Monday, July 25, 2016
Sunset on the Springwater Half Marathon
Saturday, July 23, 2016
On Saturday, July 23, 2016 I race walked the Sunset on the Springwater Half Marathon in Portland, Oregon. The event turned out to be poorly organized and not much fun to do. Packet pick-up was on Friday from 11 AM to 5 PM at a running store. The two employees that were taking care of the nearly 700 participants for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K said the volunteers did not show up and the tee shirts were not sorted into sizes and sexes. They also said that there would not be much parking in the Riverfront Park where the race was to be held. Since the race was to start at 5:15 PM on Saturday and there was an additional packet pick-up at 4 PM, I decided I better arrive at 3:30 PM. When I pulled into the park’s parking lot, the car in front of me took the last parking spot. I looked for parking on the street and found 4 places about 2 blocks away and quickly parked in one of them. I do not know where everyone else parked. I found a nice table overlooking the river to wait for the start. At 5 PM I went to the start/finish line. At 5:05 the announcer said the start would be delayed until 5:30 because the course was not marked. On the web site the course was stated to be an out and back course on a paved bike path and almost completely flat. Water stations were to be located about 2 miles apart with water and Gatorade. At 5:30 the race started with a short climb up to a railroad track that had a loose gravel path next to it. After ½ mile the field turned up a street for about ½ mile. There were several cross streets of which some had volunteers controlling traffic and some did not. The first water station near mile 1 had 2 tables with cups of water. There were 3 women volunteers sitting at the tables looking at their phones. The field turned right and went a block and turned left onto a bike path. At this moment I realized that there was nothing to mark the turns and there also were no volunteers telling the participants where the turns occurred. I followed the bike path for about three miles and there were five or six streets that had to be crossed and nobody controlling the traffic and many cars. Near mile 4 was the second water station with two women handing out water near an intersection that had a traffic light. By this time the field was only the 320 half marathoners and was spread out. I could only see one woman in front of me and she crossed the intersection and continued on the bike path. After about 100 yards we could see way ahead and there was nobody there. We must have made a wrong turn somewhere. We went back to the intersection and saw three people waiting at the traffic light to cross the street and start up an extremely steep hill that was about ¼ mile long. When we reached the top, a volunteer told us to cross the street making a right turn and I saw the 4 mile marker sign. A short time later another volunteer told us to cross the street and make another right turn down a steep hill. At the bottom of the hill was a bike path to the left. There were four of us and we decided that the course probably went onto the bike path. Again there were cross streets with no traffic control. The marker for mile 5 appeared as did the beginning of a homeless encampment lasting until mile 6. I had seen on the news that there was a homeless encampment of about 600 tents etc. along a bike path in Portland and that many incidents had occurred there.. I did not realize that I would have to go through this encampment during the half marathon. Just after mile 6 was the third water station which had water in cups on the tables and three woman sitting. There was also some Gatorade. The course proceeded on some roads and surprisingly there were cones to mark the turns and 2 turns had volunteers directing runners. Cross streets had no traffic control and the turnaround had a small sign and no volunteer. At least I knew my way back and what to expect. After returning through the homeless encampment, I reached mile 8 and decided I was getting dehydrated. I was tired of all the stopping and starting to avoid traffic and cross streets. I decided to slow down and take it easy and just finish the course. I crossed the finish line with a time that was 17 minutes slower than my previous three races. I headed to the finish area and the promised Bar-B-que that was supposed to be a highlight. What a highlight – one beer (I do not drink), one hot dog, and water from a hose. There was nothing else. Not even a soda. I went to the results tent to check my results. They had one printout from earlier that did not have anyone listed in the 70-74 age group. I asked if there was some way to find my results and was told that they were not giving out age group awards, only overall. I told the person that the race website stated that ribbons were going to be awarded as age group awards. She said “Is that what the envelope full off ribbons is for?”. None had been given out. A race official said she would take me to the timing truck to find my results. It turned out that I was first out of three and they gave me a first place ribbon. I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND THIS EVENT TO ANYONE!
Me and Gerda before and after the event