When you think of a signature Portland road race, several come mind and among them, the Holiday Half! Always held in early December, come rain or shine, and Foot Traffic continues to do a stellar job at race management year after year.
This event, running in North Portland, is now sponsored by Daimler and begins and ends at their campus on Swan Island. The pre-race festivities include coffee and donuts, fire pits and hot chocolate stations, and packet pickup was indoors so racers and spectators could keep warm leading up to go-time. As with other Foot Traffic races throughout the year, the entire event is family-friendly, festive, and exciting!
The port-a-potties were plenty and the bag check was easy, making the morning stress-free. The colored starting “corrals” made sorting out pace groups simple and obvious. The most difficult aspect of race morning is parking – or rather traffic to the event. Our plan was always to park near the restaurant we intended to brunch at after and walk down, but even with the execution of that plan, we had to wait in some traffic lines on an off-ramp from I-5. Moving the start/finish line to Daimler has certainly made things easier, with plenty of parking in their garages and lots, but given the popularity of the race, it’s definitely helpful to be willing to: 1) wait in line; 2) park nearby and walk down; 3) take public transit; 4) bike; 5) be truly epic and run to the running event! A big thanks to the parking volunteers for helping to streamline the situation and to the race directors for stalling while people slowly trickled in to be able to join their event. My advice for future racers: give yourself an additional 15-20 minutes!
The weather on race day was surprisingly idyllic: brisk, but not cold, gray, but not rainy. In other words, the perfect running weather! My friend and I dressed “Santa”-ish and with just my arm warmers, I was a good temperature. Between the fire pits and the bag check options, it was easy to keep comfortable.
I was running the 5K this morning so I saw off my half marathon friends (along with the 10M and 10K runners) and then lined up for my own start!
Leaving Daimler’s campus, we turned left and then left again onto Channel Ave. The course markings were plentiful and obvious and there were volunteers are every turn to make extra sure everyone is going where they’re supposed to. The streets were either fully or partially closed to traffic, so we runners had fast, easy going. At the end of Channel Ave is the turnaround and it was incredibly fun to see costumes on the out and on the back; families dressed up, couples who matched, friends who coordinated, and the random solo runners, like me, just being festive! (Side note: there is a costume contest, so there is more incentive to dress up than just the fun!) The aid station arrived just before the 2 mile mark and had water, electrolytes, and cookies. While this first half was pretty industrial, after the aid station the course turned back onto the Daimler campus, running along the path parallel to the Willamette River, which gave beautiful views of the water, downtown Portland, and the Fremont Bridge.
We were one grassy lawn away from the finish line but still had about half mile to go, circling back around by the McDonald’s for a fast and flat finish. There were spectators everywhere, carolers, Freddi the Yeti dancing about, music, and giant medals – just as promised! There was chili and beer, hot chocolate, coffee, and snacks and an endless stream of runners coming in to cheer for!
Between the easy packet pickup (both early and on race day), the helpful and informative pre-race emails, the quality swag, the various distance options (with chip timing!), race day support and organization, and an overall fun experience, Foot Traffic knows how to give runners what they want. There are 1,001 races to choose from between Thanksgiving and Christmas and while we advocate for doing them all, if you had to narrow it down, put the Holiday Half on your short list.
You can check out this year’s results and photos here!