October is a wonderful time of year to plan races in Oregon. The weather can be a bit iffy, but most of the time, it’s perfect race weather. That being said, the morning of October 6th was perfect weather to race Spirit of Oregon Half! This was a race I wanted to run last year, but the date didn’t work out for me, this year I was able to run!
Friday and Saturday (4th and 5th) was packet pick up at The Grand Hotel, downtown Salem. I had friends coming from Washington, Dayton, Sherwood, Dallas, Salem and Portland! I was able to pick all runners bids with no issues at all. Well, I did have one slight issue, as I asked for my bib, there was nothing! I hadn’t registered? This was a first for me. I thought I had registered months ago when my husband registered. I guess I had just decided in my brain I was running, but forgot to actually sign up! Race director Jason Jacobson overheard and jumped right in. He got me into the computer and I was good to go, along with my friends. I still am baffled by myself, how could I not register?
It was a perfect start and finish, the State Capital. My husband and I arrived about 6:30am, parked and walked two blocks in the dark foggy morning to the start. There was plenty of light with all the street lighting. I had friends waiting to get their bibs from me and we all stood in the port-a-potty line together!
The race started at 7:00am. With the usage of the city streets, road closures and safety concerns, the early start was needed. As we lined up the National Athem was sang with our glorious American flag held high! The gun went off and it was just getting day light out with a dull fog all around us. A group of us started together, but quickly spread out over the first mile or so. Spirit of Oregon Half was combined with High Street Hustle 5k/10k this year. Last year I ran the High Street Hustle. It was no surprise to me that the course included a run up High Street. The street does go up “high” but we also got to loop around Bush Pasture Park and run “down”. There was a section that challenged me as I haven’t been running any hills lately, but it was a nice challenge. There are houses along High Street, so many folks were out cheering for runners/walkers as we went by. I always pretend spectators our out cheering for me, so they are always bonus!
After heading back down High Street we were back downtown. We ran through parts of Willamette University, in downtown neighborhoods and up over 12th street Tokyo University Bridge. From there, we looped through Geer Community Park and made our way back to the Capital for our grand finish line experience!
There were finish line photos being taken as we crossed the finish line and a whole finishers area a half block from the finish line. The finishers area included food, a beer garden, and instant race results. There were tables if people wanted to stay awhile. My friends and I waited for everyone in our group to come in. This race was a highlight for my group, as one of our runners was finishing Spirit of Oregon as his very first half. It was a huge deal as he crossed the finish line. We all got to celebrate with him. I love that a race like this can change a person’s life!
A couple things about this race that really impressed me.
- How the race director was able to plan a course on the streets of Salem. This is a huge deal as it’s never been done like this before Spirit of Oregon/High Street Hustle. Most Salem races are done in the parks. Our parks are beautiful to run in but to have a course that runs all over downtown is super cool.
- The accuracy of the course was spot on! Typically when I run a race, the mile makers are off from what my Garmin says. It’s always to be expected because it’s hard to get mile markers all set up correctly. The Spirit of Oregon mile markers were correct! Also, with all the turns we did, I was certain my half distance would be slightly short or long! It was correct!
- The course was very well marked with arrows and so many volunteers. I never wondered where to go, as it was always very clear.
A special “Thanks” to Gallagher’s Fitness for combining Spirit of Oregon with High Street Hustle. Also, thank you to North Salem High School Cross Country team and Gladstone High School Cheerleading team for monitoring water and aid stations.
Results for Spirit of Oregon/High Street Hustle 5k/10k 2019 races can be found Here!
Race photos by Gordon Cully can be found Here!
Mark your 2020 race calendars for the first Sunday in October … this is a race worth doing and I hope to see you there next year!
Follow Spirit of Oregon on facebook Here!