Matt’s first Triple Race Day: A recap of the Cherry Blossom 5k, Salem Paddy Pint 5k, and Run to Get Lucky 15k!


During the years of writing for Run Oregon, I have had the opportunity to try to do a lot of cool things. I have been able to run all over Oregon, as well as in multiple other states as well. I have run almost every distance from a one-miler all the way up to a marathon (look out ultramarathon – I’ll be coming for you eventually). One cool thing that I can now cross off my list is the rare “Triple Race Day”,

Typically, the most likely instances where this opportunity presents itself are New Year’s Day (where there is typically at least one race that starts near midnight), or Thanksgiving (where there’s a glut of races going on). However, my triple occurred on a seemingly random date – Saturday, March 18, 2017. The stars (and times) aligned, as I was able to participate in the Cherry Blossom 5k and Salem Paddy Pint 5k, both races an hour apart AND just a few blocks away from each other in Salem. I finished up with the Run to Get Lucky 15k in Corvallis, made possible by their late 1pm start time. It was definitely an experience, and a little lesson in humility.

Cherry Blossom 5k (9am) – Oregon State Capitol

The Cherry Blossom 5k began at the Oregon Capitol Mall and was the first main event to kick off the day’s Cherry Blossom Festival. I was planning on running the triple-looped race around the capitol building and mall with my 7-year-old, but heavy rain forced a morning decision to leave her at home (which proved to be an excellent decision. Even with the downpour, I was impressed with the number of participants who showed up. We were greeted with some fantastic Taiko drummers before hitting the sidewalks. Check out Geli’s full recap of the event, but I imagine that this event, now in its second year, can, and should, continue to grow – especially if the weather is not horrible and the cherry buds are in bloom.

Salem Paddy Pint 5k – Riverfront Park

Following a 6th place finish, I quickly got in my car and drove 5 blocks east to Salem’s Riverfront Park for the Salem Paddy Pint 5k. This event was put on by Kristen Smith Family Dentistry and there was a lot buzz for the race that supported the Dental Foundation of Oregon and the Tooth Taxi.

I arrived about 15 minutes prior to the race start and was glad that I picked up my bib the day before and had it already attached to a new shirt. The precipitation by that point had, somehow, picked up steam and a steady wind was contributing to a sideways rain that wasn’t all that pleasant. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I was once again surprised by the number of runners out to participate! We may have all been huddled together under the largest picnic shelter, but that didn’t stop the energy or the smiles from shining through. The course was pretty straightforward – made easier by the fact that I run this route as part of my lunch break about 4 days/week. We started by heading north from the park and crossing over the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge. There was a loop around Wallace Marine Park before returning the bridge and finishing up with a loop through Riverfront Park.

On a personal note, my performance was pretty good all thing considered. Even though I had only run 3 miles prior to this one, even a little 15 -20 minute break made my feet a little heavier. I was about a minute per mile slower in this race, knowing that I still had 9+ miles staring me in the face. But more importantly, the race was really well-organized, with happy volunteers at the main locations, and a great post-race beer and food spread provided by Sparky’s Brewing. This first year event saw just shy of 250 participants, and I anticipate it would have been more if not for the weather keeping DOR registrants away. This race is highly recommended.

Run to Get Lucky 15k – Downtown Corvallis

After driving home briefly to change my clothes, I made the 45 minute drive to Corvallis for my third race of the day. Miraculously, the rain dissipated and there were even some blue skies overhead. Best in the West Events, who puts on this event as well as a variety of others through the year, really had things organized. 1st Street in Downtown Corvallis is a pretty awesome place to start a race. There are tons of great restaurants and breweries within walking distance, it overlooks the Willamette River, and is part of a paved trail that is great for kicking off connections into a wide array of Corvallis’ other parks.

The race started right on this path, and tents were set up for packet pick up, bag drop, and even just for hanging out. Irish music was blaring and the MC was fantastic. Us 15k runners took to the trails first. There had been a couple of course alterations in the days leading up to the event due to the never-ending onslaught of rain causing some trails to become impassable. These were communicated quite well, and I was a fan of the entirety of their course. After leaving the main path and heading underneath the overpass, there were a few turns with multiple arrows. This was due to the course returning to this spot before heading in a different direction. While this could have proved disastrous and confusing, volunteers were on their A-game in directing runners in the right direction.

First, we crossed over into Pioneer Park, followed by a trek and turnaround in Avery Park. Sidewalks were small in some sections, but in the instances where there was a road right nearby, cones were out and the volunteers made it clear that it was “road on the way out, sidewalk on the way back”. It worked out to perfection.  After returning to the overpass, we were then directed out along Crystal Lake Drive and meandered over to the Crystal Lake Sports Fields and Kendall Natural Area and its great paved trails. I had run a race here once a few years prior, and was excited to be back. It offers some great views of the Willamette, and also has some hilly sections as well.

It was about at this time that I really started to struggle physically. In keeping with the theme of “threes”, it was like I was having an internal triangular conversation. My body was telling me that it had little left to give, my heart was confused and was telling me that I should be moving faster, and my brain was attempting to remind the rest of me that this was race #3 and would be putting in 15+ miles so to take it easy. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this dialogue ever ended up coming to much of a confusion, but my race pictures (which I will NOT be sharing here) seem to indicate that the struggle was real.

There was one small section within the Kendall Natural Area that was on a gravel/mud mix and definitely provided some adventure to the otherwise paved race. We actually ended up traversing the entirety of the trail before doubling back and heading back the way we came. If you ever get an opportunity to run or race in Corvallis, I recommend this location.

With each passing mile, my times got slower and my feet heavier. I was thrilled to be back on the main path for the sprint (or something) to the finish. Even with my marathons I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier to have completed a race than this one. It put a 15.55 mile total on my day and the atmosphere was just fantastic. Music was blaring, local restaurants were serving food and 2 Towns Cider and Block 15 Brewing were providing drinks. Winners were receiving awesome flower planters for placing and it just had a fantastically festive feel. Add in a sprinkling of sun, and you have a great day. This race comes highly recommended by yours truly.

All-in-all, I am happy to have completed my “triple”, but I’m not really in any rush to do it again. However, the three races I was able to participate in really made it a day I won’t soon forget.

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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