It was another beautiful July morning when runners and walkers gathered at Champoeg State Park (near St Paul) to participate in Run With Paula’s Independence Day runs. July runs can be hot, but the 8am start time combined with the overnight temps in the high 50s and overcast skies made for beautiful running weather. If you haven’t run a race at Champoeg, you should! The race start/finish was at the Riverside day-use area on the west end of the park. Entrance to the park is $5 for a day pass, or if you have an annual pass to State Parks that gets you in as well.
I arrived at the park my usual 45 minutes before start time of the race, and parking was no issue at all. I picked up my race packet, grabbed a bagel and coffee, and decided on one more bathroom stop (taking advantage of the brick&mortar facilities in the parking lot).
After the singing of the National Anthem, the race started promptly at 8. The course is an out and back loop, with the first mile of the “out” part being run on the roads leading into the park, and the “back” section (after the pack of runners has spread out) taking us onto walking/biking paths. The first aid station was located just a little bit before the 5k turnaround, allowing me to hit it twice for a cup of water. The start of the third mile also marks the end of the tree cover, and but thanks to a thin cloud cover the temperature was still comfortable. Knowing that I had just less than a mile to go (and last year’s finish time as a goal to beat) I dug a little deeper and did my best to finish strong.
At the finish, I received my medal and got some Gatorade from the water table. I cooled off for a bit, then enjoyed a beer and burger cooked up by Rogue Brewing. Since the awards ceremony wasn’t scheduled until 10am (and it didn’t look like I placed anyway) I headed out around shortly after 9am (just as the first half marathon runner arrived at the finish), happy to have started the holiday on such a nice note.
Full results can be found here.