Signing up for this race was an experiment that turned out better than I had anticipated. I was super curious to see if racing in the evening as opposed to the a.m. would have a deleterious effect on performance, so I signed up to find out. And to be completely honest, I signed up because all of the race swag would have owls on it. I love owls. An owl medal? OHMYLORD yes. Gimme one of those! Pre-race instructions were clear and plentiful, and I had originally signed up for the 1/2 marathon but was able to switch to the 10k with ease. Traffic on I-5 getting to Vancouver was as expected — terrible — so if you sign up plan on getting to the race as early as you can. Even if you get there ridiculously early, Vancouver Lake park is just a beautiful place to relax and wait. Parking was easy and well-managed. Race day packet pickup was quick, with one quibble — if you went to the picnic table on the left, you got to pick from this year’s or last year’s shirts, and if you went to the table on the right, you got the current year’s (and a little bit of attitude if you asked for last year’s.) I like to have the dates and places on shirts, and none of the shirts did. At least my tank top has an owl on it, that helps ease the pain. And the owl glows in the dark, which is super nifty. Pre-race instructions were clear and delivered frequently. The supercool Last Rites drum corp was there to get people motivated and ready to run. There was an option for an early start for the half marathoners, which, as a turtle, I always appreciate. The running path was well marked, and the park is absolutely beautiful. There were almost no elevation changes save for one short uphill sprint at mile threeish, and the path was decently maintained. There were plenty of aid stations on the 10 and 5k routes, I suspect that the Half was also well-equipped. Volunteers were cheerful and helpful. The park path was narrow, and after the 10k turnaround it became a bit of a parking lot in spots, with 5k walkers (and 10k walkers who thought the early Half start was also for them) three to five abreast across the path. I felt bad for the speedsters, as they had a lot of zig zagging added to their workout. Names were announced crossing the finish line (Huber Timing always does a great job) and the medals are adorable. Also no date or location on them — another small quibble. After the race things got a little confusing, as you had to go get a cup of water from a small table that was mobbed. I had water in my closely parked car so I skipped standing in line for water and instead got in the superlong burrito and beer line. I guess they ran out of beer early, but I waited patiently and chatted with other runners as the line moved slowly forward. There was a live band playing, and the location was perfect for stretching out on the grass and enjoying a cool Saturday evening. I will do this race again, but will bring friends and plan on running a shorter distance, as I’ve discovered that evening running is not going to produce any PRs for me personally.
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