Here at Run Oregon, we usually preview races about 2-4 weeks ahead of time, so I’m jumping the gun by about 11 months. But I’m totally amped about this race, because I have been waiting for years – literally – for local race organizer Uberthons to stage a return to the Portland International Raceway, and it’s finally going to happen on Oct. 6, 2018, with the new Fast on Flat event!
A little background: Uberthons came into existence in early 2011, providing timing services for other race directors. The first Uberthons event was Run for Lise in Puyallup, Washington, in August 2011, followed in short order by races in St. Paul and Tigard, and then the PIR Invitational on October 22, 2011. That last race was run at the auto race track, about as flat and fast a course as you can imagine. However, I didn’t make my 5K debut until a week later, at the Zombie Apocalypse Run. My first Uberthons race was a month later, at the inaugural Turkeython. I immediately became a big fan of Uberthons, and I’ve since run in several dozen Uberthons events. But … Uberthons never returned to the Portland International Raceway. (And I, ahem, requested it numerous times over the years.) How I wanted to try running on that track! The closest analogue was the 2016 Scrub Run, which took place on a different track – the one for horses at Portland Meadows. That was a fun event, but it was about as much the opposite of the PIR as you can imagine, considering that the running surface was soft, speed-sapping sand.
So, long story short, this is going to be the chance to run on as optimal a course for a PR as you can expect.
What are the race options?
1) Elite Marathon (13 laps, plus 0.2 miles) – limited to 50 registrants
Are you fast? I mean, really fast? As in, running a marathon in 2:20:00 or better (male) or 2:30:00 or better (female)? This is a chance to run in nearly optimal conditions, with frequent water stations (every 1/4 mile), ice towels every 2 mile lap, regular time announcements via PA, pace car for the first lap, and flat flat flat! With a start time of 3:30 a.m., it should be cool and calm.
2) Boston Qualifier Marathon (13 laps, plus 0.2 miles) – limited to 100 registrants
This is an event aimed at producing qualifiers for the 2019 Boston Marathon, which means, of course, that it will be a USATF-certified course. Starting at 6:00 a.m., all three lanes at the PIR will be open. Lane 1 will be for men expecting a 3:30:00 or better finish and women expecting a 4:00:00 or better finish. Lane 2 will be for men expecting a 4:10:00 or better finish and women expecting a 4:40:00 or better finish. Lane 3 will be for men expecting a 4:55:00 or better finish and women expecting a 5:25:00 or better finish.
3) Marathon Relay (13 laps, plus 0.2 miles) – limited to 600 teams of two to five
Also starting at 6:00 a.m., and staggered across the three lanes by anticipated time of finish, this will be a marathon relay. Team options are Men, Women, and Co-ed (at least two women on the team). Lane 1 will be for teams expecting to finish in 3:30:00 or better. Lane 2 will be for teams expecting to finish in 4:30:00 or better. Lane 3 will be for teams expecting to finish in 5:30:00 or better.
4) 5K PR challenge (1.5 laps, plus 0.1 miles)
This is an event to help 5K runners reach a PR. Starting at 12:30 p.m., all three lanes will be open to 5K runners. Lane 1 will be for those expecting a finish time of 22 minutes or faster. Lane 2 will be for those expecting a finish time of 35 minutes or faster. Lane 3 will be for those expecting a finish time of 60 minutes or faster.
5) High school invitational 5K (1.5 laps, plus 0.1 miles) – limited to 50 teams
Finally, the event will be capped off with a high school invitational 5K starting at 2:00 p.m. for local high school cross-country teams.
Whew, that is going to be a LONG day for the timing crew!
Besides the chip-timing, instant results, usual Uberthons course support, and the excitement of runners chasing their own best performances, what else do registrants get? Finisher’s medal, tech shirt, and entry to the food station with burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, and lemonade. What else could you ask for? I know I’ve been bugging Uberthons for five years now about staging a race at the PIR, so this is an experience I’m not going to miss.
Finally, Uberthons invites all runners and teams of runners to run for a charity of choice. As of this writing, there are four charity partners, but other charities are welcome to ask to be added; see this page for more details.