Sunset on the Springwater

Sunset on the Springwater

Sunset on the Springwater

( 4 reviews )
75% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Portland,
    United States
  • August
  • 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon
  • Road Race

Elizabeth Bain

California, United States
80 61
"Sweet local race with a fun atmosphere"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Elizabeth Bain's thoughts:

This race is managed by Terrapin Events, and timed by Huber Timing. At 7 p.m. (after most people have finished) there is a River Lantern Lighting that is a separate event. (Participants pre-paid for lanterns; everyone could watch for free.)

The event start point is the Sellwood Waterfront Park, which is near Oaks Park (a small, locally owned, historic amusement park with picnic facilities). This year the races took place the same day as an Oktoberfest event at Oaks Park, so both traffic and parking were dicey. While public transit is available +/- a 10+ minute walk, it would have taken over an hour from my apartment; I opted to Lyft, and was there in 20 minutes.

Packet pickup took zero time. I arrived at 3:00 (packet pickup opened at 2:30, event start was 3:45), walked up, and got my bib with zero waiting. A Friday packet-pickup was available at the local Road Runner Sports, but I had a prior appointment; I'm assuming most people picked up their stuff early. After I got my bib and shirt (a super soft next level shirt) I went to clothing check, as I didn't plan to run wearing an extra shirt. Clothing check uses reusable cloth bags. You pack your bag, and they put a sticker on the bag with a matched sticker on the back of your bib.

The race and lantern lighting shared the park, with the various race tents, Franz grilled cheese truck, vending (the MLM CBD Now is at every local event, also the Full Moon organics delivery, a jerky company whose name escapes me, and a "festival stuff" booth with light-up stuff and things like popcorn and cotton candy), and live music stage arranged in a circle around it. It was very chill to hang out before the events started: lots of families, local park users, dogs, etc.

The Kids' Race was the first event. The race course consisted of two loops around the main park area, led by a race pacer who was part rubber-band and part greyhound. The kids ranged from actually running to sort of prancing-dancing around the course; parents were invited to run with their children. It was actually pretty fun to cheer for the kids as they came around the loop; I wondered what they thought of the weirdo stranger cheering and clapping for them. Every kids' race bib was #1, and all finishers got a medal. I love events like this that encourage kids to be active, and it was fun to watch kids run with their parents.

The adult-races consisted of a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. The 10k and half had a common start, with the 5k starting 15 or 20 minutes later (I don't remember which). The vast majority of all of the three race courses was on the Springwater Corridor trail system. The half continued through some neighborhood areas connecting the Springwater; the 10k turaround was on the Springwater; and the 5k turnaround was also on the Springwater. The Springwater Corridor is a long stretch of blacktop/asphalt-top that is a multi-use path popular among runners, walkers, dog-walkers, and cyclists.

From the Portland Parks & Rec website:

The Springwater Corridor is the major southeast segment of the 40-Mile Loop which was inspired by the 1903 Olmsted plan of a parkway and boulevard loop to connect park sites. The eventual developed trail will be over 21 miles long. For the most part, the trail is well separated from the public road. The route is a scenic one, encompassing wetlands, buttes, agricultural fields and pastures, residential and industrial neighborhoods. Close to Johnson Creek, one of the last free-flowing streams in Portland's urban area, the trail criss-crosses the stream on its course to the Willamette River. The Corridor connects several parks and open spaces including Tideman Johnson Nature Park, Beggars-tick Wildlife Refuge, the I-205 Bike Path, Leach Botanical Garden, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Gresham's Main City Park.

The Springwater Corridor is a multi-use trail. The paved surface is generally 10-12 feet wide with soft shoulders. The hard surface trail is designed to accommodate walkers, joggers, hikers, bicycles, wheelchairs, and strollers. Equestrian use is more common east of I-205 where a separate soft surface path meanders away from the main trail where topography allows.

