Fall is my favorite season, but among the Uberthons seasonal race events, I’m pretty sure I like the Spring one the best. (Shh, don’t tell the other events; I don’t want them to get jealous!)
For the second year in a row, the Oregon Spring Half Marathon has been staged at Heirloom Roses on Memorial Day Weekend. 399 racers showed up on bright and early on a beautiful Saturday morning, when the temperature at the start of the race was just under 60 degrees.
But let’s start with pre-race packet pickup….
You’ve seen one pre-race packet pickup, you’ve seen them all, right?
Wrong! Taking place at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lake Oswego, this one included the obvious race shirt pickup for half marathoners, but it also included free giveaways: Uberthons gym bags (previously sold for $25!), race shirts from prior events, and finger sandwiches. I’ve got lots of tech shirts already, but I walked out with four more shirts. I was going to stop at two, but race director Darwin Rasmussen ordered me to go back and take some more.
From prior experience at Heirloom Roses, I knew that getting there too close to start time could cause problems, because the first 1 1/2 miles of the course follows the road that you drive in from. Factoring in the 35 minute drive from Portland meant getting up a little after 6 a.m. By itself, that was a small sacrifice for race day. However, the law school graduation ceremony was starting at 11 a.m. that same day, and I really did not want to fall asleep during it (faculty sit in the front two rows, so it would be all too obvious to the important people on the stage).* So I went to bed earlier than usual, and felt all right in the morning.
* Fortunately, we run an efficient graduation ceremony at Lewis & Clark, and I don’t think I embarrassed us by dozing off.
As I neared Heirloom Roses, I could see hot air balloons drifting not too far from where I estimated the race to be taking place. I wanted to get a shot of them while they were still hovering, but by the time I parked on the side of the road, they had all touched down. In the picture right below, though, you can see them in the middle of the field.
I ended up parking about 3/10 of a mile away from the start line, so I had a decent warm up by jogging* from the car. Margo Glass was manning the microphone, getting everyone ready for the race. In past events with multiple distances going up to the half marathon or full marathon, Uberthons has had the shorter distance runners line up on both sides of the course just past the start to give the longest distance runners a clap out send-off. That’s also meant that the shorter distance runners have to/get to chase down the longer distance ones. I kind of liked the challenge of catching all the pacing groups before hitting the 10K turnaround (usually, the 1:45 half pacers just escape me before I have to turn around). On this day, though, Darwin lined up the 5K and quarter marathon runners at the front.
* The only time I think of myself as “jogging,” as opposed to “running,” is when I’m moving from parked vehicle to starting line of a race.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. It was 7:33 when Darwin Rasmussen started us on the race. The Lewis & Clark Law School graduation ceremony was starting in 3 hours and 57 minutes. That sounds like a lot of time, but when you factor in the time to drive back to Portland, to clean up after the race, to get to campus, to change into hood and gown, and to walk to the graduation venue, it’s not that much…. I could’ve run the quarter marathon and had a decent cushion of time, but I chose the 5K so that I could help out afterward with the awards.
The 5K and quarter marathon course at Heirloom Roses is an out and back, and out and back. The second out and back for the 5K is quite short, as the first stretch is close to 3 miles. The half marathon tracks the quarter marathon all the way to the second turnaround for the quarter and then continues into the town of St. Paul, where there’s a small loop, before returning to the finish line.
Last year, I ran the 10K (since replaced by the quarter marathon), so I was familiar with the 5K course. In fact, I had been, in the moment I reached the 5K turnaround, envious of it! Well, today was my chance to enjoy the short but brutal 5K.
Right from the start, there was this lean, compact guy in an orange singlet (Clint Bell) who just rocketed in front. After him, there was a clump of runners – mostly quarter and half marathoners, and me.
The beginning of the course traced a sideways crescent along Riverside Road to Champoeg Road, with a water station just before the turnaround for all distances. It was nearly flat, and close to ideal running conditions.
