This past weekend I completed Half Marathon number 8 in my life as well as 50 States Half number 3 at the Shamrock Half in Portland. A quick backstory to this race: I am an ambassador for the Love Run Philadelphia Half and won their grand prize of an all expenses paid trip to this run. So needless to say it was a very exciting weekend for sure!
It was my first time in Portland so the experience was all very new for me. And since I won this race as a prize I was able to stay at the official race hotel, just a block away from the starting line. (I need to do this more often, I loved that short walk).
The race weekend was amazing. It seemed like everyone in the town was aware of the race. More times than not when I told people I was from Philadelphia they assumed I was there for the race. So there was a buzz in the city all weekend long.
Since I got in Friday night I went to the race expo first thing. Overall it was a really fun expo. When I run in multiple states I realize more and more how I can take races for granted. Philadelphia is a large city and that reflects it in the race. However going to smaller cities has an impact on the race (smaller expo sizes, lack of crowd support, etc.). However that was not the case here. The expo was just as large as any expo I have experienced locally. With plenty of vendors giving away fun items it was easy to get lost in the expo for quite some time. And if you didn’t have much time you could also be in and out with your bib very quickly. You truly could spend as much time at the expo as you needed.
Race morning was also very exciting. The race was set up along the waterfront in what felt like a mile stretch of land. Since it was so long there were tons of companies set up on the grass that ran parallel to the course. I saw McDonalds giving out free coffee and hash browns, Clif Bar giving away free samples (as well as having an open fire pit….it was cold!) and many other vendors. This was new to me. Most races in Philly will have a few vendors set up, but this felt more like a county fair than a race morning. I was very impressed.
There were 6 races going off that morning; the kids run, 4 mile walk, 5K, 8K, 15K and Half. So needless to say tons of people out there. However they staggered them to start about a half hour apart from each other so it never got too packed at the starting area. My fiancé ran the 5K that started at 8:00 so I went to the starting area with her. With my race not starting until 9:20 I had some time to wait. However since there was so much going on the hour and 20 minutes did not take long.
Since I won entry to the half as a prize for promoting a local Philly race, I was able to meet the race director and PR Manager beforehand. They even allowed me to be interviewed before my race started by the local news to talk about my story on how/ why I traveled over 2,400 miles to run. It was truly a first for me as far as running goes.
9:20 hit and I was off. Overall I enjoyed the course. Since I had never run Portland before this was all very new to me. I don’t know about regular Portland runners, but the elevation for this Philly runner was no joke. I had never experience such a steady incline for that length of time before. It felt like 3 to 4 miles in the middle of the race was a straight incline. Philly has hills that are much steeper, but they are for a short period of time and as soon as you start the hill you can usually see the end right away. Not so much here, these hills were long and they were steady. Luckily there were some downhills as well to make up for that.
As I noted earlier, when I run in other cities I tend to notice crowd sizes aren’t as large as what I am used to in Philly. However that was not the case here. Maybe it was because there were 5 other races going on, but I felt like there were a good amount of spectators on the course. As well as ample of enough water stops. Overall the race did a great job with logistics of managing 6 races at once.
There was one area that I would hope the race could change in the future. There was a 4 mile walk that started an hour after the half marathon. And it felt like the last 0.3 mile of the Half merged with the walkers course. As a result I had to bob and weave in and out of families walking the finish of their course for all that time. Having just ran almost 13 miles at that point, it made for an inconvenience. The walkers were scattered all throughout the course, most of them with children so it made running more of a game of frogger than anything else. And also took away from that special feeling of seeing a finish line and pushing hard towards it.
Overall I very much enjoyed this race. The sites were absolutely beautiful and the organizers did a great job planning all logistics. Yes I would ask them to change the 4 mile walk conflict I had, however that is small portion of what was overall an amazing time. I would highly recommend this race.
Have you run this race before? Or interested in running it? Check it out on BibRave.