Volcano Half Marathon

If you’ve been following along, you know my only New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to run every weekend for the year with two gal pals. We’ve been about 90% successful which isn’t too bad when you factor in work trips, sickness, injury, and vacations. At one point we decided to culminate our running with a half marathon. There are plenty to pick from in the greater Portland area – so it just all depends on what you’re looking for: do you like loops, out and backs or point-to-points? Urban, rural or trail? Is cost a factor or maybe the schwag you get? You get my point: we have a lot of choices out here.

My friend picked an inaugural run called the Volcano Half, produced by a small company, Run with Paula. Other events produced by Run with Paula include Bay to Brews and Bridge of the Goddess. The Volcano Half is a point-to-point with a shuttle to the start, finishing at Salem-Keizer minor league baseball Volcanos Stadium.

The Quick and Dirty:
Registration process: easy, online
Cost: A tad high for what it is ($79 earlybird but with fees, $85)
Communication regarding event: Sufficient but lacked clarity, was confusion around bus times to start of course
Course: If you like running long straights thru farmland, this is your winner. Course is supported with water, but could have used more porta-potties along the way and definitely more at the start. They did have a bag check at start of race. If sunny, be prepared for exposure – minimal shade along course. Not hilly. Disappointing ending in stadium parking lot.
Race “Goodie Bag: Lackluster – paper race promotions, some Emergn-C, a fruit leather, Clif Bar and your event shirt
Race Shirt: Nice. I am 5’6″ and a medium fits nicely
After-Race Event: Lackluster, 3-man band, stadium hamburgers (at 10am) and no complimentary cup of beer (even with Rogue being a sponsor). Didn’t stay long.
Would I do this race again? No

There seemed to be a lot of stress about getting there early (from the race email correspondence). I understand that they were concerned about the last shuttle bus being overloaded, but the first bus dropped folks off at 7am – leaving runners an hour to mill about in 40 degree weather. We opted for the 2nd to last bus, staying warm in the car before heading up – there was plenty of space.

The course starts at Willamette Mission State Park, though the course doesn’t linger here long (which is too bad as it was beautiful with wildflowers). The course did a short out and back in the park before exiting out onto backcountry roads. From here you spend a majority of the course passing through farmland on the side of the road. It warmed up quickly as the sun burned off the morning dew which meant exposure to sun and wind. The course is one straight away after another (where you can see half a mile down the road) and they aren’t super fun for me personally – they leave nothing to the imagination and just feel like effort to get to the next bend. There was really only one discernible hill leading up to mile 4, but otherwise the course was rather flat until about mile 11 when it gradually inclines to the finish. The ending of the course was disappointing – I thought we’d be able to finished by running into the stadium as some other races, but this course fell just short, concluding in the parking lot.

Volunteer water stations were plentiful, though there was a lack of porta-potties along the course. I saw only one station with Shot Blocks, so I wouldn’t expect anything besides water. There was a band, and a complimentary hamburger for grub – but a stadium hamburger at 10am does not sound appealing. What did sound appealing was a Rogue beer (they were a sponsor, so one would assume…) but they were for purchase (*cash only: runners with cash on hand? Me thinks not). Why was Rogue a sponsor of if not for supplying a satisfying carb-laden beverage after running 13.1 miles? #Fail.

Overall, it was a 13.1 mile run but nothing else was spectacular about this race. There are so many fun interesting courses that I just don’t feel this one was worth the money spent. Inaugural runs are a favorite amongst professional runners: they tend to be less busy with less traffic, but for such a small race, there could have been a bit attention to ‘runner experience’ at the start and at the finish. That all said, I did finish!

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The prettiest photo of the race - at the start of the course
The prettiest photo of the race – at the start of the course
Only 250 runners registered for the Half, all cold and wanting to get going
Only 250 runners registered for the Half, all cold and wanting to get going
This sums up the ending
This sums up the ending

Thankfully even though there wasn’t any booze at the end, one award-winning boyfriend brought mimosas to celebrate our hard efforts.

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