After racing Cascade Lakes and Hood to Coast (more than once), this relay was a breath of fresh air! First off, it is a 1 day relay…yep, starts and ends all in the same day. That means not overnights in vans and night running. I was the team captain for the Gorgeous Girls. It was a great time. The sign up system is easy and you can edit times and members easily. The captains meeting the week before the race was fun…free beer was given out. The race it self was amazing! The first 8 legs are all through some of the most gorgeous parts of Oregon. After that, the remaining 4 legs are through some of the not so great parts of Portland. I ran leg 5. My first leg was nice and cool through the fall leaves. My second leg was a 6.25 mile stretch of the Spring Water trail. The first 4 miles was not so gorgeous as the trail was lined with homeless camps. All in all, the race directors do a great job pulling together this fun race. The medals were kicking and the finish line beer and party was a blast. I will sign up again for this, Oregon’s best relay!
- bcforster reviewed 2 years ago
I ran the hop hop half this Saturday as a workout for the upcoming Boston Marathon. I knew I wanted to run slightly faster than marathon pace, but not necessarily race. Once on the path along Marine Drive there was a definite headwind to deal with. I instantly decided that the tail wind on the way back would be a nice advantage for running a negative split..so I stuck with my plan of running marathon pace for the first 8-9 miles and then cutting it down to half marathon pace for the finish. The course is flat, with some rollers on the path. While it was nice to run somewhere new and different, the path is very long and straight…which means you can see where you are headed for most of the race…a good and a bad I thought this race was well organized, as most Foot Traffic races are. While I did not partake in the after race treats, the finish area seemed well stocked with goodies, food, etc. My only gripe for this race would be the turnaround around miles 7-8. Here, you actually had to do 3 turnarounds, once after going down and back up a hill, and then a sharp turn to add on a bit on a poorly maintained path-like area. I never like turnarounds in races, but I know they are typically part of faster courses…however having three in less than a mile was a little frustrating. Luckily, once you got through that, you had a tailwind and a mostly straight shot back home so all in all the course was good. All in all, I would recommend this race.
- SqueakMatteson reviewed 1 year ago
This is a hard one to review, because the course is not very interesting or pleasant, the price is steep, and the tech shirts I’ve gotten over the years have been, well, kinda flimsy and cheaply made. BUT, Albertina Kerr is such a fantastic organization to support that I was willing to ignore the fact that I splashed out some serious cash on another run that goes through the usual PDX industrial blight, the somewhat fragrant and always heartbreaking homeless camp areas, and uses the beloved/hated Barbur Blvd climb and dive. If you can overlook the course and the definitive lack of swag (which in my opinion is getting out of hand — I would rather pay $10 less in reg fees than get something like a “collectible challenge coin” — sorry PDX Marathon!) I would recommend this race. It’s a fun run for people who like a big crowd vibe, and it’s well organized and supported. After the run there are plenty of snacks, coffee, and even mimosas (the line for that was super long, so make sure you’re not in a rush to get out.) Bring your own nutrition on the course. Plenty of porta-potties at the start/finish, which is brilliantly held at the convention center so if it’s crappy out you can stretch, relax, listen to music courtesy of 94.7 FM, and feel sad about your tissue-thin shirt in the comfort of the indoors. The medals, however, made up for the shirt, as they were handmade by Kerr clients, which brings me back to my original thoughts on the race — that it helps to check out Albertina Kerr’s programs if you are on the fence about signing up, as you will be so inspired by the organization that you will put it on your calendar for years to come.
- glee reviewed 2 years ago
$25 for a wine tasting ticket on top of >$100 entry fee? Ridiculous. Paying $10-15 to pick up packet someplace other than the expo? Ridiculous. I went to the expo–weak. Very few vendors, race bag “swag” was coffee sample (awesome), a $1.00 off coupon and a tiny square of chocolate….The race “food tent” for runners–one banana, a tiny Clif bar and a tiny bag of pretzels–you got to be kidding me. The course was beautiful and well-supported. Other than that, totally overpriced and I felt “nickeled and dimed” Don’t bother with the wine tasting tickets–drive to any one of some of the wineries around Leesburg and get an uncrowded tasting for a fraction of the cost.
