Race Recap: 2017 Race For The Roses (Joe’s report)

The 19th Annual Race For The Roses was held on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017.

The 19th annual Race For The Roses on Sunday, April 2nd, was another successful “running” of one of Portland’s signature races. With a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, each with its own start time, the event offered something for everyone, and the impeccable organization, attention to detail, friendly volunteers, and great cause (Albertina Kerr), once again made Race For The Roses an example of a race done right.

Packet pickup at the NE Foot Traffic on Saturday was quick and efficient, and from the looks of it, day of race logistics were just as polished. One of the best things about Race For The Roses is the spacious, warm, and dry staging area inside Exhibit Hall A/A1 at the Oregon Convention Center. Clear signs made it easy to find packet pickup, bag check, refreshments, and even the starting line, as arrows guided runners through the large door toward the start on First Ave.

Throughout the morning announcements kept everyone nicely informed about the start of each race, with first, second, and final calls letting people know when to get ready to go. A cheerful announcer and lively music at the starting line kept the mood light and calmed nerves as the time was counted down. Mild temperatures and a bright blue sky added to the positive atmosphere.

The start of the half marathon at the 2017 Race For The Roses (Joe Dudman photo).

Due to cutbacks in Portland Police Bureau staffing, all three courses were adjusted and simplified from previous years, but were still well-marked with generous amounts of cones and attentive and conscientious course marshals. The 5k leaders began to merge with some of the half marathon pack at the beginning of the Broadway Bridge, but the lead motorcycle officer did a great job riding ahead, letting the half marathoners know over his loudspeaker that we were coming, and politely asking them to make room by moving to the left. This helped reduce what might have otherwise been considerable congestion, as all three races shared the same course for at least the next mile.

There’s always something special about having major downtown streets to ourselves in races like this, and for some reason running down Broadway off the bridge ramp is one of my favorite such stretches (running back up is only slightly less fun) 😉 The out-and-back on 9th Ave. is not quite as nifty, but on Sunday it didn’t seem to drag on too long.

In any race with multiple distances sharing parts of the same course, it’s crucial to inform the runners where the routes diverge, and Race For The Roses did a fantastic job of making the 5k turnaround abundantly obvious. First, there was a large sign placed well in advance of the turn, then a volunteer with either a bullhorn or a booming voice repeatedly called out “5K turnaround here!” And finally, an extra large cone marked the precise turnaround point. In fact, the multitude of closely placed cones throughout the course made it very easy to know where to go.

The only potential course snafu during the 5k had nothing to do with the race itself, but rather a large truck that was in the process of backing into the loading docks at the Moda Center. This was a huge truck, worthy of a 1970s KISS tour (with several similar trucks parked along the street behind it), and it was within a few feet of completely blocking the entire width of Interstate Avenue as we approached. But once again, a valiant volunteer loudly called out to the driver to stop. We were able to slip by with room to spare, and Gene Simmons’ makeup had to wait until after the race to be unloaded [Note: KISS references for humorous effect only; the author has no idea whose equipment those trucks contained].

Once back around the final corner and across the finish line, runners were greeted with the sound of their names, a colorful rose, and a large wooden finisher’s medal, made by beneficiaries of Albertina Kerr’s employment programs for adults with developmental disabilities. The warmth and comfort of Exhibit Hall A was just a few steps from the finish line, and finishers were presented with multiple choices of food and refreshments, as well as padded chairs, computerized results, and offerings from vendors and sponsors. An awards ceremony followed at 10:00am, honoring the top three men and women overall in each race. Age group winners three deep in five-year age groups received handsome coffee mugs with the race logo.

Online results are available for all finishers, including a link to each runner’s finish video. Whatever you do, don’t watch the video of the 3rd and 4th place finishers in the 5k! 😮 😀

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