I love small races, especially when they support a good cause. The Hubbard Hop Fest Fun Run is organized by the North Marion Elementary School parents group, which is raising funds for a new sound system for the school. The morning of the race gave us a beautiful clear sky, and the temperature when I left my house at 7 was in the mid 50s. Perfect! I arrived at the race location at Rivenes Park in the heart of Hubbard about half an hour before race start, which gave me plenty of time to pick up my race packet, drop off the new shirt at the car, and be back at the start to warm up. There was street parking available really close to the start; so close in fact that if I had stayed for the Hop Fest Parade at 10am, I would have been “locked in” by the parade route.
In Rivenes Park, vendors were setting up for the Hop Fest (scheduled to open at 10am) and the Saturday Market, and there was also a playground where young spectators and kids run participants were passing their time. At the packet pickup there were printed maps of the 5k and the 10k courses, so I re-familiarized myself with the directions, in case there was any question along the way. Shortly before 8am we were asked to gather up for the imminent start, and were sent off promptly at 8. The first two turns of the course had been announced at the start line but were not very well marked. Thankfully the race leader knew the right way and I didn’t see anybody off course. The first crucial turn came about half a mile into the course, where a volunteer pointed the 10k runners to go straight and the 5k-ers turned right.
The next stretch of the course was along a country road with hardly a shoulder, and while we should have been running on the left side of the road, everybody stayed on the right. Since the course was a clockwise circle with many right turns, staying on the right side cut down on road crossings. (If the course was reversed, left side running and left turns would work well together.) At about 1.3 miles, we turned north onto Boones Ferry Rd, where the volunteer was encouraging and a young child was manning a water station. Boones Ferry Rd has a quite wide shoulder, so running on the right side worked alright.
At two miles, we needed to turn sharply right onto Mineral Springs Rd, but there was neither a sign nor a volunteer, but I don’t think anybody went off course. (I found out later that a group of eight volunteers, who the RD was expecting, did not show up and caused some last minute scrambling.) This last stretch of the course was again on a narrow road with a very small gravel shoulder, but we soon reached the edge of town, and after a run around the block, I reached the finish. Volunteers handed out ice cold water bottles right after the finish, which was lovely.
Thanks to Huber Timing, results were available immediately after finishing. The race director waited for the top finishers (male and female) to complete the 5k and the 10k, and she awarded prizes to the top two finishers in each distance (for a total of eight prizes given out). As I was getting ready to go home, more kids were signing up and getting themselves ready for the kids run. Walking to my car I also saw spectators starting to line the streets for the parade (at least their lawn chairs were keeping their spots).
Overall it was a very nice event. As mentioned above, the race director had to improvise a little due volunteer no-shows, but the course was straightforward enough that it didn’t cause too much confusion. According to my Garmin, the 5k course was a little bit short (right at 3.0 miles), but the 10k seems to have been right on. A one block detour on the 5k-only portion of the course could bump up the distance without throwing off the 10k. Chip timing is a bonus a small race like this, and the shirt is a nice one that I know I will wear in the future. I can definitely recommend the event!