I finally got to run the Huckleberry Half Marathon on August 5th, after having it on my wish list the last several years. Summer is always busy and it’s a bit of a drive from the Portland area, but this run is definitely worth planning ahead. It’s not a fancy event with impressive swag, but a good old-fashioned run with a beautiful course. I have enough race shirts to last me a lifetime and some and I don’t’ run for the bling, so I think a pretty, no-nonsense run is perfect. Registration was quick and painless and their volunteers were amazing. When I picked up my packet and gave them my name, they knew I was there for the half, not the 10k or 5k. At first I was impressed, then I was nervous that it might be because there were only a handful of people running it.
I was relieved to see a decent turnout lining up at the start line, the volunteer giving us a quick run down of the course, basically reminding us to follow the black and white signs. I’m always super nervous about getting lost at smaller events, if there’s an opportunity to take a wrong turn I’ll take it. I asked the guy in front of me if the course was well marked. He just said he sure hoped so, it was his first year running it as well. Somehow it eased my nerves to hear I wasn’t alone.
I have no idea where we were running, except that we headed out from Welches Middle School and it was beautiful. Not flat, by any means, but a perfect run to get out of the city. Plush trees lined the course, the air was cool and crisp and they did an exceptional job marking the course. I was especially grateful for the mile markers since I left my Garmin on the charger at home. Even though you are out in the middle of nowhere with this run, there’s no way to get lost between signs and volunteers.
Volunteers young and old were passing out water along the course and there were even a few spectators out there cheering on friends bright and early on a Saturday morning. The rolling hills ended around mile 8, where we had our turn around. I love out and backs, to know what to expect with the course and to get that burst of energy with the people in front and behind you.
I wasn’t at all prepared for the mileage, but the course was so pretty that the miles went by fast and I didn’t really notice. It had a nice downhill finish back to the school, where they passed out our finisher water and medal. I didn’t see a single huckleberry along the course or at the finish line, but there were plenty of Sasquatch sightings. From the banners, to the participation cups, to the medals, this run loves the Bigfoot legend. Finishers even get to get a picture with a Sasquatch couple.
I met a girl from Texas, who picked the Huckleberry Half Marathon as part of her vacation entertainment. She loved the course, but I had to laugh as we were chatting, most likely because we were surrounded by some oversized Sasquatch wannabes. Regardless, I was impressed that she would head out into the woods or Oregon for an adventure. The Huckleberry Half Marathon represented Oregon well. Plenty of port-a-potties, water stations and volunteers, I’d argue this half should be on your race list. The medals were fun, the kitschy Bigfoot stuff made me smile, but most of all it was just a beautiful course. The fresh air and scenery made all those hills worth it. I will be back to run this one again, next time a little more prepared and I hope to spot a huckleberry out there too.