Back on Course: Running the Inaugural Willamette Valley Half Marathon

Willamette Valley Marathon and Half Marathon start.  – Photo by Adam Lapierre

For a plethora of reasons, I hadn’t run a half marathon in 3 1/2 years. Willamette Valley Half Marathon was my return to that distance and what a great choice for my long overdue 18th half marathon! You would never guess this was a first-year event. The turnout was great, the course showcased the best of Salem, the route was well-marked and staffed, and overall it was just a well-organized race.

The race started out in front of the Oregon State Capitol building. Warming up in the park out in front of the capitol building was a beautiful pre-race setting. Between the marathon and the half marathon, there were over 500 participants that started out the race in our capitol city. Even though I haven’t been a resident of Salem for a long time, I felt like the route showcased some of the best of Salem. From the Capitol, through downtown Salem, into Riverfront Park, over to Wallace Marine Park, Minto-Brown Park, and eventually making our way back to Riverfront Park. This allowed us to run along the Willamette River, among lush tree-covered areas, through vast open fields, and along paved trails in wildlife sanctuary areas.

Running along a park path at Willamette Valley Marathon and Half Marathon  – Photo by Adam Lapierre

Even though there were moments along the course when I thought to myself, “Running 13.1 miles really sucks,” this course allowed me to quickly get out of my head and enjoy the beauty around me. It turned out to be a perfect May morning, which added to my appreciation for this event. Another bonus about this course was that it was flat. There were a couple of bridges to go up and over, but the elevation change wasn’t significant. I have to say, I felt like this was the perfect course for the “rebirth” of my half marathon running. In fact, I’m already trying to decide which half marathon I should run next.

At the finish there was a pretty amazing spread of food – not your typical banana and bagel post-race snacks. A live band was playing in the outdoor amphitheater and there was a large open area in Riverfront Park to listen to music, eat, stretch, and just relax and enjoy the beautiful day. There was also wine-tasting available at the post-race Willamette Valley Wine Festival with a good number of wineries featuring various wine choices.

If you are all about the bling, the big ol’ medal definitely did not disappoint. And the tech race shirt is one I will wear often. Check out the 2018 Willamette Valley Marathon and Half Marathon results online here.

If you missed out on the inaugural Willamette Valley Marathon and Half Marathon, I highly recommend you put this one on your calendar for next year. I see this one becoming an annual tradition for me and a few of my friends. Come join us is 2019!

Photo by Adam Lapierre

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