I really look forward to this run; I started three years ago and now I am hooked. The price is super cheap considering you get a quality, long-sleeved Brooks tech shirt, fluid race execution, and nice post-race amenities. The misery of running in Oregon in January is ameliorated by the extremely forgiving course — this sucker is flat and fast. There are a few dips in the road, but other than that you can really get your speed going, you don’t need to conserve for climbs. This can make for some monotony, but the scenery is lovely (rural roads, fallow fields, confused horses wondering what’s going on) and with the exception of dodging the occasional roadkill, you can really focus on “your groove” and have a great run. It’s an out-and-back, so you get to see the speedsters fly by, which is always inspiring. There were a few port-o-potties on the course, but not as many as you’d see in a monster-sized run. There were adequate water stations, but bring your own gel. The run starts at a school, so you get to stay warm and dry inside before the run, and then after you can thaw out with a cup of soup and sit in the cafeteria to watch the awards. Parking at the school is plentiful, which is always a nice treat. Last year I won a raffle prize, which made my day. They have an early start for Half runners who expect to take longer than 2:30, which is a really nice feature, as those of us who aren’t super fast still get to finish with a big crowd and see the awards ceremony. Finishers get a medal, it’s not a monster-sized piece of bling but it’s got the WVRR Roadrunner on it, and has the race date, which makes it awesome. My only tiny gripe — the soup looks delish, but it’s chicken soup, so if you’re a veggie like me, NO SOUP FOR YOU!
I signed up for the 5k this year due to a date conflict with running the half (which I hate to miss because it’s a very pretty run) and was pleasantly surprised with the fun atmosphere and big crowd turnout for the 5k. Packet pickup for any of the Iris runs is very smooth if you do it before the race; the Keizer Chamber of Commerce stays open way late and makes it easy to get your gear, but I can’t comment on race day pickup as I have never had to use it. This year we got a nice cotton shirt (which I was thrilled with — I’m a little tired of tech shirts.) The 5k is an out-and-back along the parade route, and I was not expecting such a big crowd to already be in place for the parade and cheering on the runners — that was a real treat and made it a very festive (albeit overcast and chilly) morning. There was a nice cross-section of running abilities in the race, and tons of families getting out together to run. Which is sort of a mixed blessing; this was the most kid-populated 5k I’ve ever done outside of the Girls on the Run events, so be prepared for a ton of little ones who haven’t learned the race etiquette intricacies of things like not stopping in front of people. It was fun to see kids everywhere, but it wasn’t really fun to try and not fall over them when they dart in front of you and stop to verbally harass their slower siblings! Luckily there was space to get around the wee ones and stretch out to enjoy the flat course. There were plenty of porta-potties at the start, and I was surprised to receive a medal at the finish, which was in addition to a lovely cut iris bloom. Chip timing readouts were available in the tent at the finish with minimal wait. About that tent — it’s got pancakes and breakfast snacks in it! Everyone’s a winner when pancakes are involved!
- LJack13 reviewed 2 years ago
This was a terrific race! I did this in 2013 with two of my girlfriends and will do it again. I’ll admit this was an incredibly hilly course and if you’ve not been hill training it will trash your legs. The race was very well organized from packet pick up, tons of volunteers on the course and at aid stations, to the awards ceremony, to the wine tasting. YES, wine tasting after the race from about 20 local wineries. And the pours are quite generous!! My favorite take away was the race shirt though. I’ve done hundreds of races, but this is a shirt I wear regularly. I cannot recommend this race enough.
- coverbeck reviewed 2 years ago
- last edited 2 years ago
This is my third time doing the Chicago Marathon. I’m drawn to the race because of the energy and size. Never will you feel like you are just out for a training run- the energy and crowds will remind you that this is the day you’ve trained for! I love how the whole city of Chicago seems to rally around the marathon. Of all the marathons I’ve done, the crowd support in Chicago is by far superior. However, with this energy comes the tendency to start too fast- be careful of that!
The Chicago Marathon is a pancake flat course expect for a small short hill at the end. However, I’ve learned that flat is not always the fastest. Some inclines and declines can be nice to switch up the muscle groups. I’d recommend doing some long flat concrete runs to prepare the legs for the repetitive motion and pounding. The other thing is that Chicago is called the Windy City for a reason and the weather is unpredictable. It’s always a gamble if Chicago will be fast conditions but I think it’s a worthwhile gamble.
