The Corvallis Half Marathon was a race that had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Though I have run (and even raced) in Corvallis before, I had just heard such great things about the event, backdrop, and course that I wanted to experience it for myself. In the end, the 2018 race was super memorable, and I anticipate it will be etched in my mind for quite some time – thanks to the crazy weather that this year posed. Considering that mid-April weather can generally be considered a solid date to get sun and spring temperatures, or at the very least a little shower or two, this year was an anomaly of sorts as the rain started at packet pick up and only got harder as the day (and miles) went on.
I want to be clear that the event and organization was AMAZING. Even with all the issues due the wetness, everything seemed to go really well. There was plenty of nearby parking in the Reser Stadium lots and covered areas within the stadium itself. Picking up my bib and shirt was a breeze, and despite the less than ideal temperatures, I found the volunteers and staff to be in good spirits. This would be a common theme throughout the day (THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!).
The race itself started on turf within Reser Stadium. It was quite cool to be on the field itself and we were made to feel more special by a peppy OSU band braving the rain to pump us up with tunes typically reserved for Saturdays in the fall. The start was sort of slow, as runners had to converge upon crossing the starting line to be able to fit into the terminal to get out of the stadium, but we soon exited into the parking lot and onto closed off campus streets, allowing for a lot of room to space out and find the groove. I thoroughly loved running under the big trees on 30th St., as well as along all the cool campus buildings for the first 2+ miles.
I had actually been pretty sick leading up to race day – battling a chest and head cold that didn’t make for the best internal running conditions. By mile 4, I was sucking on dry throat lozenges, battling minor coughing spells, and trying not to hack up snot on anyone nearby. My body was also feeling drained (and slow), but I still knew I would finish – just not as quickly as I’d like. The rain probably didn’t help in giving me any extra bursts of energy, but I can tell you what did – the volunteers. Every volunteer I encountered was clapping, smiling, and otherwise dutifully doing their job despite the conditions. It was hard enough to run in the constant wetness, so I know that just standing there in the chilly morning was not the most pleasant thing in the world – but they all seemed to be willing to do it for us runners!
One of the minor course changes this year was a short jaunt into the parking lot at Northwest Hills Community Church just before mile 5, so that they could provide an aid station. This proved to be a Godsend for me (no pun intended), as there were bananas, gummy bears, and gu packets – and my body definitely needed a zap of caloric energy at that time. It took another 2 miles or so to fully kick in, but beginning with the small out-and-back on Oak Creek Drive after mile 7, I got a rush from the fuel and picked up my pace. I ended up going from an ~9:09 pace for miles 5 & 6 to an average 8:00 pace for miles 7-9. Thank you NWCC and volunteers (again)!
Following the out-and-back, mile 10 had us entering Bald Hill Natural Area. Quite a few years ago, I had raced up Bald Hill at the Run for the Hills Trail race (coming back up this June), and it was good to be back. I wished it would have been sunny and nice, as this area is really beautiful and a great spot for both paved and dirt trail running. Instead, the sky seemed to open up and dump out even more water (which I didn’t know was even possible). As I entered the Midge Cramer Path, passed the Benton County Fairgrounds, and crossed over the 53rd Street intersection, the water bouncing off the cars and road showcased indeed just how hard it was coming down. THANKS AGAIN VOLUNTEERS!!
The Midge Cramer Path is a really great spot to run. It is super straight and is this in-between city/rural landscape that even crosses the Irish Bend covered bridge. Heading west-to-east as we were, I knew that the path gave way to the Oregon State campus and would spit us out back under those awesome trees on 30th Avenue. It was essentially one final straightaway on this road before finishing in the area between Reser Stadium and Gill Coliseum. The rain was still coming down, but I survived both the external and internal maladies.
Besides my first half marathon and my 2 full marathons, I don’t think that I have ever finished a race and been more proud of myself. We all battled the elements for 2 hours or so and we should all commend ourselves for that. There were plenty of food options afterwards, which I was super thankful for. From tomato soup (a welcome treat) and coffee to fruit and snacks, there were options for everyone. We also got free beer or cider from Corvallis’ own Block 15 Brewing and 2 Towns Cider. I opted for the amazing refreshing Pacific Pineapple cider to try to will myself somewhere warm.
Overall, I wish the weather would have been a little nicer, but that’s Oregon for you. I think this was out of the norm, as the pictures I have seen from previous years, even 2017, were full of blue skies and sun. As a result, I am even more eager to return in future years to experience the course in all it’s truest beauty. The event was fantastically organized, the shirt (picture below) was super unique that it may actually make my regular rotation, and I would venture a guess that the volunteers were vital to the success of most of us out there. This may have checked the Corvallis Half Marathon off of my running bucket list, but it’s definitely not going to be that last time I do it!