The Me.She.We Half Marathon, run on June 1 in Wilsonville, was a wonderful experience for the friends that I went with and those I made there. Among my friends that participated were competitive runners, run-walk competitors, and a few that are still pretty new to this world of racing longer distances. I myself happen to be non-competitive runner that can knock out a sub-8 mile if needed, but I much prefer to run at a comfortable pace of 10 minutes/mile or slower. I seldom “race” and instead view most races as an experience to savor, ideally with friends.
Built around the idea that a race should be supportive, inclusive, and empowering experience, Me.She.We is an untimed running event that stands out from the crowd. Going into the race, I knew it was a women’s event; during the race I discovered it was much more. The aid stations and on-course volunteers set the tone, cheering each individual runner on and acting more like friends than strangers. The on-course support offered much more than a few half-hearted claps and “Good job” comments. Volunteers asked how I was doing, offered specific snacks and fluids the way ultramarathon volunteers do, and even made time to take a few photos of my friends and I. Aid stations were even stocked with tampons, because periods.
Race day this year dawned cool and overcast, but the clouds burned off and by the race start it was pretty warm. This was obvious when looking at the variety of running clothes worn by participants at the start. I was glad to have packed for all scenarios and ended up in a tank top. The race started out in a light industrial area (offices with attached warehouses) on sidewalks and then ran through the Villebois neighborhood to the Graham Oaks Nature Park. Out of the park, we ran through a more rural area (including a pretty epic hill) and then the route circled back to the park, Villebois, and towards the finish.
During the race, my little group of four picked up a few other runners – Kade and Nana – who we ran with more or less from around mile 5 to the finish. In the last 5k, there were a few times that some from our group dropped back and the rest of us held up to give them a minute. At one point, we noticed that we’d lost Lisette and Nichole, only to find them in a community garden area getting cooled off by some innocent bystanders with a hose. We even picked up one more runner in the last mile that joined us through the finish, adding one more high-five to our finish line total.
At the finish, we got fresh-made pancakes and bagels, beer, and listened to music, interrupted only for the announcer to welcome each finisher back with congratuations on their race. You could get a massage from friends at Therapuetic Associates, spin-to-win from a number of local vendors, or get to know other businesses like Wander Women, a business offering women supportive, empowering hiking experiences all over the Pacific NW. The best part at the finish was the way participants asked about each others’ races, took a minute to actually listen to each other, and watching friends celebrating their races.
If all this sounds good to you – a race put on specifically to support women in their individual running journeys – keep an eye out for the 2020 Me.She.We half marathon!