With the participant size of the Chicago Marathon come the perk of lots of people to run with and water stations go on for a whole city block and are every few miles. You never have to worry that you will miss an aid station.
As for after the race, I can’t think of a better city to enjoy! Bonus: you won’t feel weird hobbling down stairs after the marathon because it seems like half the city is as well!
In the past I’ve done the Mustache Dache in Corvallis and found it to be a super fun, festive event with great energy, so I knew I wanted to do it again this year. I signed up for the Portland event, just to mix things up, and HOLY CRAP ON A HOCKEY STICK this course was a RODEO. They are marketing this event ALL WRONG. It’s not a 5k, it’s a MARCH UP THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. The first two miles or so are an unrelenting climb — sometimes steep. I saw people stopping to lean on recycling bins. Folks were sitting down on front lawn landscaping boulders. There was no break from your journey directly into the sky until you hit the top and started the STEEP downhill and prayed to your ancestors that you didn’t tear your tendons out of your shoes trying not to go flying into the side of someone’s house. It was nuts, people. Just nuts. They really need to re-brand this into a Facial Hair Hill Climb 5k Hellfest or something, because if you can run this whole thing without dying you are a SAVAGE BEAST.
Packet pickup was fast and friendly, shirts were great, and sized appropriately. If you were freezing you could hang out in the awesomeness that is Big Al’s. Plenty of port-o-potties. Small vendor turnout. Big, happy crowd. You get to run alongside a pack of Tom Sellecks. Booze and a few of the usual snacks post-race. One complaint — you had to hunt down water after you finished (and were over being curled up in a ball, clutching your quads, and crying) and then they ran out and had to find more. Medal was a cool, and holy cow YOU EARN IT.
I don’t recommend this as a “first 5K!” because it will make you hate running, but if you want a challenge, put it on your calendar for next year.
Hood to Coast truly is the “Mother of all Relays” but once you’ve done it once (which you should), you don’t need to waste your time doing again. The traffic can be a nightmare and traffic on top of 1500 sleep deprived drivers doesn’t make for a good situation. The after part is fun. The medals are cheap and junky compared to any other in my collections. A medal should match the journey and Hood to Coast is an epic journey with a fail of a medal. The race covers some gorgeous terrain that Oregon has to offer but there are just simply too many teams allowed to race to make it worth your time.
The price is right, the atmosphere pleasant, the people friendly, and you get a tasty bag of hazelnuts at the finish line. The course is a bit of a challenge — there’s a climb at the start but then a fast downhill and some flat streets to the finish. Good race for a winter racing tune-up, and when you’re done running you can enjoy the nice vendors at the Hazelnut Festival. There’s a decent-sized, multi-ability crowd, and plenty of speedy competition if you’re up for some hustle. Indoor bathrooms and warmth at the start, plenty of roadside parking near the start/finish. Race Northwest always does a nice job, I’ve found.
- SqueakMatteson reviewed 2 years ago
- last edited 1 year ago
I run the half marathon every year, and it’s become one of my very favorites. The expo is great — good selection of vendors, guest speakers, and booths for races that will give you great discounts if you sign up at the expo. The participant shirt is a nice, long-sleeved tech shirt. Packet pickup is organized and painless. You start down by the EMP and the Space Needle and go out by some of Seattle’s most beautiful buildings — architecture buffs will enjoy this race. The course has some climbs, but nothing that will ruin your life if you’ve trained for them. There are plenty of port-o-potties and aid stations along the course, with great traffic control and volunteer support. Last year it was freezing so the spaces around the aid stations were icy — if the weather is cold be prepared. After you leave the city, you’ll go through some beautiful neighborhoods, so you get a nice mix of urban and residential, with some lovely views of the lake. There’s a peaceful climb through the arboretum, and a super cool run through a tunnel. You’ll finish on the turf at the Memorial Stadium, which is always fun. The medal is quality, and in previous years they were being handed out by some most excellent military folks. This race has one of the best post-race situations out there — you’ll go inside and thaw out, get some tasty soup, plenty of hydration, another chance to pick up more swag from vendors, and relax with all the other happy finishers.
