March 14, 2021 – a date which will not soon be forgotten. We all know about 2020 and what it did to the racing world (I was able to participate in just a single event last summer), but it was on trails in the mountains. This last weekend was the first road race in 13 months for me, and the Prineville Paddy Pint really brought joy to my heart in numerous ways.
We made the trek over to Prineville the night before the race (and stayed at the Crooked River Ranch Cabins), but could probably have made it over in the same day with the luxurious start time of 1pm. Prior to the race, Pioneer Park had all the feelings of a “real” race. Music was playing. A local band was setting up on the stage. There were tents with merch for sale. Food was being cooked. I literally couldn’t help but smile at the buzz that was going on. There was plenty of space to distance within the park, so you could feel as comfortable as you wanted. It was a pretty incredible feeling.
This year, the event was starting in waves, with ~50 runners leaving in 15 minute increments. And even within those waves, each runner (or running unit) had ~15 seconds between them. The mass start was a thing of the past which, is the sad reality of a COVID running world. However, you will hear no complaints from me on that end. There were three distances to choose from – a 2-miler which stayed primarily on the main city streets, a 5k that added in a section on some paved trails within Ochoco Creek Park (a cool trail I didn’t know existed until this race), and a 10k, which added a larger section around Meadow Lakes Golf Course.
We opted for the longest distance as we really wanted to experience Prineville as much as we could. With the spacing going on, we ended up passing a few people in the 1pm grouping (we started at 115pm), but then mostly were by ourselves for the vast majority of the race. Seriously, for probably 75% of the race, we couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind us. The first mile was on “busier” city streets, but there was plenty of space either on the road or sidewalk. To get to Ochoco Creek Park, we had to cross over 1st Street, and there were great volunteers who handled traffic with ease. Ochoco Creek Park offered a paved mile or so and seems like a great place for a short run and avoiding crossing streets all the time.
At abut mile 2.5, we split off from the 5k course and headed up along the Ochoco Highway for just a short little jaunt before heading down around the streets surrounding the golf course. The overcast weather was absolutely perfect and the solitude was nice as well. I was running with a stroller, so there was one short dirt section that had both me and my four year old giggling with all the bouncing. It would have been perfect for most runners out there!
We were finally spit out in Rimrock Park and enjoyed our short little bridge crossing before heading back to quiet residential streets.
The final few miles flew by as we navigated the neighborhoods and headed back to the finish line. It was cool to see some waves of runners just starting as we were returning to the finish line. In fact over 400 runners participate throughout the course of the day and I saw little other than smiles the entire day. The Crook County Foundation does a fantastic job with this event and really gets the whole community involved. Throughout the weekend, and even during the race, contests were in full effect. One such contest was that runners were given wooden tokens before the race that we could drop off in “pots of gold” and be entered to win raffle prizes. It really is a community effort.
We absolutely had a blast at this event and it really got us amped up for racing in 2021! And get this on your runcation calendar for 2022!