A good cause (Albertina Kerr), a (somewhat) unique downtown Portland course, great organization, and a convenient setting are all part of what make Race For The Roses one of my favorite annual Portland racing traditions. This year’s race took place on Sunday, April 17th.
I took advantage of early packet pickup at Fleet Feet, but with the roomy and warm Convention Center staging area on race morning, day-of-race pickup would have been just as easy. Very few Portland area races have such a comfortable pre- and post-race set-up. A large exhibit hall at the Convention Center contained everything from bag check to vendors booths to food and drinks, all in a warm. dry, and roomy environment, literally just steps away from the finish line.
The weather on race morning was ideal, sunny and cool, making the short two-block walk to the starting line pleasant and relaxing. The half marathon took off first, and then the announcer kept the rest of us informed that the 10k would be starting around 15 minutes late due to a bridge lift. Holding the start to take into account bridges or trains is always appreciated, as getting stopped mid-race is much worse, and the frequent announcements were very helpful.
I wandered over to the start a little early to warm up and watch the start of the 10k, and before too long it was time for us 5k runners to line up. I noticed some fast women toeing the line, and one of them, a familiar face from Team Red Lizard, took control of the race quickly, moving into the overall lead by the time we began to cross the Broadway Bridge.
As we headed north on 9th Ave. and joined Naito for a short out-and-back we started to catch up with the trailing edge of the 10k pack. It never got too crowded though, as the lead motorcycle and the well-coned course kept everybody well organized.
Coach Rick from Team Red Lizard appeared on Naito, passing on splits and advice to the lead Lizard woman, and assuring me that I was ahead of pace for the time I had told him was likely for me. I felt pretty good as we headed south on Naito and passed under the Broadway bridge, but I knew the climb up and over the Steel Bridge was looming.
I turned the corner onto the Steel Bridge ramp, taking a quick peek over my shoulder and seeing no one too close behind. I tried to maintain some semblance of pace as I climb up onto the bridge, but realized I was unlikely to be caught at this point, even if I slowed a little.
I crested the bridge, and tried to convince my tired legs that the finish was “just around the corner”. I saw the finish arch and started a final push to the line just as I suddenly saw another runner bearing down on me. “Dang it, I AM going to be caught, despite my best efforts!” I thought, as he surged past me at the line.
I accepted my rose and my cool large, hand-made wooden finisher’s medal, and staggered into the convention center. As I tapped the other runner on the shoulder and extended my hand in congratulations, I noticed he had a different colored bib number, and it dawned on me that he was in the 10k!
The weather was lucky, but everything else about the 2016 Race For The Roses was well-planned and nicely executed, as usual!
For full results of all three races, click HERE.