Latest reviews by Elizabeth Bain

(2019)
"2019 was an anomaly due to the "rally" and loss of a sponsor"
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The single star is because the race swag is supposed to be a Portland Thorns (pro soccer) scarf. But this year the Thorns pulled out of the race just days before it took place, and yanked the scarves, too. It would have been quite easy to have them for pickup AFTER the race, and any number of local running stores would happily have helped.

Kudos to race management for doing some crazy last-minute rejiggering to hold the event, after the white supremacists announced they were going to "rally" downtown.

Details: https://www.trainwithbain.com/every-rose-has-its-thorn-but-not-roses-on-the-river/

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(2019)
"Sweet local race with a fun atmosphere"
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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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(2019)
"Low-key, quality race"
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I registered for this race at the last minute to join a friend. I snagged one of the last half marathon spots!

I drove in from Portland on the morning of the race. Street parking was plentiful and easy to find, and I snagged a space about two blocks from the starting point. It took maybe 5 minutes to get my number and shirt, and I walked the shirt back to my car. The tech shirts have the race logo on them and are a soft material. I find the women's cut very flattering.

The race itself offers a 30-minute early start for those walking the half marathon. This is a nice touch, as then those who choose to walk don't end up finishing hours behind the runners. I chose to start with the walkers, and a group of about 20 started with me.

The course is an out-and-back "loop," which I learned has been adjusted from past race years due to local construction (and is also the reason why the 2019 course was not USATF certified). Essentially the course starts from the Buou brewery and heads (west?) along a few streets, the river walk (wooden boardwalk), and then park path, over to a small park before the bridge. The course turned around at the park, returning to the streets a block in front of Buoy, and then down the park walk (wooden boardwalk) in the other direction. At the end of the boardwalk, the course continued past the maritime museum, through a small park, past the piers with sea lions barking and sunning themselves, through a residential area, over some raised-wooden train bridges (with appropriate pedestrian lanes--this wasn't dangerous at all), and through some other parks. It then looped back at a turnaround and traced the same path back to Buoy. The course was largely flat, though there was one small hill in one of the parks, and one bigger hill at the very end of the course, before returning back to the start.

The aid stations were fantastic. Really all of the volunteers were. Every intersection where you could potentially make a wrong turn had a volunteer to direct you where to go. Every crossing of a road had a volunteer to stop traffic for runners. Each aid station had water, electrolytes, and some type of snack (raisins, for example).

The finish chute was well-staffed and runners were announced as they crossed. The medals for this race are pressed glass, which is unusual (I don't own any other race medal like this) and pretty. At the end of the race there is free food and beer for the runners, with the option to pre-purchase tickets for non-runners. There was no beer alternative (Buoy doesn't make cider or kombucha), and the line for the food (a good-looking seafood boil, including potatoes and half corn on the cobs) was long, so I opted for brunch at another local watering hole. The post-race party was a decent size, not overwhelming, and looked to be a good time.

Overall, I enjoyed the race and would do it again. I wasn't a huge fan of running over the wooden bridges--even though trains go over them so I am certain they are safe--because seeing the water between the slats was not for me, so I'd probably opt for the 10k next time.

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(2018)
"Low-key 5k Turkey Trot--FUN!!"
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This is a very low-key turkey trot. It's not chip-timed, there are no medals. That said, the race was $40 at last-minute prices, most of the funds go to charity, and it was beautifully organized.

I'm in town for Thanksgiving, staying in Des Plaines. My sole criterion for picking a race was proximity, and it worked in my favor. I registered online--the race used Eventbrite this year for tickets--and was not in town for early packet pickup.

On race day, I talked Dad and one of my brothers into joining me. We used google maps to get close, and then followed others to find parking. Arriving after 9, there was still plenty of time to pick up my packet (thank you to all the locals who picked theirs up early!), and for my Dad and brother to register.

