I am definitely no stranger to running half marathons, in fact, I have run 5 in the past few months alone, but I can honestly say, this is the first Wine Country Half Marathon I have ever raced. When looking into the race, I was very interested in some of the things the race offered. Hosted in Yamhill County, in the heart of the Willamette Valley, with small town charm, amazing views, a scenic course, yummy wines, and a post race wine and music festival. Is there anything else this race could need?
Race weekend approached quickly. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the packet pickup and expo offered on Friday or Saturday. And being about an hour from the race, there was no way I could get my packet until race day. To avoid the chaos of race day packet pick ups, the organization charged a $15 fee for participants who wanted to pick up their packets on race day. I am torn about this option, as I like that there is a way to avoid long lines on race day for packet pick up, but do not like having to pay an extra fee, especially a fee of $15. Races, in general can be an expensive, and fees do add up quickly. From my observation on race day, there were many unhappy participants who waited until race day to pick up their packets. But, in the end, the packet pickup went smoothly, and hardly any lines!
*Stoller Winery VIP Pre-Race Area
The organization, Destination Races, is really top-notch. They had so much communication prior to race day, with multiple emails, and links to their race page. The information given was extremely clear, and made for an easy, stress free morning. I had a VIP race entry for this race. It included a personalized VIP Race Bib, pre-race breakfast and coffee, private restrooms, private bag check with pick up at finish line VIP area, access to the post race Wine and Music Festival VIP area, Wine Glass Pick up at finish line area, and a recovery brunch at the finish line VIP tent. It honestly, was one of the best experiences I have had in running a half marathon race.
After I picked up my packet, I made my way to the VIP pre-race breakfast area. They offered yummy muffins and croissants, as well as juice, coffee and water. Some highlights included the private restrooms (no lines and no port-a-potties) and the private bag check. I only had a few minutes until the race started, so I made my way to the start line.
Once at the start line, I was blown away by how many participants there was. I think I got into my own world, while in the VIP area, and did not expect to see hundreds of runners already lined up at the start. They started the race and all runners were off! We started running from Stoller Family Estate Winery and headed on the course.
To say that the course was scenic, is an understatement. This course, was one of the most beautiful courses I have ever ran on. The scenery consisted of vineyards, ranches with farm animals, tree-lined sections, wheat silos, golden wheat fields, fruit orchards, until finally coming on the home stretch of Carlton, where tons of spectators are cheering you on towards the finish line.
Besides the amazing views, the course had many aid stations along the way. Each station featured water and electrolyte drinks. There were endless volunteers, each so lively and accommodating. They were so supportive and helpful and cheered along the way.
Once crossing the finish line, participants are handed their medals and post race snacks. The medals were so cleaver. They featured a wine bottle with the race emblem and a wine opener on the side. The post race snacks were great. Popcorn, apples, NUUN Electrolyte tablets, chocolate pretzels, and water. After getting my snacks and medal, I made my way to the VIP tent. Once entering, everyone was so friendly and congratulatory of my finish. I grabbed my bag, and made my way to the post race breakfast. They had so many goodies to choose from. I had some eggs, a breakfast sandwich, potatoes, and some fruit. Let’s just say I was pretty hungry. They also handed out the wine glasses (with no line) and offered a celebratory wine tasting.
*Post race VIP breakfast
Once finished with my breakfast, I was greeted by my family. And we made our way to the Wine and Music Festival. They had previously purchased their wine glasses online and had them in hand. We made our way to the first tasting. There were more than 20 different wineries and Lagunitas Brewing company was also pouring at this event. There was also other event sponsors with booths, such as NUUN electrolyte tablets, and Rebble drinks.
*Mindy’s family at the Wine and Music Festival
After tasting several wines, I made my way to the results booth to check my time. It was a very fast course, not many hills and the miles flew by (probably due to the scenery and amazing volunteers), so I thought I might have placed. I ended up running my fasted half marathon to date, with a time of 1:35 min, I placed 1st in my division, 10th for gender and 32nd overall. At the awards ceremony, I was awarded a bottle of wine! So exciting.
Oregon Wine Country is a special place and the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon was a really great event. With a scenic course, top-notch volunteers, and a fun post race party, this race has won my vote for my favorite half marathon!