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Race Recap: 2019 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay

Anyone who’s ever done a Gorgeous Race Series event knows they are in for a memorable event. These races, especially the relays, are fun, well organized, and as the series title would suggest, gorgeous!! The 2019 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay did not disappoint in any of those respects this year.

Held in July, the Gorgeous Wine Country Relay begins at Argyle Winery in Dundee and meanders through scenic wine country. There are 12 legs in all, totaling just shy of 50 miles, and you can split up your team however you wish. You could have 6 runners, tackle the distance alone, or any number of teammates in between. Whatever you choose, you can expect to have lots of fun and see lots of pretty things.  There are wineries to visit at many exchanges along the way, and many tastings there as well. The relay ends at The Carlton Winemakers Studio, and there’s a great celebration of all the wineries there to greet you as your team enjoys victory. And wine.

Mindy, Robyn (can’t keep her eyes open), Kelly, Lisette, Nikki, and Nichole. And the marionberry pie.

Robyn’s Thoughts:

Robyn and the marionberry pie we finally got to eat at the finish.

This was my first Wine Country Relay, but I have run other Gorgeous Relays. This relay really was a real win-win, as in it was a one-day relay (lower stress than the two-day events), yet was still a longer relay, allowing me to get almost 10 miles in (an average weekend run) in a more social and fun-filled setting.

The event was very well organized, our team felt supported and not stressed at all through every step and exchange. The race directors of the Gorgeous Series are always very involved and social with all participants. This openness creates a warm, friendly feel that truly helps the event stand out as a special experience.

Although the course was challenging, the views of the Oregon Wine countryside helped motivate you to the next exchange. Of course, the wine tasting an most hand-off locations helped to push you forward to the finish as well. I could not recommend this race enough.

Nikki’s Thoughts:

Nikki Mueller, Nichole Castaneda, Lisette Barajas, and Mindy Harp at the 2019 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay.

This was my 2nd time running the Wine Country Relay and it was just as fun as it I remembered. My team was different this year but all of the Gorgeous Series relays have an incredible fun and welcoming vibe. I go into these events knowing that the course will be well marked, the volunteers will be amazing, and that the evidence that the organizers really care about making their runners happy and giving them a great experience will shine. I’ve run enough other races now to know the difference.

Our team opted to “draw straws” for who would run when. We did something similar for the Gorgeous Portland Pub Relay in May and it really made it fun. How it works is pretty simple … we all put our driver’s licenses in a hat and draw one, and that’s our team’s next runner. We had a team of 6, so that meant we each only had to run twice, and the legs are short enough that no one on our team was too stressed about making our way through it. It is hilly, but we all know what to do to make our legs move. No one was worried about winning, so walking to enjoy views was not out of the question either.

I ended up with leg #3 and leg #7, which were only a bit over 3 miles each. Because I was feeling so good, I opted to also run leg #10 will my friend Kelly, because why not? Yamhill Country and the best possible views were all around me and I couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop for my Sunday.

Our team started in the 3rd wave of runners, and I was grateful, as always, for this small relay that didn’t have all the hassle that comes with too many teams coming in and out of exchanges. All of us were able to enjoy ourselves without ever feeling rushed or stuck somewhere. The weather was hot and muggy, and we were grateful to the team handing out Otter Pops to hot runners. So refreshing!!

My only complaint was that the food truck at the after party ran out of mac and cheese (which I sampled and was super delish!) before I could buy some. It was my fault for spending too long socializing and drinking wine at the end, but since I’m vegetarian, it was really my only option. Next time, I’m going for the mac & cheese first!! All in all, still a great success!!

Mindy’s Thoughts:

Mindy Harp at the 2019 Gorgeous Wine Relay.

This was my first race with the Gorgeous Race Relays. I have attended a few of their free community pub runs and have always left feeling very impressed at how organized their events were. I am also all about one-day relays, especially when they are in wine country!

Our start time was amazing! Our team made our way to the starting line to cheer on our first runner. At each exchange, we were graciously given tastings of wine from local wineries. I was extremely impressed on how well the whole event was ran. Everyone was very friendly, and the volunteers were top notch! The course was very well-marked, and even though it had some difficult and challenging routes for our runners, the views and atmosphere completely made up for it.

When we waited for our last runner to cross the finish line, we all received our medals and made our way to the wine tasting. This was by far the best part of the race! Many local wineries came out for the runners to sample their wines. It was so great seeing some of the other teams, and bonding with our team. I can definitely say, this will not be my last race from the Gorgeous Series! I highly recommend putting together a team and running in one of their awesome events!

Kelly’s Thoughts:

After my first leg … I felt that I earned a minute to enjoy some Oregon wine.

One of the things I love best about the Gorgeous Series Relays is how chill everything is, especially since recently I’ve morphed into the type of relay captain that plans only what needs to be planned. First Aid Kit? Check. Team name? Check. Showing up at the start without the race bibs? Check. To be honest, the main preparation for this race was baking a marionberry pie for my team … at least I remembered that.

Wait a second … race bibs are important at any race. But so is carpooling, right? The issue was that when we all jumped into Robyn’s giant three-row vehicle, I forgot to bring my bag of race bibs and signs. At most local races, you can usually go talk to the timer and get assigned a new number, but it’s a pain in the patuckus. And at a big race? Forget it. You’re a DNS. But Kerry and Traci were like, “no big deal,” (even though I was even annoyed at myself at this point) and got us new bibs. And a new “Runner on Road” sign. And let me pet their dog.

I notice my teammates were casually just glossing over the hills, but when you’re 40 and you don’t warm up, or study the map particularly well, sometimes those hills are beasts. Fortunately, as mentioned, the legs were all relatively short, so it was only about 2.5 miles of uphill and then I got to have some wine. This entire relay went like this for everyone on our team: “Damn, that hill was a killer — yes, I’ll try the pinot!”

What I especially appreciated was the line-up of wineries. It included my favorite (Stoller Vineyards) and a lot of wineries that I’d never heard of, but that were absolutely beautiful and had amazing varieties of wine to sample. The course was all on roads, some paved, some gravel, some mainly packed dirt, but they were all smooth sailing (aside from the hills). There were excellent volunteers at key locations so we never missed a turn, too.

Gorgeous Relays attract runners and relay teams that like to have fun. There are super-serious runners that relax when it’s a teammate’s turn and super-not-serious runners that turn their legs into multi-mile parties. But everyone we met was fun, easy to talk to, and had only good Gorgeous experiences to share.

Kelly Barten and Nikki Mueller at Tori Mor. The view behind us was typical of the 2019 Gorgeous Wine Country Relay.

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About Nikki Mueller (434 Articles)
I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.

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