When I head down to the Springfield/Eugene area, it’s usually for work and/or I’m on a time crunch. That makes my runs there quick and easy – usually along Pre’s trail somewhere – for ease of use. But on those days when most of my family is out-of-town, it means its time for me to explore new areas and new races – like the Lucky Clover 10k/5k, put on by Level 32 Racing. This race has been around for a bit, but featured new courses at Dorris Ranch in Springfield and the evening start time (530pm) was too good to pass up. There were three options for racing – a paved 5k, a trail 5k, and a combo 10k – where runners could choose in which order (trail and paved) they wanted to complete the full distance. Given that I was on daddy duty, I opted for the only logical one – the paved version.
This was just about as perfect of a race as you could ask for. Prior to the event, William from Eclectic Edge was playing Irish music and speaking with a Dublin accent to get everyone in the mood (I wonder if he will wake up tomorrow still speaking this way as he went ALL day in it – impressive). There were a few tents set up and decked out in green and plenty of area to walk around and loosen up. Also, the Spring temperatures were absolutely amazing (about 66 at start time) and the clear blue skies just put me in the mood for spring.
Though I have spent limited time running in Springfield, I actually generally knew what the road course was going to look like. A few months back, I did a little runsploring and stumbled upon this spot and vowed to return at some point to experience the awesomeness again. I didn’t necessarily think it would be at this event specifically, but I’m glad it was. The race started at Dorris Ranch, a great spot to park and explore the entirety of the trail system. course was a simple out-and-back on the Middle Fork Path, which runs alongside the middle fork of the Willamette River and provided some amazing views.
I started in the back of the pack with my 2-year-old, as I knew that a skinny starting corral and quick turn would not be conducive to a good start. I just held back and let things thin out a bit before entering the ten foot wide path. After a short climb, there was a bit of a downhill to the river that I didn’t recall (more on that later). The sun shining through the trees was mesmerizing (I mean, the SUN…WAS…OUT!) and the natural surrounding was a great backdrop. I don’t know if it was the Irish playlist in my headphones, or the beauty of the surroundings, but things just kinda flew by.
Before I knew it, the turnaround point was upon me and I was up within the top 8 or so runners. I wasn’t exactly sure if these were all 5k runners, or those 10k runners who decided to tackle the road course first. Either way, I was feeling great and ready to cruise back to the start. With about 3/4 of a mile left to go, the uphill (that was previously the downhill on the way out) hit…and so did a breeze. It wasn’t the worst conditions I have run in, but a breezy uphill climb pushing a stroller was a fun challenge. The last 1-2 minutes was a welcome downhill to the finish and I crossed the finish line as the first male, and 4 seconds out of an overall first place finish.
After the race, my daughter grabbed a cookie, while I enjoyed a solid selection of canned beers they had on tap (Ninkasi & Sunriver, among others). There was a solid spread as well – complete with veggie trays, green fruit, and broccoli soup. My prize was an Irish bowler hat and the feeling of accomplishment on this great St. Patrick’s Day.
Level 32 puts on a ton of great events, so check out their road events and trail series calendars. They put on great events, so consider heading down for the McKenzie River Half and Bring in Spring 5k THIS WEEKEND (3/24!).