(end of quote from the website)

Basically, it's a runner's dream, though there is one section that is currently closed for a bridge replacement, and (like the rest of Portland) there are sections that include a homeless population, such as under the I-205 overpass. (No one said boo to me, and I felt safe even as the second-to-last person to finish.) While the Springwater is fairly flat, the race course had two significant hills into/out of residential areas. (You can think of these as connector-bits between stretches of the Springwater.) One of the hills was sufficiently steep that I could not, personally, have run down it even if I wanted to.

When the race started, I was over-clothed in a sports bra, singlet, and tights. It was hot and humid! I wished I had worn shorts or 3/4 tights instead (to be fair, it was chilly in my apartment and I thought it would be colder!). It was oppressively hot/humid for my body, I was sweating like a fiend despite sipping from the bottle in my vest, and I didn't run much past the first six miles. (Oh, and I was testing new shoes.) By the time I finished (at a MUCH slower than planned 3:40) I was cold and wished I had a long-sleeve on; those who had arrived for the Lantern Lighting were wearing long pants and jackets. While waiting for my Lyft home, I was shivering.

Along the course, every road crossing had multiple race volunteers to guard the crossing. While runners did have to stop for traffic on the few roads that crossed major surface streets, race volunteers and bike medic volunteers stopped traffic for the other streets. (This was true even during my last mile or so back to start, through Sellwood, when the bike medics stopped cross-traffic for me at every street,) Each intersection had at least one volunteer, and most had three.

Aid stations were well-stocked, and every one of them had both water and lemon-lime Gatorade even as the slow-poke brigade came through. (That's me, the few people behind me, the group of 3-4 I leap-frogged all during the course, and the friendly runner in the denim shorts.) I was carrying Tailwind, but had water at almost every station (and still emptied my bottle and refilled it with water).

When I arrived at the finish line--starting to not feel overheated, but too blistered to run--it still had a full complement of volunteers, from the "turn here" person, to the announcer (who announced my finish), to the volunteer handing out medals on the far side of the finish line. The entire finish line, sound system, etc. were all still intact when I finished. Reminder, I crossed at 3:40, which is well outside the finish time guidelines.

After I picked up my shirt from bag check and got a cider (in lieu of beer), I walked over to the Franz grilled cheese truck, One of my favorite parts of the local races, usually Franz slices grilled cheese sandwiches into quarters and hands out grilled cheese "bites." They handed me a whole sandwich! That was much appreciated, since the runner food tent only had some samples left (the vitamins that are disguised as candy bars).

I walked down to the end of the park, overlooking the beach, to see the lantern launch. Volunteers in kayaks corralled the lanterns on the water (I assume the event had to ensure no debris was left behind), and it was really beautiful to watch. On my walk back to the parking lot to order a Lyft, I attempted to pick up a second cider, but they had run out. (Bummer, since I had pre-paid for a second.)

The medal this year has the wide satin ribbon, and the medal itself is a bottle opener shaped like Oregon, with a photo-like graphic of the Springwater across it. The shirt is a next level soft navy-blue shirt with the race logo and name on the front (and without a bunch of ads on the back--ensuring I will wear it again as it is cute and cozy).

Overall, I think this was a chill hometown kind of race. Pre-race communication outlined and mapped all three of the courses, and effectively stated the parking and traffic issues. If I were travelling to Oregon to do my One Oregon Race Ever, I would probably choose another race, solely because it's not A Big Event Race. I doubt there were one thousand runners, As a local, I loved this run through a part of town I rarely see. With the Lantern Lighting to follow, I felt fine even when my left foot developed a noticeable blister that meant I wouldn't be able to run more; I felt safe at every crossing, and was surprised to have the bike medics and so many finish line personnel still there.

The few downsides were a narrow stretch of road (where the runners did not have even half a lane to run) connecting the sections before and after the bridge construction; food had run out by the time I finished (yet I anticipated this, since I knew I was slow, and Franz handed me a whole grilled cheese so I basically didn't care), and the Two Towns booth ran out of cider before I was ready for my second. Overall, a solid race.

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