Every time I go to Vancouver, Washington I have the same thought: I should visit here more often. And since every time I go there is for a race, I then have another thought: I should visit here without regretting my mileage choices. And recently at the Couve Clover Run, those thoughts were back again.
I happily chose the Lucky 7-Mile distance this year which is an out-and-back along the waterfront followed by a loop course around Fort Vancouver. The starting area was in a spacious area on the waterfront with construction zones nearby promising more buildings in the coming year. The 2021 race was also in this area but last time cones, tape, and flags kept people apart. In 2022, the area near the starting line was much more crowded as we all enjoyed the newly relaxed social distancing and masking regulations. Though when the announcer encouraged participants to give one another a high five… that was a little too relaxed for me.
The 9am start time and sunny weather was the perfect foundation for the race. Participants had three distance options (3, 7, or 10 miles) with the two longer distances starting first. The intention was to get our group out and beyond the course split point before the 3-milers crowded in. The plan worked great for the start, but less great when a bridge area got congested among 3-mile walkers, 7-mile mid-packers, and 10-mile speedsters. Maybe next year a longer wait between start times, or a different direction on the course, can help with that struggle spot.
Back to all the goodness of this race. The Vancouver Waterfront is a beautiful area with new homes, lots of restaurants, and sidewalks plenty wide to add the runners among the regular Sunday morning community. The loop around Fort Vancouver was challenging after 4 generally flat miles on sidewalks and streets. Switching to gravel then a short (but steep) hill had me grateful that I was around mile 5 of 7 rather than heading toward 10. Back over the bridge, it felt like a blink of an eye and I was approaching the finish line.
With my shiny new medal / bottle opener in hand, I wandered through the after-party to cool down and search for recovery snacks. A tented area had volunteers providing sandwiches, soup, cookies, and (for the 21 and overs) beer. This area was also used for the race awards. I wandered past the 10 or so vendors then headed back to my nearby car with my swag bag (shirt, gloves, glass, snacks, etc.).
I’m glad this race is starting to become a spring tradition in my running calendar. Why Racing Events knows how to put on a great race with great volunteers and great swag. And I’m just lucky enough to be in their neighborhood.