I started out a little faster than I should have, as I always do, but managed to ease up after the first 1/4 mile. If I could have just replicated mile 1 for the next 2.1 miles, I would have been super-pleased with the result.
Alas, mile 2 was slightly slower. Okay, if I could have replicated the first 2 miles for another 1.1 miles, I would have been pleased with the result.
Riverside and Champoeg roads are both two-lanes – one in each direction – so there was plenty of room on the return even with the hundreds of runners bearing down the opposite way.
Somewhere around the 2 1/2 mile mark, a woman passed me with a cheery “Hi Tung!” greeting, which turned out to be fellow Run Oregon blogger Rachel Peters.
The last stretch of the 5K went just past the starting area and past another water station. I watched the pack of runners ahead of me continue on while I happily did a 180 degree turn. The volunteer at the turnaround told me, “You’re in second place!”
Yea for second place, but if this had been graded on a curve, I think I would’ve gotten a B- or something. The male 5K winner, Clint Bell, finished in 16:24, just over 5 minutes ahead of me. That is pretty sick! Chatting with him afterward, I learned that he and his wife had flown up from Dallas, Texas, for the weekend track events at the University of Oregon, and while planning the trip, came across the Uberthons website.
(Later on, when my dad learned that I had finished second with such a large time gap, he observed that at least I wouldn’t have any regrets about what I might have done differently during the race. I suppose that is right.)
Mmm, Qdoba. With the graduation ceremony scheduled from 11 a.m. to past 1 p.m., I figured this was my chance to eat an early brunch.
The Tex-Mex spread allowed participants to make their own bowls or tacos, with two kinds of rice, beans, and meat each, plus grilled vegetables. I loaded up on brown rice, grilled chicken, and vegetables, plus guacamole and salsa.
While chowing down on the delicious food (and drinking the ice cold lemonade), I headed over to the award table to help Margo Glass. Actually, not just the medals for overall winners, 45+ winners, and 65+ winners, but the age group pins as well. (Those normally would be given out by the indispensable Eileen Kuffner, but Eileen was absent from the event.) As we were both new to this particular role, it took a bit of time for us to figure out the most efficient way to look up results on our smartphones, but we eventually got through the 5K and quarter marathon awardees.
One of the great things about Uberthons events, from the perspective of a non-elite (indeed, non-sub-elite) runner is that the combination of participation in the hundreds as opposed to thousands or tens of thousands plus the 3 deep age group awards in 5 year age brackets means that many participants end up qualifying for an age group pin. It was a really nice feeling to give out so many pins to runners who were genuinely appreciative of the tokens of achievement.
Unfortunately, I had to leave a little after 9 a.m. I did hear the first wave of half marathon finishers being announced while I was helping Margo with the 5K and quarter marathon awards and age group pins. I would have liked to have stuck around to see how my student, soon to be 3L and past and current law student body president Lawrence Pittman, did. Later on, I saw that he was #2 in his age group. Way to go, Mr. President!
As I said at the start, this is probably my favorite of the Uberthons’ seasonal events. I mean, I like them all, and during each actual race, I’m sure there are moments when I think, “This is the best event,” but I’m writing this recap a week afterward, and I still think this is the best seasonal event.
Results and Photos
Half marathon winners
Quinton Read, 1:21:15 (male)
Mallory Beaudreau, 1:30:02 (female)
Quarter marathon winners
Paul Braghero, 43:36 (male)
Erica Manzo, 50:00 (female)
Clint Bell, 16:24 (male)
Sarah Heilman, 22:36 (female)
Full results can be found here. Once you find your own name, click on it and it’ll bring up a separate page with your overall finish, age group finish, age/gender group finish, and another tab listing all past Uberthons-timed results.
For over 500 photos at the start/finish, during the race, and against the “I finished” backdrop, click here.
Upcoming Uberthons races include the Freedomthon (July 4), the Summer event (quarter/half/full marathon) (July 22), the 100K relay (Aug. 19), the Fall event (quarter/half marathon) (Sept. 9), and more.
Disclosure: I’m an Uberthons Ambassador and received a comp entry to this race.