Another rainy Oregon run in the books! I wonder how long I’ll have to keep saying that… I think my tally this year is 7 or 8 rainy races since January. Maybe more? Who knows at this point. But you know what, on a course like the very open and rolling Helvetia Half – rain and clouds were a welcome friend.
Last Saturday I participated in the 10K distance of the 2022 Helvetia Half Marathon, 5K, and 10K. This race from Run with Paula Events of course also offered the half marathon and a 5K option. I enjoyed the heck out of this race. It’s been on my bucket list for a few years. I spend a lot of time out in that area – but it’s mostly in the car or horseback. So this was a real treat getting to spend an hour or so running in the middle of the road through rolling green hills in a light cool rain.
First things first before I get to the deets on the race itself. As usual, I get paranoid about being able to park or getting a little disoriented and having to make a mad dash to packet pick up and the start line. Packet pick up was available several days in advance at Portland Running Company, which I always recommend getting to in advance if you can!
This time around however I had to do the day of packet pick up. Day of pick up started at 6:30 AM, with all races starting at 8 AM. I got there around 7:15 and there was plenty of parking and some lovely volunteers helping to steer us to the most available parking. It’s wonderful too that this started from Hillsboro Stadium – a well known landmark – so it was just a generally easy race to find. There was even signage for the race on Highway 26!
I would recommend getting there between 45 min to an hour early just to not feel rushed. Once I parked, I went to the seamless packet pick up, where for the first time in several races they had COFFEE! They had several big pots of (free) coffee ready and a PILE of bagels waiting for racers. Big thank you to the race organizers for that delight.
I will say the shirt from this race is the nicest one I’ve received so far this year. Great tech quality. I ended up immediately using it the next day and it’s one I’ll keep for sure. In our race packets we also received a pub glass from Portland Running Company (PRC), and a series of other local coupons. Always excited about coupons for free or discounted snacks!
The coupon highlight for me was the one from Old Spaghetti Factory. I’m a gal of simple tastes. Run with Paula and PRC clearly thought of every little detail here. Even the bibs were really neat looking. I have always loved the Run with Paula races for how well organized and how fun they are – but this one so far has been a favorite.
Many vendors had already set up, so I went around and chatted with a few, got my bib on, and then headed over to the race start. They do have a gear check if you need it – but the parking lot is so close I just went back and dropped things back off at the car. After that, I headed over to the race start which was on the road in front of the stadium. This was a pretty good sized race and the air was truly buzzing with excitement! This is clearly a local and likely non-local favorite.
Once we took off, you wind around the stadium along Evergreen Parkway a bit, but then turn on Brookwood Parkway to cross over Highway 26 and you’re quickly surrounded by country scenery. I can’t speak to the full course since I only did the 10K, but I had heard from people that the rolling hills on this course can get you. On the 10K there were some little rolling hills but nothing bad at all – probably only 30-50 feet of elevation gain max.
And! Whatever goes up must come down. The nice thing about the little hills too is that once you’re up a bit – you get some really beautiful sweeping views of the area. I could see how if the sun was out or if it was a hotter day – this course could dehydrate and beat you down quickly. So be prepared for that if you’re setting out for this course on a different day than what we had. The cool drizzle and clouds made my experience very enjoyable. They had very frequent aid stations with water, electrolytes, snacks, and bathrooms. I would say they were probably about every 1.5 to 2 miles so you never went very long without one.
This course is an out and back for each distance so be prepared for that turn around. The 10K one caught me by surprise! I admit I wanted to keep going. I fully plan to come back for the half marathon distance. You meander your way back to the stadium and are greeted along the way by happy volunteers, high school cheer teams, and some locals out to watch the race.
The most fun part for me as an avid baseball fan was that the race ends on the field at the stadium! I assumed the finish line was the same as the start, but in actuality you veer the main road into the parking lot, and are cheered the whole way onto the field. I have a deep affection for the Hillsboro Hops and that stadium. Upon crossing the finish line – you’re giving your medal, there is water and electrolytes available immediately, and when you walk up the stairs there are also bagels, bananas and some other snacks. But the true snack highlight of this race are the burgers! This event ends in your customary race beer and what I’ve been told are famous burgers – which did not disappoint (options for dietary restrictions also very much available).
And here is what you all came for – the TLDR:
- Parking and packet pick up was easy and plentiful.
- The course could be very warm if it’s a day with sun or heat – but for us it was a nice cool day. Be sure to have sunscreen, hat, extra water, etc. if you’re racing on a warmer day.
- Race start is very easy to find and anything you need beforehand is readily available including bathrooms, water, snacks, coffee, etc.
- Lots of volunteers on site and on the course if you need anything. I doubt you’ll get lost on this course but if you did – there is definitely someone around to ask!
- I can’t wait to come back for the half marathon next year! Thank you for a great race PRC and Race with Paula!