May 19th, 2019 was a beautiful Oregon morning. I had decided to run the Willamette Valley Half Marathon a few weeks before and was excited to run on a course so close to home. I live a mere 20 minutes away and it’s always nice to not have a significant drive on race morning. This was the 2nd year of the Willamette Valley Marathon and half, and first year with an added 10k. It was my first time at this event.
I arrived downtown Salem about 45 minutes early. Directions were clear on where parking would be available and I walked a few short blocks to the starting area right next to our Oregon State Capital. The road was blocked off from traffic and there was tons of room to stretch, meet with friends and such before lining up to race. There was packet-pick up race day morning but I had stopped by Gallagher Fitness the day before, to save some time on race morning. I always know if packet-pick-up is at Gallagher, it will be a quick pick up as they are always very organized and I can grab anything I may need extra for running while I’m at the store too. I used the port-a-potties and turned in my bag to gear check and visited with a number of runner friends and then waited to line up.
We started promptly at 8, heading down the streets of downtown Salem and turning right into Riverfront Park. We headed to the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge and it is always breathtaking – easily one of my favorite areas to run in Salem. We turned to the right heading off the bridge and went down into Wallace Marine Park, looping around the baseball fields all on a paved path parking lot.
As we finished up this section we heading back into Riverfront park, running once around the world (Eco-Earth Globe) before crossing the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge. We now were heading into Minto Brown Park known for it’s numerous running/walking trails. Running alongside the Willamette River is always a special treat with it’s spectacular views. We ran in Minto Brown park the longest. The shade from the trees was nice as it started to warm up for those last couple miles.
Crossing back over the Peter Courtney Bridge, there was the finish line, just waiting for us! I was handed a medal, water was available right away. Free massage was available right at the finish line along with a huge back drop for a fun finish photos. The bag check was also right there so I didn’t have to walk a long ways to get my jacket. I watched some people finish and then headed over to the Wine Festive going on right next to the finish line. There was a full catered meal that came with registration along with wine tastings.
I loved this course. It captures why Salem is so wonderful to run in, three connecting parks that take you along the Willamette River. Oregon greenery galore and crossing two beautiful walking bridges and once around the world! My Garmin did read the half was a little short, as did a number of folks on Strava, though it was unclear if this was a course or a GPS issue. It was still a top notch race, very organized and worth running again in 2020!
If you want to add this to race schedule for next year, information is coming in August here.
Race results and photos can be found here.