Thanks to my German roots, I have felt drawn to the small town of Mount Angel ever since I first passed through it on my way to Silver Falls. I have visited Mount Angel a few times for its Oktoberfest and associated road race, and last weekend was my first visit to its Wurstfest and 5k road race. The day promised to be dry, cool, and sunny, a welcome break from the wet week. I dragged my kids along to enjoy the Wurstfest; we arrived in Mount Angel about half an hour before the start of the race, and I found a parking spot on a side street about a block away from the Festhalle.
It was still quite cool and foggy, and I was glad for packet pickup being indoors. I received my bib and matching timing chip, which I attached to my shoe. We browsed the vendor stands for a few minutes, but most of them weren’t officially open yet. An announcement from the stage instructed everybody to leave the building for the start of the race, and the festival would officially open and start admitting visitors again at 9:45am.
The group of runners and spectators gathered in front of the Festhalle, and that’s where it got just a little bit confusing for a few minutes. The 5k and 10k would start at the same time, but in opposite directions! The respective start lines were marked with cones; the 10k heading south had the timing company’s tent as a marker, while the 5k heading north was marked by the race announcer on a tall latter. We got a countdown from 10 sec, and soon we were off. Initially it was quite crowded on the sidewalk, but soon we reached a side street where we could spread out and more accurately sort by pace than was possible in the blended starting area.
I really like running in Mount Angel. The streets are quiet, the side streets often have friendly residents cheering and supporting the runners, the bigger streets have nice sidewalks that are separated from the street by a 2ft wide grassy strip. The 5k course looked tricky on the map but was easy to follow thanks to volunteers and signs at every crucial turn. The first mile was a zigzag through neighborhoods with a steady gradual incline. Around the half way point there was a water station just before a more significant hill.
At the top of the hill I turned right onto Humpert Lane, thinking that I’m not far from the turnaround to then coast downhill to the finish. But NO! A cheerful volunteer guided us to the left, through a farmyard, up some steep driveways to the forest road along the fence to the St Benedict Abbey. In the shade of the trees I finally reached the highest elevation point of the course, and after my GPS beeped to indicate the completion of mile 2, I turned left onto College Rd to coast back down into town, past the Church of St Mary (which was chiming 10am as I passed it), around the Festhalle and to the finish line.
After the finish, we went into the Festhalle, where the official Wurstfest was now beginning. Runners’ entrance was separate from the general admission entrance, since admission to the Wurstfest was included in registration. We received a Wurstfest 5k/10k pint glass and a drink ticket that I could redeem for any drink at any of the vendors inside. Excited about the German food options, we also got ourselves a Currywurst and Pommes Frites (French Fries) from a food vendor, and some Bavarian Brezel (soft pretzels) from the bakery.
As we left the Festhalle, I saw race results posted outside. Since I didn’t stay near the finish line after finishing (and didn’t stay for a very long time after I finished the race), I don’t know if there was a formal awards ceremony later on.
This race was definitely not the “wurst” race I’ve ever run! Results can be found here.