Three years ago, my husband and I found out about Revel Race Series and flew to Utah to run Revel Big Cottonwood. When we saw Revel was coming to Oregon for the first time, we knew right away, we would be running their race! Revel Mt Hood was a nice surprise. I decided right away to run the half marathon. Running the full in Utah made me sore, really sore. My husband was excited to run Mt Hood full marathon.
The day before the race, we headed to Portland to pick up our race packets. The race expo was held at the Oregon Convention Center. Upon arrival, there was no questions on where to go. The bib pick up was labeled well with plenty of volunteers ready to answer any questions you might have. The race shirts we received with our bibs were top-notch. Definitely one I will wear, not just tuck away in a dark drawer. There were several stations you could stop at to get samples, see sponsors, get a Revel tattoo to wear while racing or cheering for a friend/family member. There was a little game station for extra family fun, and a nice swag set up for anyone wanting extra Revel gear. As my family walked around to each booth, we came near the end and there was a photo booth! We had a lot of fun taking photo with the cool backdrops and the funny glasses and hats that were available. I felt like the expo was a good size, but not so overwhelming and large I couldn’t enjoy it. One thing that really stood out to me is how race director Anna Ryan was walking around answering questions and meeting people. Everything seemed very organized, especially as a first event in Oregon!
My family stayed in Clackamas. We booked a hotel late, and so anything closer to Sandy (the bus loading area) was full. I do recommend booking early for 2019. 1:30a came fast for my husband and I. We were excited and up with no problems, despite the early rise. It was a half hour trip to Sandy High School to board the shuttle busses. My husband needed to board at 3:15a and me, 3:30-4:00a. It was dark and pleasant out. Revel had included a handy print out
in our bags the following day on what parking lot to be in, and what time. After I left my husband to walk up to the upper parking lot to board my bus, I heard a familiar voice. Gregg Leblanc who was pacing the 2:10 group today and who heads up a Half Fanatics group in the Portland area. I started seeing many other runners from the area I knew, so I never felt alone standing there in the dark. There was a volunteer going around making sure we were all runners for the half! “These busses are for the half marathon only!”
There were a few port-a-potties set up near where we were waiting. I “of course” used the port-a potties, then loaded in the very first bus heading up to our half start! They were making sure busses were full, a lady I didn’t know sat with me. Ashlee from Utah. She was excellent company riding up the mountain. Such good company, I lost track of time. I’m not really sure how long it took to drive up.
There were many people from the Oregon, and many who flew in from other states. Revel races seem to attract people who are from all over. Revel races are held in different states, all downhill and absolutely beautiful.
Upon arriving to our bus stop, we were lead up a small gravel road that went to a field we could sit or stand in. There were plenty of port-a-potties, water to drink and a loading truck for our bags. There was some music playing to keep us awake with an announcer sharing information as we waited. I was too antsy to sit. I drank my water, walked around, used the port-a-potties (several times) and did a little warm up. It was very dark, but we had a full moon. I ran up and down the gravel road a few times to get warmed up. We were confined to this area, out in the dark woods. There wasn’t any long roads to really get a good warm up on, but that was to be expected with the early start. It was about 60 degrees and comfortable for this summer race.
15-20 minutes before race start, we were told to get our bags to the truck and put our mylar blankets in the trash bags as we walked down the hill to the start. It was getting pretty light out by now. We were in beautiful Oregon country. We started at exactly 5:30am, about three miles up Lolo Pass Pd, on the west slopes of Mt. Hood.
I knew my husband was already running, as his race started at 5:15 from the top of Mt. Hood, running down hwy 26. The full marathon started in “heats” due to safety issues running down the hwy. Runners started at different times between 5:15 and 6:00a. For the half, everyone started at 5:30.
