Having a Ghoulish Good Time at the 2023 Scary Run

Halloween is my favorite time of year and there’s no better way to celebrate it than to go out and do a race. There are several to choose from in the Pacific Northwest, and Fall really is a great season to showcase all the beauty of the changing leaves and the crisp weather.

This year was the first time I’d done The Scary Run 5k/10k/Half Marathon and I heard I could expect flat roads and pretty views. I received both, and on a gorgeous day that was cold but offered no rain or overcast skies.

I arrived at Reflection Plaza in Washougal with plenty of time to spare, so I was able to find a parking spot in a neighboring area fairly quickly. I was immediately greeted with some of the best “People Watching” scenery I’ve encountered this year so far.

How often do you see a costumed cow and strip of bacon getting photos taken by Michael Meyers (from “Halloween,” not “Austin Powers”) or Forest Gump and Napoleon Dynamite hanging out in the same venue? The vibe was anticipatory, with Halloween music and people out there doing the “Thriller” dance.

As a coach for Foot Traffic’s Women’s Academy, I was looking forward to seeing several members there to run this benchmark race before the Holiday Half, and I wanted to greet all of them before I took off. A lot of races are beginning to dwindle down this time of year, but this event is a great way to get in that last 5k, 10k, or (in my case,) a Half Marathon before the snow and ice are much of a possibility (though in Oregon/Washington, anything is possible.)

The Half took off pretty promptly after the national anthem, and there were not a ton of people there for that distance. It honestly makes more sense for people to gravitate toward a 5k or 10k as the holiday season kicks off, but I’ve never done anything the easy way. The 5k and 10k started a half hour after the Half, so it was a small enough crowd to not feel cramped at the start. There were also a lot of  pacers in bright yellow Foot Traffic singlets holding signs to help keep everyone on track

The terrain for the course is all paved roads and some gravel, but nothing too rocky. There’s one section that runs through the “Scary Forest” where you might encounter people in costumes waiting behind trees or corners to scare you. I myself heard several runners scream out, but no one surprised me. I think my son would have LOVED this part of the course.

After we made our way through the forest, we were taken out to a beautiful section along the Columbia River where it got very windy. We were running directly into headwinds and I almost lost my hat several times. I was running alone, but if I’d had company with me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation at a normal volume.

After about a mile of this, I was offered some reprieve as we headed off the path and out along a road. Eventually we turned around and the wind was back again. It reminded me of the year I’d done Hood To Coast and run through a storm that had forced organizers to shut down the finish line party. It felt like we were at the coast on a really stormy day.

There were other racers from the 5k and 10k along the way and some really fast racers coming back along the course in out-and-back sections. This meant I got to see a little bit of everything out there, including several kids enjoying the day in costumes. I love encouraging others and it’s even better when you get to check out all the costumes too. Let’s forget that I got smoked by a bunch of kids who didn’t seem to even be sweating.

After passing through the wind, there was still a bit more distance left to get through and I was thankful for the flat roads. All of the volunteers and signage encouraged me every step of the way and there were plenty of water stations as well.

When I finally saw the finish line, I was ready for it! They announced my name and there were friends there to cheer for me. There was also some food and beer waiting, but I didn’t feel much like it at the time, so I opted to skip it.

Everyone was super happy and cheerful and the weather could not have been better. What a great way to kick off celebrating the holidays!! Thanks so much to Why Racing Events for making the Scary Run a success!!

About Author

I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.