The shirts are not fancy, with the race logo on the upper chest, and the three supported charities on the sleeve, with all the sponsors on the back. Some people hate shirts with sponsor logos, but I love this one because (1) this is a charity event, and (2) the number of supporting businesses demonstrates how involved the community is in this race. (I ran past some of them on the course!). Also, I love the heavy-weight long-sleeve cotton Gildan shirts and wear the few I own on a regular basis. I'm calling this a win, even though it isn't fancy.

Before the Turkey Trot proper there are several kids' races. The kids get a shirt and a medallion on a ribbon (it looked like it was plastic or rubber, I didn't get a close look). The announcers did it up for those races just like they did for the main race. After the kids' races, the announcer introduced a representative from each of the three charities that the race supports: Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, Ignite the Spirit, and SALUTE, Inc. All three are charities that help the police, firefighters, first responders, and military. There was a moment of silence for the three Chicago police officers lost in the line of duty (still fresh in most minds due to the very recent hospital shootings). The announcers also mentioned some groups walking/running in memory of individuals connected with the event.

About 7,000 runners and walkers did a 5k down part of the main road (something or another highway at that point), and through the neighborhoods of Edison Park. The race is dog and stroller and kid friendly, so starting in the back ensures you will bob and weave--if you are a fast runner, you need to start in the front. The neighborhoods had plenty of people out cheering, some with fires and brunch, as well as people watching from inside their houses. There were a lot of turkey inflatables.

The course had no aid stations, which was fine by me. (It's cold. I warmed up running, but wasn't hitting it hard anyway.) The finish line had bottled water and a tent with a variety of snacks (fruit, bagels, pastries, juice pouches for kids). Fleet Feet, one of the sponsors, had a small tent with a little display, but there was no merch or sales pitch. Nearby was a table to exchange shirts (in case you needed a different size) or buy extras.

Parking was plentiful in the neighborhoods, and we had zero wait to get in or out of the race area. The race started on time, had great announcers, live musicians and vocalist for the national anthem, and a fun family atmosphere. This is NOT a big to-do fancy race that people would travel just to attend--and that's part of why I loved it. I felt like I was just jumping in on the local tradition (22nd year!). Overall, I would absolutely do this race again.

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(2018)
"Community support means great perks"
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The Ladybug Run for CDH awareness is a fundraiser, a moment of remembrance for those kids who died from CDH (50% of children do not survive), a celebration for the CDH kids who do survive, a networking social for CDH families, a fun run, and a great way to spend a day.

Pretty much everything I said about last year applies to this year.

This was my second year running the Ladybug Run. I missed the early packet pickup due to work, and picked up my shirt and bag the day of the race. Volunteers kept the line moving quickly, and I had plenty of time to put my bag (a really nice drawstring from Athleta) and coupons in my car (day passes to Club Sport, gift card for Chick-fil-A), with my tee. This year's tee has a cute ladybug design on the front, with sponsors and essential facts about CDH on the back. Day-of registration was also available, subject to the race limit (which I assume has to do with the permit to use the park).

Pre-race, there was a program to remember those kids who lost their fight with CDH, and to celebrate those who lived. There was a ladybug release (yay, natural pest control!) and a ladybug costume contest.

The 5k and 10k have a combined start, with a separate start and course for the kids' race. There are no formal corrals, but the crowd is released in (unmarked) groups. People are pretty good about sorting themselves out. The 5k is one loop, and is stroller-friendly though there is a significant hill (it's paved). The 10k is the 5k plus another, different loop. It runs past the dog park, so naturally I had to stop and pet some dogs, and watch some of them playing.

We had gorgeous weather once again for the after-party. Sponsorships literally pay for everything, so 100% of your entry fee goes to CDH awareness. The after party featured live music, local beer and cider (2 pints each, but there was plenty for another round if you were so inclined), and a huge spread of food: grilled cheese, tomato soup, bananas, bagels, peanut butter, watermelon, coffee, hot cocoa, water, oranges, and more.

While there is beer and cider, this is a 100% family-friendly event. Plenty of kids were on the 5k route. Serious runners had a place up front (ribbons for age group awards). Medals for everyone.

I look forward to the 2019 event.

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