as the day progressed. I do enjoy running in a storm, so I was prepared to ready to tackle any weather Mother Nature threw at me.
Arriving at Bohemia Park, I was thankful to see there was ample parking available. Overflow parking was also available on the nearby streets. Prior to race morning, two packet pick-up opportunities were available; one on Thursday at Run Hub Northwest, and the other on Friday at Village Green Resort and Gardens. I stopped by Run Hub Northwest Thursday to retrieve my race goodies, and really appreciated the opportunity to get my packet in advance. Race day packet pick-up was also available, and the line always seemed short and continually moved. Included with your registration was a beautiful event technical shirt, a finisher medal and a beverage coupon for a complimentary beer (21+) at the finish line.
As the event was a point-to-point course, we caught a shuttle that took us from Bohemia Park to the start line, at Dorena School. It was a treat to have access to the gymnasium prior to the 9 a.m. start, as we were able to stay warm, dry, and have access to both flush toilets and porta-potties. About 10 minutes prior to the start, the race director filled us in on some pre-race announcements and information. The finish line was moved from Bohemia Park to Trailhead Park due to the course being re-measured. This wasn’t an issue at all, as the two parks are across the street from each other.
Promptly at 9 a.m., we were off and running. The first (approximately) mile was on paved streets. Plenty of emergency vehicles and race vehicles were on the road keeping runners safe through this small stretch, until we reached the Row River Trail, where the remainder of the course traveled. Over the course of the 13.1 miles, we experienced a net loss of over 200 feet – this course really was flat and fast.
Aid stations were evenly spaced roughly every three miles, with a total of four stations available. The volunteers at the aid stations were incredibly nice, and well organized! Thank you so much, volunteers! In addition to water and electrolyte, three of the aid stations had a combination of fruit, gels and/or energy bars.
The entire course was stunning. Running along Dorena Lake was gorgeous, and seeing so many wild animals in their natural environment. One of the Ham Radio operators, who were scattered along the course at aid stations and on bicycles, told me he had just seen a pack of elk wandering on the course. At any interchange were we needed to briefly cross the road to continue the trail, certified flaggers were present. The amount of support on course keeping participants safe was impressive.
Nearing the finish line, you could hear the music and announcer bringing participants across the line. Mother Nature held the rain and wind back, as I was only sprinkled on for the last 3 miles. United Way staff was on site handing out gorgeous finisher medals to all participants. Post-race food was provided, and The Brewstation was on site providing post race beverages to those 21+. A handful of vendors were in the park, too.
I enjoyed everything about the inaugural Cottage Grove Half Marathon. This will definitely be an event you will want to consider adding to your 2017 race calendar. The event this year was also walker friendly, with a 4 hour time limit. Total finishers this year was just under 150. I expect that number to at least double next year! Great race!