“Wow, I didn’t realize this race was such a big deal!”
This was the remark from one of my friends as we headed our way to our best determined pace group at the 2022 Foot Traffic Holiday Half, 10 Miler, 10k, and 5k. I only smiled. This event is THE holiday running event in Portland, maybe in part because there aren’t a lot of winter race options, but also because it’s such a great event in the first place.
I’ve run the Holiday Half multiple times, and the only complaint I’ve ever had is that it’s COLD. But what does one expect in December in Oregon? There are some fair-weather runners in these parts but overall PNWers are pretty dedicated to not letting cold or wet stop them from enjoying a race. Even if that race keeps your toes numb for 2 miles like one year’s Holiday Half did for me. It’s still worth it. Why? Here are my top 5 reasons.
- We’re all in this together. People come out in droves for this event, as you can maybe tell by the opening comment by my friend. There’s really a distance for most everyone.. a 5k for the “bust it out and get it done” crowd, a 10k for those craving a bit more, a 10 miler for those who don’t feel quite ready for the half, and the Half Marathon for the people like me, who are always gluttons for punishment and want the most milage possible for bragging rights. There are adorable kiddos, elite-level runners and everyone in between. Also, can we give the volunteers and on-course entertainment a shout out for standing in the cold for us? Us runners LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
- The People Watching is better than the Macy’s Day Parade. People go all out for this. There’s a costumer contest, and people take that challenge seriously. You’ll see many merry elves slogging through the course and jingle bells galore. People dress like Santa, Mrs. Claus, gingerbread people, and candy canes. One year I saw “The Dude” out in his bathrobe. I absolutely love all the costumes and it also gives me inspiration for next year. I always look for sales on Christmas-themed running gear in January. That’s how I got my Brooks Christmas running shirt on clearance!!
- Speaking of clothes, let’s talk about swag. Every year, the race shirts get better. This year, Foot Traffic gave us an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” theme. I really loved the cut of this long sleeve tech shirt this year, (available in both men’s and women’s sizing) as many races give us ill-fitting cheapo shirts, so this is always a nice treat. Also, the Holiday Half always has the most adorable medals, so much so that my kids look forward to seeing them when I get home. This year was no exception and the huge medal featured “Ugly Sweater Freddi,” (more on him for #5 of the list.) Also, you get a free beer from Rogue!!
- The chance to dream about the 12 days of Christmas. Or what you’re buying for your aunt for Christmas maybe. Or maybe evern just an opportunity to get out of the house for an afternoon among all the craziness. And why do you get this luxury? Because this event is so well organized, there’s no reason you can’t let your mind wander. When you get there, parking is easy (though please do get there early because there are a lot of crowds, in case you hadn’t guessed that already.) There are many porta potties at the start, and this is phenomenal because the line goes fast. (If you’re like me, you ALWAYS have to use one when you get there even if you went right before you left the house.) There are pace groups with staggered starts and signs, so you can find the right place to stand. There were heat lamps too this year though it wasn’t as cold as some years past. The course is well marked so you won’t get lost. The aid stations are stocked and there are a lot of them, all with great volunteers. There is Christmas music on the course in many places, including carolers. There are also many vendor tents available with different types of food and beverages, and post-race music, raffles, and random door prizes as well. Overall, it’s just a great trip from beginning to end.
- The cookies, the hot chocolate, and Freddi the Yeti. And finally, there are holiday cookie aid stations! Yep, really! Afterwards, enjoy your beer from Rogue and check out all that food (and coffee!!) options mentioned in #4 available to you. And last but definitely NOT least, Freddi will be waiting for you. Freddi the Yeti has been a mascot for this event for years and we love him so much!!
So who’s ready for next year?! It’s kinda a big deal.