Advance packet pickup for Country Girl was only available on Friday, so I was relying on the fact that the lines on race morning wouldn’t be too long to get my bib and shirt. As is my usual, I was aiming to be at the start line about an hour before the start when the early sun was lighting up the fog rising from the meadows and parking in the adjacent lot was still plentiful. Packet pickup was quick, and I had plenty of time to browse the vendor booths, get some water, drop off my sweater at the gear check, and use the bathroom.
The first race of the morning was the kids race. It was great fun watching the excited kiddos run their half mile race and receive their finisher’s medal. When start time for the half and 10k came closer, race organizers asked us to gather at the north end of the parking lot to cross the street as a group to fill the starting chute. Half marathon pacers (many of them men in colorful costumes and sparkly skirts) were already waiting in the chute as runners filed in. We may have been held in the staging area a little bit too long, since for me there wasn’t any wait at all before the starting horn was blown. (The 5k would have started while I was out on the course and away from the startline.)
The first three miles of the 10k course were an out-and-back on NE 33rd and Elrod Dr. NE 33rd Dr had one lane and the shoulder closed off for the runners, while two-way traffic was still driving next to the closed lane. Flaggers and lots of cones made me feel safe and confident that the cars would not bother the runners and walkers. An aid station was set up just after mile 1, and we passed it again just before the mile 2 mark. Around the mile 3 mark we passed the startline again, which also had a water/electrolyte station set up. About 1/4 mile north of the startline, runners and walkers veered left to join the Scenic Marine Drive Path heading east.
That’s when the really beautiful vistas came into view! The length of the PDX runway and the airport tower were right there along with Mount Hood in the distance. Another half mile down the path we crossed Marine Drive (and had another water station) and were now running on the river side of the road. The water was calm, blue, and gorgeous! I don’t often stop for pictures during races, but couldn’t help myself here. The 10k turnaround point was well labeled and staffed with volunteers who reminded half marathoners to keep going. I turned around, happy that I was now 3/4 of the way through the race! Past the water station a second time (making it five opportunities for water and electrolyte drink on the 10k course), across Marine Drive and back to 33rd Dr, and the finish line came into sight. I had enough left in me to speed up towards the finish, and happily accepted my finisher’s necklace, a cup of water, and a banana.
I crossed the street back to the start/finish, where a live band was playing favorite country music songs. I picked up my checked gear back, picked up a Lagunitas beer (there also was the option of mimosas or Two Towns cider) and a plate of pancakes, sausage links, and bananas. I recovered and refuled at one of the standing height tables while watching other runners finish their races. Overall I was very happy with the event! The start/finish was organized very well, the parking lot was plenty big, the course marked very well and supported, and the shirt is a very comfortable “everyday wear” soft cotton/poly shirt. I would definitely recommend this race to others!