- SqueakMatteson reviewed 2 years ago
- last edited 2 years ago
This is one of those races that you will be bragging finishing about for YEARS. People will have to listen to you talk about it every day for at least a month afterwards, because that’s the minimum time it takes to forget the pain of running through several miles of ice-cold, ankle-deep Northwest lake clay. This is a true trail challenge, and a foolish venture if you’re not prepared. I did the 25k, which takes place the day after the 50k runners tear up the trail and make it good and sloppy. This would be a challenging run even without the mud; the trail is single track and technical. There aren’t too many elevation challenges, but elevation will be the least of your problems, thanks to the sloppy, slippery, constant thrill of running in mud. You get a break from the mud on a small stretch of paved road, but then you’re right back in the slop. Seriously — check out the race photos from previous years. They tell the tale.
The aid stations will go down in history as some of the best — gels, fruit, candy, peanut butter sandwiches, and a nice selection of hydration drinks. Volunteers are friendly, there’s a real Hagg Family vibe going on, and race directors are very responsive to runner questions.
One caution — if you break your stuff on the course, like I did, it can be a treacherous limp to the main road to hope someone comes by and gives you a lift. Hopefully they’ve improved upon that, as the year I broke my ankle on the course I had climb to the main road and wait for help until a woman drove by looking for her husband, and she ended up picking up a few of us gimps without intending to (super nice lady!)
Packet pickup is easy, shirt is nice, and in the past you got some cool finisher’s socks. I think they started giving out medals, but that started the year I broke my ankle and there ain’t no socks, medals, or swag for the DNF-ers. Very well organized, a beautiful setting, and a crazy hard run. My ankle didn’t heal right so I won’t be doing it again, but I am glad that I did.
- emruns reviewed 2 years ago
At least once in a lifetime runners should compete in a World Marathon Major. It’s an incredible, unforgettable experience, regardless of the outcome of the race. I chose to run the 2015 Bank of Chicago Marathon as a last attempt at an Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard. I didn’t hit my goal, but I still completely enjoyed running in such a huge, high energy marathon.
The best thing about running a race like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the intense energy of the experience. I was so motivated by the company of 45,000 runners, all with their own goals and reasons for running the race. You can’t help but feel inspired on race morning, standing in the corral, waiting for the gun. I love the positive energy brought by a crowd of dream chasers.
With 45,000 runners, It is important for a race to be well-organized. The Chicago Marathon was exceptional in this regard. They thought of every detail. Packet pickup was relatively short and painless. The race provided shuttles to and from the expo. We were in and out in no time. I will say, give yourself extra time on race morning. Even with supreme organization, it takes awhile to get 45,000 runners through the security checkpoints and on to the starting line.
I was impressed with the amount of fluids and fuels available on the course. I had no trouble getting enough Gatorade and water from the volunteers. Stations were placed at least every two miles. One running tip: Don’t go for the first cup you see. Run a little further down the line. This prevents collisions and backup on the course.
The course is billed as flat and fast. There is a small incline at the 26 mile mark. It is placed perfectly to feel like Mt Everest at the end of the race. The course is definitely fast, but the repetitive pounding takes it’s toll. There are also many turns through the neighborhoods. Failing to run the tangents will add time and distance to your race. There is a blue line that indicates the shortest distance through the course. Stick to that line.
As with all marathons, weather can be a total crap shoot. This year, the weather was a bit warm for marathoning, with temps in the 50s-60’s. However, it was pretty breezy, with winds in the 15-20 mph range. It wasn’t too noticeable during the first half, but definitely hindered the second half of the race. Just be prepared for anything, and adjust your race plan accordingly.
A couple of tips for a great Chicago Marathon experience: First, fly in at least two days before the race. It takes extra time and energy to get from the airport to downtown Chicago, get familiar with the start and finish areas, and pick up packets. Give yourself time for error, and to relax. Secondly: Do not wear a Garmin in the race. Wear a basic watch, and learn your splits. With the underpass, the many turns, and all the buildings, I guarantee that your GPS will be off. It’s best not to rely on it’s accuracy. Third, write your name down your arms or display it prominently on your body. The crowds are amazingly supportive. If they can see your name, they will cheer for you, which provides a much needed energy boost to the struggling marathoner.
