Riding off into the 2022 Appletree Sunset 5K & Half Marathon

The Appletree Half Marathon has become an essential part of my fall running schedule. There are a couple of clear reasons why. First, Why Racing puts one well-organized, well-supported, and shiny-medaled (yes, that’s a word) events. Second, it lands perfectly in the schedule as a training run for Portland Marathon. And third, it is just so lovely to have an apple-themed race in September (aka back to school) and in Washington (aka the apple state).

This year I decided to take on the double-challenge of completing the Sunset 5K on Saturday night and then the Appletree Half Marathon on Sunday morning. It was a great way to work on marathon training and meant earning a bonus “Beast Medal” after the second event. The Sunset 5K was in absolutely perfect, sunshiny weather. Lots of family and kids were there, make the race feel more like a walk in the park than exercise.

The course was primarily an out-and-back in the Fort Vancouver area. There is one overpass portion that gets pretty tight, but for the most part there is plenty of room to spread out. The turnaround is at the site of the oldest apple tree in Washington; that is also where the aid station was making it double-wonderful. At the finish line, I was with a lovely medal that almost looked like stained glass, a new pint glass, and lots of treats at the after-party. The beautiful weather kept folks around for a while to enjoy music, vendors, and plenty of space on the field to spread out.

When the alarm went off Sunday morning (less than 10 hours after finishing the 5K), I knew this adventure was going to a whole new level. I headed back to Vancouver, looking forward to the weather forecast in the 60s with cloud cover. My plan was to stick with a pace group I knew I was comfortable in, push play on the podcasts, and enjoy a long training run with a shiny medal at the end.

The Appletree Half Marathon course uses a lot of great areas of the city, providing participants with a good overview of what this community has to offer. The marathoners complete the course twice, making them just amazing…and a little bit crazy. The course starts by heading into downtown, then turning toward the waterfront for an out and back past homes, through an industrial area, and into a park. The final portion is back through Fort Vancouver (like the 5K), including a mile 12 that always feels much much longer.

The clouds were not as present in the sky as I’d hoped (never a good sign when you can count the number) and a cough that had been pestering kicked in a bit extra. All that meant I had to let go of
my pace group about halfway through, but with some walking and lots of water at the aid stations, I was able to keep moving back toward the finish line. I earned that lovely medal at the finish line, and the snarling beast medal from the awards stage. And even more epic was getting to eat two apple pies in two days. I mean, when in the apple state you have to live it up.

Appletree will definitely be on the calendar again for fall 2023. Hopefully with a couple more clouds for a couple more shiny medals.

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Educator. Learner. Runner. Writer. TBD.

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