After years of wondering about the Camellia Run and its accompanying festival, I was finally able to make it to this event. Despite the forecast of rain, I arrived at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg with the sun making a surprise appearance. Food carts and vendors surrounded the starting area, a local yoga instructor led pre-race yoga; and inside the Cultural Center, the set up for the Camellia Festival had begun. There was no question this was setting up to be a good day.
About 400 other 5K and 10K runners joined me at the start line with the sun still peeking out between the clouds. Newberg’s mayor said a few words then sent us off with the blast of an air horn. The chatter around me was positive and cheerful. I passively listened to bits and pieces of conversations and enjoyed the cacophony surrounding me. About a mile in, the 10K and 5K parted ways. I turned onto the 10K course and the crowd thinned dramatically. Almost instantly, silence replaced the cheerful chatter. Clearly, most people had registered for the 5K.
I settled into a quieter run as the 10K runners were more spread out. We ran past farmland, around ball fields (with a very exciting softball game being played), through a variety of neighborhoods, past churches, by a track and field event on the George Fox campus, and under a train trestle. I have to be honest – I really had no idea where I was and how to get back. Fortunately, signage for the route and cheerful race volunteers were strategically located and I never once worried about getting lost. And, I never even had to pause at an intersection, because the police were on top of stopping traffic as soon as each runner neared the crossing.
After the race I followed the pink camellias painted on the sidewalk to pick up my potted camellia. I have to admit, the promise of a free gallon-sized camellia was definitely a factor in my decision to run this race. I am looking forward to seeing camellias blooming in my yard in the near future.
Before leaving, I went inside to check out the bloom competition. Contestants were still entering their best blooms in various divisions. Each Camellia flower was floating in a tiny little bowl of water. I have never seen anything like it. And, I’m really not sure how the judges could decide the winners, but it looked super cool.
My overall impression of the Camellia Run was positive. I saw many parts of Newberg I had never seen, there were real pre-race bathrooms, the race was well-organized, I got a free flower, and I didn’t get rained on. Not a bad April morning!
If you haven’t been to the Camellia Run yet, put it on your calendar for 2023. I think you’ll be glad you did.