I started with the 1:40 pacer. He told those standing with him he would be running a pretty even pace and would finish about 30 early to ensure a sub 1:40 finish. My goal was a sub 1:40, so I planned on running with him as much as possible. I knew a couple of runners that were starting in this group as well. We chatted a bit, then it was time to start! I found myself running with a friend, Mariah Jeffery who was there pacing a friend. It was fun to talk to her for a few miles about upcoming goals and races, but soon that ended, and I found myself running with another lady. This lady I didn’t know, she was dressed in black running gear. When I run with people I don’t know, I make up names for them based on colors they are wearing. This lady was my new ninja friend. We ran side by side for miles. We didn’t talk, we just ran, slowly gaining on three other women. I finally had to break the ice and said, “do you see those women up ahead?” She said, “yes.” I said, ” we are going to go catch em.” She said, “that’s the plan.” and we laughed and ran on, together for another mile or two.
Most of the race I ran alone. I loved it. I pushed myself to keep pace and was determined not to let “red man pacer” 1:40 pass me. I didn’t look back, so I wasn’t sure if he was right behind me or not, but I was sure he was on my shoulder. The water/aid stations were organized and placed about every two miles. I took water at four of them. One I took Powerade instead of water and tossed it. I didn’t want to upset my stomach. The last one, I didn’t need any, so I ran through it. The great thing is, there was plenty of support out on the course!
Right after mile ten, we went up a small uphill onto hwy 26. We were now on the full marathon course. There were many cars driving down the mountain but I felt very safe. The sun was out, but for the summer race, it was still comfortable. I was very thankful for the early start! With about a mile left to go, we turned off of hwy 26 into the small Alder Creek neighborhood. It was a small shaded road that felt fast to run on. I heard the announcer through the trees before seeing the finish line. I picked up the pace, as much as I could and turned. Then I saw it, beautiful finish arch. I love the finish line! It’s a place of great emotions. It’s where you realize how strong you are! It’s where tears are shed and dreams come true! I was handed the coolest medal ever! I was asked to stop for a sec for a finishers photo. I was given water and a banana. My sister-in-law, daughter and son were waiting for me. “Mom, you look great!” they said! I sure felt great! It had been an excellent race! As I looked around I saw “read shirt pacer” had just come in. I went over to thank him for being out there to keep me moving! He said, after the start, I took off and he never saw me again. Hummm, I just knew he was going to catch me on those last miles of inclines, but…he didn’t!
We had pizza, donuts, coke and massages in our finishers area. We could also purchase Revel gear and there were plenty of photo opp’s with the backgrounds they had set up for us. There was a medical tent set up for anyone having issues. It was beautiful out, so my kids and I walked around knowing we had time before my husband could finish his half.
We were getting text alerts from checkpoints set up along the course. We knew my husband was on track and we waited for “only one mile left” alert. We knew what time he should come in for his “goal.” At about nine minutes out, I told my daughter it wasn’t going to happen today! We were getting bummed but were holding on to a little hope that maybe we just didn’t get the notification. My husband needed a sub 3:25 to get his BQ for the first time! All of a sudden, we saw him! He came in, we hadn’t gotten the notification and he DID IT! He got his BQ! Revel was good to both of us!
When it was time to head back to Sandy High School where our car was, we got in line to get on the shuttle bus. It was a longer wait than expected, but we weren’t in any hurry. A man was handing out donuts to help pass the time for those waiting.
Overall, I feel Revel did an outstanding job with Mt Hood. I did hear some complaints about not knowing what bus to get on before the races. In their defence, A handy informative flier was included in our bib pick up bag and there were volunteers at the busses asking if runners were on the right busses. Some of my running friends expressed not realizing we would have some uphills in the later miles. I drove most of the course the day before, so I was prepared mentally. Both the half and the full were indeed net downhill races, but note the uphill, for next year when you think about signing up! Ha! I’m impressed with how Revel connects with each community they bring races to. Revel is based out of Utah, connecting with communities is a difficult thing to do from afar, they do it well! Revel had lots of photographers out on course. Race photos are given to runners a part of registration along with an opportunity to download them for free into a cool recap video personalized just for you!
Thank you Revel, for picking Oregon! I will be back for 2019!
Read more about Revel Race Series HERE