Uberthons kicked off its 2017 racing season on January 21 with the Oregon Winter Half Marathon at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Course. This was the second year of this particular half marathon, along with options for a quarter marathon and 5K, and overall attendance increased by over 50 percent.
Personally, I was chomping at the bit to get out and race after the ridiculous snowfall earlier in the month. The fact that the weather forecast called for temperatures in the low 40s and light showers didn’t deter me at all.
I had a comp entry because Uberthons invited me again to be an Ambassador. The tough choice was whether to run the 5K or the quarter marathon. (Declining the half marathon was easy. I’ve got nothing against half marathons, except I just don’t much like it as a race distance.) The quarter marathon would have come with the enticing auto-PR, since I’ve never raced that distance before. However, my goal for this year is to work on my 5K time, so I went with the shorter, more intense race.
Packet pick-up: This took place at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lake Oswego two days before the race. Pre-race packet pick-up isn’t always exciting, but on this occasion, Uberthons had not only set up a table to sell race shirts from past races for as little as $5, but also set up a nice food spread with chips and salsa and small sandwiches!
(And when Uberthons has pre-race packet pick-up at Big Al’s, it’s definitely worth checking out if you can make it.)
Race day: The half and quarter marathons were set to start at 8:30, but the 5K wasn’t starting until 9, so I timed my arrival at The Reserve for 8:45. That wasn’t cutting it close as far as the race went, but it left me hunting for a parking space. I think I grabbed the last one in the main parking lot. (On my out, I saw that there was an auxiliary lot with cards near the gatehouse at the entrance, so I guess there were runners who were more dilatory than I was.)
It was your typical Oregon winter morning, minus the drizzle, which the clouds were struggling to hold in. All that mattered, though, was the absence of snow!
As I headed toward the staging area, I could see lots and lots of half and quarter marathoners on the course. Because of the way Uberthons lays out its courses at The Reserve, with lots of turns, you are frequently within view of the start/finish.
It was cool but not freezing: close to ideal running temperature. I wouldn’t have minded if it were 5-10 degrees warmer, but it was nothing to complain about.
I followed the sign and headed over to the start line. Race director Darwin Rasmussen was going over the familiar Uberthons motto – “fast people in the front, good-looking people in the back.” I said to Darwin, “Tell me where you want me to line up.” He looked me over and pointed to a spot about ten feet on the other side of the start line, about where Galen Rupp would have started based on his speed. Hey, I’m no Galen Rupp….
Having been placed in the front group, I found myself chasing Chris Fisher from the beginning. At my last race at The Reserve, I had tried to keep with Ross Crowley for as long as I could (keeping in mind that I was running 5K and he was running 15K), and it didn’t work out well for me. I wondered if there would be a similar result today.
About half a mile into the 5K, we started to catch up to some half and quarter marathoners. I let Fisher clear the path while I followed in his wake (heh heh).
Uberthons races at The Reserve take place entirely on the golf cart path, so the footing is usually steady. With so much snow having fallen in Portland the past week, though, the golf course was still swampy, and there was one part of the path that was slick with mud and water. I also heard that the quarter/half marathon route had a stretch where a tree had fallen on the course and been hauled away but not before leaving lots of mud.
I’ve run a lot of races at The Reserve, so I’m very familiar with the standard Uberthons course. Because this 5K tracked the quarter/half marathon course as much as possible, however, it ended up looking a bit different — something I discovered at the 2 1/4 mile mark, when I followed Chris Fisher into a spur that I don’t remember ever taking. Even more confusing was that up ahead, I could see a water/aid station set up in the middle of the path. Hmm, I wondered, was it placed there because the grass on either side was too swampy?
It turned out that this was an out-and-back to correct the distance. Oh, how momentum-draining these straight line out-and-backs can be!
For the entire race, I was about 4-8 seconds behind Fisher. I was also running positive splits (i.e., slowing down), so that meant he was too. If only I’d paced myself better at the start….
The main building at The Reserve loomed in the distance as we entered the final stretch. It had been cold (though not frigid) at the start of the race, but as I neared the finish line, I was feeling comfortable. Not warm, but comfortable. I would’ve liked to have had a better kick at the end and tried to catch Fisher, but for whatever reason, I was gassed. (And no, it was not because I ran a PR, or even close to one.)
Chris Fisher approached me and as we shook hands, he said, “Thanks for pushing me the whole time!”
“Thanks for pulling me along the whole way,” I responded.
Not long after, Pete Hansen finished in third place and congratulated us. “You two seemed like you were just jogging, and I felt like I was going to have a cardiac event,” he said.
Trust me: I did not feel like I was “just jogging”….
The post-race food spread was perfect for a cold winter morning: two kinds of soup, bakery products, fruit, and Noosa yoghurt. Oh boy, was that yogurt good! I like regular (i.e., non-Greek) yogurt and go through phases where I stock up on Tillamook commonly, or sometimes Trader Joe’s, and Noosa has gone to the top of my list. It’s creamy, with a perfect blend of tart and sweet. I wish I’d taken more than one with me!
Oh, the soup was tasty too – I opted for half a small bowl of clam chowder, topped off with a pretzel roll. (If you’re counting calories, well, yeah, that pretty much replaced the calories burned during the run. Whatever.)
No Uberthons race is complete without the award ceremony. Everyone who finished got a finisher’s medal, and those who placed in their age/gender group received a gold, silver, or bronze pin, and finally the top three male and female overall and 45+ and 65+ (top only) finishers received medals. The award ceremonies (for each distance) were fairly informal and conducted in the sheltered tent by Darwin Rasmussen on a staggered basis – 5K first, later quarter marathon, and finally the half marathon.
I didn’t get to run this race last year because I was rehabbing my sore left Achilles tendon, so I was glad I got to experience it this year. If you’ve run a lot of Uberthons events (as I have), it can get hard to say something new, because there’s such a high degree of consistency to them, with lots of attention paid to the crucial details. I did notice that actual participation in this race increased significantly from last year, particularly in the 5K, where the number of finishers nearly doubled from 63 in 2016 to 113 in 2017. The quarter marathon went from 63 to 75, and the half marathon went from 208 to 304.
Results: Full results for all distances can be found here.
Photos: Photos taken of runners with the “I finished” background can be found here.