Finally, don’t let the crazy energy pull you out too quickly. It’s easy to give in to adrenaline, nerves, and thousands of screaming spectators. Rein it in early.
I enjoyed the Chicago Marathon immensely. I wish I had scheduled a couple more days in the city for sightseeing. Chicago is a beautiful, tourist friendly city. Turn the running trip into a mini-vacation. There is so much to do and see. I missed out by being a little too focused and business minded in my approach to the race. In addition, make sure to take it all in. I remember nothing from the course except an Elvis impersonator. The course showcases 29 Chicago neighborhoods, so look up occasionally. A marathon of this size and magnitude should be about much more than the outcome. It should be about creating lasting running memories. Enjoy the experience.
- SqueakMatteson reviewed 1 year ago
- last edited 1 year ago
We almost missed this, as we got lost trying to find the park (note to self: your GPS unit isn’t technicallycapable of lying to you, so please learn to trust it.) But once we arrived, check-in went smooth and we were ready to roll. It’s a low-key, no frills race which is extremely affordable and the people running it are very friendly and helpful. Bring cash or check for race day registrations. The trail was more challenging than we expected, with some mud pits and some rough terrain — after shredding my ankle on a mud run I’ve been nervous about trail runs and thought this would be a good intro, I think maybe I was a little paranoid but I am not taking any chances! My friend brought her big, happy running dog and he had a BLAST! There were a few big dogs and a few little dogs, just enough to keep our companion pup happy and headed towards the finish line to sniff and wag with his new friends. The park is lovely, and not super busy, so there are nice spots to stretch out in the sun and enjoy the post-race food and drink. Plenty of parking, but it’s in a field, so leave your Lamborghini at home. The only complaint was that the trail can get backed up in spots, especially if you’re behind someone who is determined to not wreck their brand new kicks in a slop pit. My friend is looking forward to this year, and plans to try out the 10k. I highly recommend this to people who are looking to try out trail running and need a friendly, challenging but not miserable race to get started with.
- Larry Merrifield reviewed 2 years ago
Why do I do this race every year? Because it is not only a chance to run in front of thousands of spectators, it is also a chance to run a very challenging course and some surprisingly deep competition.
The Starlight Run has been run annually since 1979. In that time it has started in three different places but always finished at the same place – Lincoln High School. In the early years it started at the Memorial Coliseum and then ran across the Broadway Bridge where it joined the parade route downtown. After a couple of years the start moved to Benson High School where the race became a very unique one – it was a 6K or 3.73 miles. I believe it was about 10 years ago the race moved to its present location at SW 16th & Jefferson. I wish I could be more specific, but when you run a race 33 times they all tend to run together.
Yes, you read that right. I’ve run Starlight 33 consecutive years. I’m a streaker and when it comes to races this is my longest streak, and that gets me to why I love this race.
At the heart of the matter, despite some fast times up front, the chance to run in the evening and a challenging course, this is a fun run. Gun goes off, you run hard for 5k and you finish noting your time. No awards unless you are top 3, just the satisfaction of having run hard and enjoyed an evening run with friends, perhaps while costumed, in front of well over 100,000 people. How often do that many people come out to watch a race? Outside of this race? Zero. During the race kids are constantly looking to give you a “high five” as you run by and the cheer from the crowd is constant. It is a great feeling to hear all that cheering since so often we race on empty streets where the only sound is the footstrikes and breathing of other runners.
The entry fee is reasonable and for it you are treated to a post-race concert and samples from vendors like Clif Bar. You get a well-organized start/finish area with a bag check and a pre-race costume contest.
I’ll point out the only fault I can find with this race – it’s a long 5K. I’ve run it enough times with my Garmin, and I am enough of a running geek to focus on running the tangents, to say that 3.23 miles each year means this course is long by a little. Having said that, this is a fun run, so it really doesn’t matter.
If you missed the Starlight Run this year, put it on your calendar for next year and enjoy an evening race through the streets of downtown.
