Check out the inaugural Spirit of Oregon half in Salem on October 7, 2018!

As a resident of Oregon’s capitol city, and a worker in the downtown corridor, I am always amazed at just how much of the state is promoted here. From where my office sits, I can walk less than a half mile to see a bunch of monuments, flags, and plaques dedicated to all 36 counties and countless cities. Downtown Salem, while still having it’s own identity, is a location where the entire spirit of Oregon rings loud.

The Spirit of Oregon is a new race coming to Salem on Sunday, October 7th that will start and end at the Capitol building and feature the same theme that Oregon, as a whole, should be celebrated.

I have run most everywhere in Salem over the past few years, so I was very intrigued to see the Spirit of Oregon race course. Most Salem area races stay in the trio of parks near the Willamette River. However, when glancing at this course, the race will actually trek along some unique routes and go through neighborhoods – not just park trails.

Initially, the race will head SW of the Capitol building and run through the Willamette University campus while building towards a climb up High Street (note: there is a pretty steep, yet quick, camel hump hill that will be hit first just after mile 1 and again after mile 5). At mile 3, the course will hit some great bark trails in Bush Park – home of Willamette University’s cross country team – and get some more short hill work on the Derby Hill, a location where some national Soap Box Derby races take place. This area is very shaded with large trees and it is really an underrated place to run in Salem.

Runners will return near the Capitol around mile 6 and spend the rest of the race on the east side of downtown. I can honestly say that this is the first race I am aware of that has run in this area. Runners will hit some neighborhood streets and end up running near the modernized and improved Oregon State Hospital (which was once the home for the backdrop of the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and completing an out-and-back with the eastward apex being Geer Community Park. This park has seen a huge revitalization over the past few years, and now boasts great soccer and baseball fields, as well as a new bike and skating pump course as well as a paved trail.

In addition to the uniqueness of the course, the post-race OR-Toberfest is quite unique as well. The idea behind it is that the festivities will aim to showcase the bounty from all the corners of the state. While the full details don’t seem to have been finalized, I expect beers and wines from places like Portland, the Willamette Valley, and Central Oregon and goodies from the High Desert, the Gorge, and the Coast. This will all come with a live DJ and the wonderful backdrop of the Capitol Mall.

It sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. Also, check out these shirts and medals…

I recommend heading to Salem this October to check out this first year event!

Spirit of Oregon Half & 5k (Salem)

When: 7a on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Where: Oregon State Capitol

Register: Online here; $70 for half, $35 for 5k

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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