Race Recap: 2016 Terrapin Bridge to Brews 8k (Portland)


It was a cool but dry morning when over 3,000 participants gathered at Waterfront Park in Portland for this year's Bridge to Brews 8k/10k event. I had found street parking just a few blocks from the start/finish area between the Morrison and Burnside bridges, and with less than an hour before the start, went to stand in line for packet pickup right away. While I was in line, an Alcohol Monitor offered to check people's IDs in order to expedite the start of the beer/wine/spirit tasting after the run. After collecting my bib, event shirt, and some samples from vendor tents, I decided to take advantage of bag check so that I wouldn't have to hold anything while running. Terrapin has reusable linen bags at the gear check (which they take back afterwards and use at their next event), but if you bring your own bag, you can just drop that off directly. 

When it got closer to the 8:40am start time for 8k and 10k, I headed towards the Burnside Bridge listening for announcements. I was happy to see pace sign holders in the crowd of runners, and instead of the more common “10+ min” category at the end, there was a separate “12+ and walkers” sign, which helps middle-of-the-pack runners like me not get stuck behind a group of walkers. I heard no announcements for the start, but soon the pack began moving forward. Runners were sent off in waves to alleviate congestion on the course. When it was my turn to cross the start line, the field was stretched out enough that I felt I had room around me to run my own pace without impeding anybody else.

Before any race, I tend to study the course map in detail so that I know what to expect. The first mile was flat and easy, but I had to watch out for uneven ground due to rail tracks or potholes in several spots. At the one mile mark, just before turning right onto the I-405 ramp, was a water station offering water and electrolyte drink (but I wasn’t able to tell which volunteer was offering which drink). The second mile was a steady and gradual uphill onto the Fremont Bridge. Views of Downtown and the river were very nice and several participants stopped for pictures on the bridge. Unfortunately it was a cloudy morning and I didn’t see any mountains in the distance. Mile three was rolling down then up the Kerby Ave off-ramp with a hairpin turn to the south. A group of musicians cheered runners along. The next water stop was right after the 3 mile mark, but I wished that it had been located half a block farther down at the crest of a hill rather than on a downhill stretch of the course. Mile 4 was really good for my overall average pace, since it was mostly downhill and flat along the Moda Center. The last mile took us up onto the Steel Bridge and then offered a really nice downhill off the bridge towards the finish line.

The finish line festival was very well organized. Right after the finish line we had a chance to get some water and bananas. Back in Waterfront Park, the first tent I came across was the cup and token pickup where I traded the tear tag from my bib for a plastic beer mug and ten tasting tickets. I picked up my checked gear from the gear tent, and proceeded south towards the vendors (along the right/west edge of the grass) and the beer/wine/spirit tastings on the left/east side. At the far south of the finish area was a stage with a band and some tables for people to congregate with their food and drink. Awards were read pretty soon as well. The lines for tastings became long pretty quickly, so instead of getting ten individual 2oz tastings, I chose a full mug (for four tickets) of my favorite beer, then enjoyed free samples from vendors (my kids are loving the Star Wars VII movie poster!), and got my mug refilled (for another four tickets) with alcohol-free Kombucha.

By the time I made it back to the registration tent, results were getting posted (full results can be found here), and I could double check my age group finish. Not even close to winning anything, but very happy with my strong finish nonetheless, I headed back to the car to go home. Overall it was a wonderful way to spend my Sunday  morning. The weather cooperated really well, and the entire event was organized really nicely. I would recommend Bridge to Brews to anybody!

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