Smooth packet pickup and plenty of porta-potties at start. Nice course, good course support, and you get to run over bridges twice. Not super hilly or challenging. Thought I’d gotten a shiny new PR, but the course had to be shortened at the last minute, and they didn’t tell us until it was over. Hope they work out the kinks with the course, because it was great to get to finish up to the sound of blues. OK shirt, nice medal. Worth sticking with until they get the kinks figured out.
- Aurora Taylor reviewed 2 years ago
Not only was this the inaugural year for this race, it was also my first full marathon. I’ve had an illogical fear of 26.2 since my stress fracture three years ago, and this race seemed like the perfect mix of trail, hills, elevation, etc., to keep me focused more on finishing and less on time. Plus I love Bend and was excited to be a part of something in such a beautiful area! So when a friend mentioned I consider Bend, I jumped at the opportunity.
The race is all as it’s advertised: Beautiful scenery, hilly, challenging, but not impossibly so. Kerry and Blair did an excellent job at organizing the race and with the exception of a few minor hiccups, the race was well-marked and well-supported. Plenty of porta-potties, aid stations every two miles or so (less on the first half of the race), accurate pace group leaders, awesome custom medals, etc. You would not have been able to tell it was an inaugural race if they hadn’t said it many times
It was also a good race for spectators. The start was cold but I was able easily drop off clothing with my friends at the end of mile 2. They caught me again at miles 13/20 (the out and back on the Cascade Scenic Highway) and it was nice having them to look forward to. They could have easily caught me in more places but decided instead to grab coffee. A person could easily jump in and pace on the back half of the course, or ride alongside a marathoner via bicycle.
As for the course goes, it was challenging, and not just because it was my first full. I had done five long runs over 20 miles, with one at 23 miles, and several on trail, so I felt adequately prepared for the hills, occasional gravel, and elevation. But this full is not for the faint of heart, and does require some extra preparation than Portland or Eugene. If you are from the Willamette Valley, you will feel the altitude at about miles 8-10, and will need to drink more water than usual and probably slow your pace down just slightly. But the views and the challenge makes this a great destination race, and the sense of accomplishment afterward makes the challenge worth it!
- SqueakMatteson reviewed 2 years ago
- last edited 2 years ago
This is another well-organized event with great turnout that is hopefully helping to put Salem on the map as a great town for running. The registration fee is VERY low ($12 before race day!) and you get accurate timing and a smoothly executed event. It takes place in Minto Brown park, which is a very beautiful park with paved trails and well-groomed bark sections that are a springy pleasure to run along. There’s plenty of parking at the start. I was initially worried at the small amount of porta-potties at the start, but the wait was short so it doesn’t seem to be a problem. The route is pretty flat, with a few small, easy rollers along the riverside part of the path, so it’s great if you feel the need for speed. The 10k has a short section of dirt/gravel road that I didn’t find too difficult to navigate; I’ve heard that the 5k is all on paved trails. Bib pickup was stress-free (no shirts, which is fine because it keeps the cost low, and the $$ goes to a school track club) Starting can be crowded, the trails are sorta narrow so there’s a bit of dive ‘n’ dodge for the first mile before things spread out. The 10k draws the more competitive folks, but the 5k has a more diverse selection of speedsters to walkers, and would be great for a first-time 5k. There were a number of strollers in the 5k, too, so it’s inclusive for families out enjoying the start of summer. They have a sundae bar at the end that is included in the race entry and a few bucks extra for your non-running guests. My only gripe outside of the starting mile dodge ‘n’ dive was that it was a bit of a hunt to find water at the end of the 10k; I was in the back of the group so I had to muscle my way through the happy post-run icecream snackers to get to the water. That having been said, I always look forward to this run — it’s great way to end a work day, and welcome in my favorite season in a super nice runner-friendly gem of a park.
- Larry Merrifield reviewed 2 years ago
With the exception of 2011, when I was in Eugene coaching an athlete to an Olympic Trials berth in the marathon, I’ve run Bloomsday every year since 1991, which also happens to be my fastest year.
Bloomsday is a true celebration of running. It offers international competition at the front, several start waves which accommodate all participants, and a challenging course for everyone. It is a race which the entire city of Spokane comes out to celebrate and cheer on every participant and at the end there is a giant party in Riverfront Park. For those who aren’t looking to run a 12K you can still walk as the final wave is the walker/stroller wave. There isn’t a time-limit to get off the course, so people are free to move at their own pace over the entire distance.
