Pre-pandemic, I had a plan to complete my second ultra-marathon in Spring 2020. With all of the training miles needed, I tried to line up a few races to provide some inspiration and shiny medals. The Spring Classic Half Marathon was a perfect fit for my mileage schedule. It was the right number of miles on the right weekend. And I’d run it a few years before, so I knew the race directors were well organized.
As the stay-in-place orders came down, and then continued for months, it was clear that the plans were going to change. My ultra was rescheduled (and then cancelled). But the leaders behind Spring Classic had other plans.
Through an energetic Facebook live video, the leaders explained what had been happening behind the scenes, and what options races had. It was too late for the company to get back funding for their supplies, but they did have the chance to shift everything to a virtual race and update the merch to match. For example, the super cute long-sleeve hooded top declared that this was “the year we ran alone.” It was clear the team was trying to make the best of the situation and would support runners and walkers as much as possible.
I had planned to complete my half marathon on the same weekend as the original race (“planned” being the critical word) so I appreciated the easy packet pick-up option. It was a drive-thru pick-up. Participants pulled into the clearly marked area in a Vancouver warehouse area (lots of balloons and flags to highlight the way). A volunteer in a mask came toward the car, asked for the name, then went back inside to get your swag bag. The driver could have it placed in their backseat or trunk, meaning a no-touch hand-off. I was through the entire process in less than 5 minutes, all from the comfort of my driver’s seat.
And let me just say, the swag bag was ah-mazing. Maybe the best one ever. Along with my shirt and medal, there were so many treats, including: a loaf of bread, bagels, donuts, a bottle of water, a bottle of Gatorade, a soda, and coupons for local restaurants and services. My one and only complaint is that I had a hard time carrying the heavy bag into my apartment.
The one thing missing from my bag was a bib. A friend confirmed she had gotten one so I emailed Why Racing Events, not expecting a response (pandemic and all) but figured I would try. Not only did I get a quick response, but I got my bib mailed to me right away. This service is one of the many many many reasons I love running (and runners).
It was a few weeks after I planned that I finally had time for a 13.1-mile run. My medal and shirt hung on the back of my bedroom door until afterward; I had not earned them yet so I could not wear them. I headed to downtown Portland on Memorial Day to complete loops on the waterfront for my needed miles. It was a rainy spring day, which felt perfect for Portland. The esplanade was sparsely dotted with runners, walkers, and bikers, nothing like a normal Portland morning. That non-normal felt right for this season too.
After the miles, I took my requisite finisher’s selfie with my medal. It was at home rather than at a finish line. I’m grateful for all the care the Spring Classic team put into this event that wasn’t an event. And I’m grateful for the reason to run 13.1 miles on a rainy morning. And I’m hopeful that in 2021 those miles will be with a few hundred others along the Columbia River.