I am a convert.
I used to think the Rock’N Roll Marathon series was just the big Walmart of races.
No more. I get it. They are the standard of runner friendly races.
I got the chance due to good friends to run Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in Portland. (Thank you Steve and Gregg) I went into this race with some trepidation as I ran a half two weeks before. But I was excited to finally see why those who really love the event series see in it.
The weekend in Portland started at the expo. The expo takes place at the Oregon Convention Center and the one thing I really like it the flow of the expo. You pick up your number, walk through and pick up your shirt and then continue through the shopping areas. It flowed and you never had to wait for anything.
I visited with my friends at Nunn and picked up a new bottle for my ever growing collection of bottles and enjoyed chatting with a lot of vendors.
The shirt was a topic of a lot of conversation. Some loved the design, some didn’t quite get it. It was a dark blue Brooks shirt with the saw cutting (like you would see at The Timbers game) runners and trees. I get it, and I get its relationship to Portland, though it didn’t really have a relationship to Rock N’ Roll or any music whatsoever
I figured going into race morning it was going to be chaos, but it was not really. I got to the race about an hour before the start and had zero line for my bag check and I found my corral quite quickly. Because I was back in 15, and that was one of the biggest openings for people to get to the start at times it got really crowded around me. The race itself was delayed due to mass transit (Okay, is there a race that is not delayed in downtown Portland thanks to Tri-Met?) But they kept people entertained and honestly it was a great time to take selfies.
The course is beautiful but the first part is pretty challenging. You head through downtown and across the Broadway bridge and into the Irvington area, the tricky part of this course is right after the 3 mile mark when you start climbing, according to the Runstastic you literally climb upwards 100 feet in elevation in a little less then a mile.
I really wish I would of gotten more photos of the course, as it is really an amazing course and one of the few races that run the east side. Its challenging and scenic all at the same time as you are going into one of the older parts of Portland.
The course is also well supported, I have never seen water stations so well manned and so spirited other then maybe OKC. You had gel at 7.8 which was a perfect point to have one.
The course has a great downhill stretch going down the crazy Hawthorne district, I really felt like I was hitting my stride on those downhills. And it makes for a great view of Portland.
The finish took you across the Hawthorne Bridge with a quick around the block before you finish. Now I have to admit,the finish line is awesome. They had laid out the infamous PDX Airport Carpet to greet you. Then you collected your finisher medal and flowed through the finishers area which had plenty of post race goodies.
And then so you didn’t have to cause a bottle neck at the finisher line you had the option to stop by the information booth which had another swatch of the PDX carpet to get photos.
The post race expo area had no log jams, and you got your beer and a chance to enjoy the post race concert. Though this is the one thing I wish they would change, with the late start, those of us who are towards the back of the pack did not get to partake in the headliner. But I love Hit Machine and have seen them several times at races, so I was happy.
The race itself was not my best or my worst. To me it was a measuring stick as to where I was for my future goals. I for one enjoyed how into the race everyone was and how runner friendly the entire event is. I get it, and I will be back to RnR next year.