What is it that draws 50,000 runners every year to the streets of Spokane? First off the entry fee. It costs just $18 to run the 12K ($35 on race day weekend) and for that you get a tee-shirt at the finish and results card mailed to you post-race. You get a well-organized packet pickup with a virtual goodie bag so you can pick and choose those offerings you would like. The race course is closed to traffic and has 4 aid stations and porta-potties every mile. The result? A well-supported race which brings people back year after year.
The course is one of the more challenging courses around, but don’t let that mislead you. The women’s world record for 12K was set on this course just a few years ago. The first mile is flat, while the second mile features a 800m downhill followed by an 800m climb. The third mile is flat for the first half and the climbs past a cemetary before a flat fourth mile. The fifth mile starts downhill but then has the largest climb on the course up the famed “Doomsday” Hill, which is an 800m climb leading to a flat final two and one-half miles.
Bloomsday is held the first Sunday in May, so mark your calendar and make arrangements to experience this world-class race. You won’t be disappointed.
I wish the Iris half and full marathons attracted a larger crowd, because the route is so pretty and there’s truly a welcoming atmosphere towards the runners. I’ve done the half three years in a row, and unless there’s a conflict, I will run it every year. Packet pickup is convenient if you get your goods before the race at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, and they have later hours for working people and are easy to find in the Keizer Station shopping complex. In the past the race started at the Keizer Station, and I wish they could go back to that as that was very convenient. But, they have moved the start/finish to a section of the Iris Festival parade route, so parking can be tricky as it’s mostly on side streets. The starting and finishing section of the out-and-back course is in a residential neighborhood, but you quickly go out into the rolling countryside and past the beautiful farmlands full of various crops; the highlight of the race used to be running past the iris fields, I wish that would come back, as the first year I ran it was the only year I got to go by the fields of gorgeous blooms. BUT, that route also incorporated a super steep hill, “Suicide Hill”, which came at the part of the run where you seriously doubt the reasons you sign up for half marathons in the first place, so the change has created a nice, relatively flat course. It’s also walker-friendly as the roads, although they aren’t closed, are quiet and well-monitored. There are aid stations every two miles, and usually have water and Gatorade, but no gels or anything like that so bring your own. I did hear some complaints about porta-potties on the course, but I never use them during a run so I don’t keep track. One or two of the mile markers can sometimes be a little off, so be aware and trust your gadgets. At the finish there are volunteers handing out irises (my favorite flower!) and medals. The medals aren’t super fancy, but this is one of the more affordable halfs out there so I am not going to gripe. After you finish, hobble over to the Festival Tent for pancakes and drinks. The 10kers and fast halfers can sometimes deplete the food supply, though, so walkers and marathoners might be left out, unfortunately. Hopefully as the event grows, so will the pancake supply!
My husband and I ran this race in 2015 when Uberthons was hosting it at Forest Grove High School. We trained for 4.5 months and raced our perfect race thanks to the awesome group of Pacers. The course was an out and back, which at first, I was not thrilled about but once I ran it, I was so glad it was. It was nice to run past the same place again and know where the aid stations were. Aid stations…there seemed to be one every mile to mile and a half. This was nice since early September in Oregon can still get hot. The race swag was great! A nice shirt and a great heavy medal complete with my bib number and name on the back. My one an only complaint is that they closed the aid station at mile 12 EARLY! I am not talking just a little before the last runners came through but rather closed right at the start of the middle of the packers were coming through.
- Mariah Jeffery reviewed 1 year ago
- last edited 1 year ago
First, I must admit that I may be slightly biased because I am the race director for this event. However, I will try to make my review as unbiased as possible.
The race starts at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. One of the benefits of this is having plenty of real restrooms, not porto potties, to use prior to the race. I don’t think I waited more than 2 minutes.
Admittedly, last year’s race course was a bit awkward. The entry point to the DEQ resulted in a backup of traffic. Also, doing a 180 degree turnaround on the track to start the second lap of the 10K was not ideal. That’s why we changed the race course to a faster and flatter out and back course for 2016.
