One of my favorite places in the Valley to visit is Newberg. Living in Keizer (just north of Salem), this winegrowing city is really a relatively quick and easy location to get to. They have some really solid restaurants (Ruddick/Wood is our favorite), breweries (Wolves & People), and too many wineries nearby to get to in an entire week. They also have a race each year – The Camellia Run – a 5k/10k that runs through different areas of town and is accompanied by their annual Camellia Festival. The race has been on my radar for a few years now and was very pumped to get out there in 2021 for their return to live racing!
The Camellia Run starts and ends at the Chehalem Cultural Center – a cool location with plenty of open space and just a block from the downtown corridor. This year, they did a staggered start with 30 runners scheduled for every 10 minutes. I don’t know if it was by design or just the way it worked out, but by the time I was ready to go near 920am, it was essentially just a rolling start – whenever a runner was ready, they were free to take off. I know staggered starts are a pandemic thing, but with a few races under my belt like this now in 2021, I am actually starting to like this option. Mass starts can be great for that energy and excitement, but I’m not the world’s fastest runner (especially not with a stroller), and it can be a bummer to get smashed into a huge sea of people for the first few miles. Also, it allows for a little extra time for people like me, who enjoy running new races in new areas, to make the trek.
The first few miles had runners heading North, through some neighborhoods and then on Main Street, passing Jaquith Park. We continued heading north on some long stretches of straightaway. There were periods of sidewalks, but also a few areas where this wasn’t an option. There wasn’t a ton of traffic on the roads, and drivers were courteous, but it did require a lot of peeking over my shoulder.
After a short hill out-and-back (a quarter mile or less) we turned onto the Field Trail along the Darnell Wright Softball Complex, the first short section that looked like this:
Honestly, it was super short and would have been a great reprieve from the pavement – but I did have a stroller which slowed things considerably for me, though my daughter had a great time with all the bumps. A bit after this point, following some neighborhood maneuvering, we hit the halfway mark and started heading more East and then South. The final mile+ allowed us to run near the George Fox University athletic fields (which are MUCH nicer than when I played at them 15 years ago). We ended up back at the end and thought it was cool to see so many runners with a potted Camellia flower – the race and festival namesake – and also a finisher prize for runners!
While there were a variety of turns along the way, there were police stationed along the course for safety. And even with the twisting navigation, there were also a lot of solid straight sections, allowing for speed pick-ups and/or consistency as well. Additionally, while I know the area around Newberg is ripe with hills (it is wine country after all), I never really considered the city itself to be hilly – until after this race. None of them were long or all that tough, but I found myself muttering a few times, “another hill?!”.
This is absolutely an event to check out. Newberg is a pretty easy drive from most spots in the Portland Metro area, as well as the Mid-Valley, and it’s worth the trip. The race was very well done, even during a pandemic, and the festival afterwards was fun as well.