My Life In Race Shirts: The Starlight Run

Joe Dudman started running road races as a sophomore in high school, circa 1980. Since that time he has accumulated over 650 race T-shirts (Yes, he finally got around to counting them!) Some of them evoke special memories and (hopefully) interesting stories. In this recurring series, he recounts some of them for Run Oregon readers.

My shirt from the 1981 Starlight Run still fits.

The annual Starlight Run is one of the oldest and most popular running events in the Portland area. Part of the Rose Festival, The Starlight Run occurs right before the Starlight Parade, and most of the course follows the downtown route of the procession of marching bands and brightly lit floats, so the crowds lining the streets are large, happy, enthusiastic, and loud. Many participants run in costume, and the runners and the crowd play off each other, generating a festive and energetic atmosphere. I ran the event as recently as last year (2016) and had this to say in our recap:

The Starlight Run is a unique event. Unless you’re the fastest of the fast, there’s no point in racing it hard, because there are no results recorded, and only the top three overall receive awards. And if you run it as a fun run, you really should be sporting a creative costume. The crowds gathered for the Starlight Parade are very enthusiastic and show appreciation for fun costumes, and kids line up along the sidelines for high fives. This is a great event to enjoy with family and friends at a relaxed pace and soak up the atmosphere.

I’m terrible at planning costumes in time for events like this, so when fellow Run Oregon Blogger Robin showed off the elaborate rose costumes she and her husband were making and invited me to join her family, including her two young daughters in bee and ladybug costumes, for the run, I jumped at the chance. I had a great time running and walking with them, and seeing the older daughter break into a huge grin every time she sped up during her first-ever 5k was awesome!

The Starlight Run is also one of my earliest running events. I ran it in high school in 1981 and ’82, right at the beginning of my running career. While not really a race in the traditional sense (only the top three finishers are recorded), The Starlight Run is still such a great experience and spectacle that you can help but feel the adrenaline start to flow. But even if you don’t run it hard, half the fun is coming up with a creative costume, entertaining the spectators, and admiring the ingenuity of the other outfits along the course.

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