One of the unique things about this race is that it offers a series of optional fitness challenges after the 5K or 10K run. Last years challenges included burpees, push-ups, planks, box jumps and jump ropes. The participants earned points for scoring in the top 5 by gender. Massive trophies were awarded for the fitness challenge winner and the male and female winners of the 5K and 10K.
The race also offered lots of great food and some amazing prizes in the raffle.
New for 2016, Play.Fit.Fun will be sponsoring a kids’ obstacle course. This is completely free for the kids and they even get a free ice cream coupon for participating.
Please join us on February 27, 2016!
- Linda McMillin reviewed 2 years ago
The first time I ran Santa Barbara Wine Country Race was my 2nd Destination Race event. I loved the first one in Oregon so much that I thought – why not go to Santa Barbara? We (Bruce, Koko & I) stayed in Solvang, just blocks from the finish. The area is so beautiful – full of incredible oak trees, Danish building, the Solvang Brewery and wineries. Even though it was only my second DR race, the staff remembered us! Destination Races doesn’t just put on a great half marathon – they give you an experience you will never forget! The pre-race dinners are incredible and this was no exception! We had dinner with a local photographer/runner and other runners from all over. The course is beautiful – going past vineyards, through Los Olivos and up that lovely hill! Last year, there was a couple who stopped off in Los Olivos and got married! Like all DR races, the organization, race support and post race wine tasting party was spectacular!
- Run Oregon Blog reviewed 2 years ago
In my second weekend of back-to-back races, the inaugural 2015 Volcano Half Marathon exploded onto the scene and into my heart on Sunday, May 3, 2015. This race, put on by Run With Paula, was everything a new race should be: well-organized, unique, measured, and fun. And Paula knocked it out of the park.
After competing in the Sisters Better Half Marathon and Bend Marathon and Half in late April, and the Willamette Mission Trail Challenge on May 2, this race was the culmination of 4 races, 8 days, and 45 racing miles. I wasn’t necessarily tired, but I was just a bit sluggish. The perfect temperatures and blue skies were a natural remedy and elixir for a weary morning – and it didn’t hurt that the race was in my hometown as well.
The finish of both distances (half and 5k) were at Volcanoes Stadium, the home of the Single-A Minor League affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Volunteers were extremely helpful through the quick registration and packet-pick up lines – a theme that was very prevalent throughout the course of the event.
Following the quick shuttle ride to Willamette Mission State Park, we all took off into the quiet and peaceful rural streets of unincorporated Keizer. This is an area I am very familiar with, as I have done many a training bike rides out on these roads. We got to pass hop farms (including a farm owned by Hood River’s Full Sail Brewery), red clover fields, and farmland as far as the eye could see.
While the course was not closed to traffic, there wasn’t much motorized traffic at all. In fact, there seemed to be more race personnel and local fire/police assistance than anything else. I never felt unsafe at all. The hill around mile 4 was a bit of a challenge, but we quickly headed downhill shortly thereafter and continued with a steady straight course. This portion of the course, I was also very familiar with, as it is a running route AND the reverse direction of the Keizer Iris Festival Half Marathon loop that has been around for a handful of years. The last few miles spit us back out into civilization for a straight stretch on Lockhaven Dr. and some neighborhood streets before the stadium came into sight.
As I mentioned initially, the organization and support were fantastic.The aid stations were never an issue and they appeared with great frequency. Additionally, the volunteers were amazing. Everyone was paying attention, smiling, and some were even blowing bubbles. obviously Paula’s happy demeanour had rubbed off on everyone!
After the race, we were treated to a free hamburger (hotdog or garden burger), drink, chips, and cookies – as well as standard post-race faire. Live music by the Ben Rice Band was providing a great auditory background as we waited for results soaking up the mid-morning sunshine.
If you haven’t run in Keizer before, I highly recommend this race. If you haven’t run a Run With Paula event before, I highly recommend this race. If you like quiet, rural runs to lose yourself in the serenity of, I highly recommend this race.
In summation, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS RACE.
View full results here.
The next Run With Paula event is the Independence Day 10k, which takes place in the city of Independence and the famous Rogue Brewery hopyards.