Honestly, when it comes to racing around here in February, it’s a mixed bag. We can see temperatures from the teens to near 50 and any form of precipitation. The only thing we can do as runners is pack the right gear and hope for the best. Surprisingly this year on February 17th we woke to clouds (of course) but it was a dry and relatively warm morning in Hillsboro, with temps a bit over 40 degrees. Having run this 10K before, I knew it was definitely not of the ‘flat and fast’ variety, but more scenic with regular hills.
With packet pickup completed the day before at Foot Traffic, the pre race process was a lot simpler. Liberty High School is a great location, partly due to the access to the cafeteria, perfect for the supportive family members not enthusiastic about the chilly morning. The course began on the road adjacent to the school, and finished on the track. The roads were already closed, making it safe and simple to run the first section and get an idea of the finish, which consists of a 2 block mild climb before the flat school grounds. The course traverses rural roads, which in some areas can be dangerous. At this race they do a great job of utilizing local law enforcement to close roads and alert drivers at intersection and the portions still open to traffic. This allows runners to enjoy the views and focus on racing as they wish.
The 10K starts on the road, with a mild downhill. The event was chip timed, so starting right on the line was not a necessity. Since I have not raced for a couple months, I got in the start area a couple feet back. After some basic instruction, we were sent off. My caution at the start was unnecessary, as even with a relaxed beginning, I ended up in front within a few seconds. The first mile or so takes a few turns through an industrial area before we got out into the farmland. With near constant elevation changes, most of the course is either climbing or ascending.
The real fun began as we left the industrial area and went down a steep s turn to get on a gravel road. Smooth and relatively flat, it was my favorite part of the course due to the secluded area. At this point I was starting to overtake a lot of half marathon runners, who had started about 10 minutes before us. Holding to the left side of the road where it was clear minimized any issues and made it very enjoyable. It was possible to catch glimpses of the high trestle bridge through the trees ahead before we made a left onto a paved road and ascended yet another hill.
The next couple miles were quiet, with a couple turns that led us back the road we started on. I was wondering if I was going to be overtaken by the next runner, but wasn’t going to look back and check. With the 5K scheduled to start ten minutes after the 10K, I should have rejoined the midpackers for the last half mile or so. Apparently they started late and I got a head start on the leaders, and was caught with about 600 m to go on the last hill. I wasn’t feeling good enough to battle it out and was content just to pick up the pace a bit as we ran by the start area and finished on the track. The bonus of the late start allowed me to rejoin my girlfriend for the last half mile of the 5K and run her into the finish.
We did an additional short cool down and then enjoyed the warmth and food in the cafeteria. The fare was different from years past, with cinnamon rolls and eggs instead of oatmeal. My favorite part was the warm cup of hot chocolate. I received a cool gold medal for winning overall to go along with my finishers medal. They are very unique to the event and look great with my collection. As always, the race was a good fitness test to open the spring racing season.
Heartbreaker 10K Overall Results
Women’s overall winners
- Lyndy Davis, Portland, 37:19
- Carre Heineck, Portland, 38:51
- Jessica Dover, Portland, 39:22
Men’s overall winners
- Brian Bernier, McMinnville, 36:12
- John Brenteson, Hillsboro, 36:27
- Eric Valdes, Beaverton, 37:33