The Hippie Chick Half and Quarter Marathon 2014 hosted a huge hoard of hippie chicks. The run/walk made a transition from being produced by Run With Paula to the new Better Series. There were some bobbles but overall it was a fun and funky event.
The racers received a short sleeved tech shirt and, instead of a medal, a finisher's charm on a necklace. The run/walk starts at the Hillsboro Ballpark. The starting line fest included donuts and bagels courtesy of Franz Bread, Ghirardelli chocolate bars, Luna bars, and Peet's Coffee. The stadium had plenty of restrooms in addition to a large bank of porta-johns at the starting line.
There were 1344 half marathon runners and walkers and 940 quarter marathon (6 mile) runners and walkers. The number of walkers on the course compared to runners was more than typical for a Portland-area half marathon. Many racers put on their flashiest racing gear, tie-dye, and psychedelic print running skirts. There is no music on the course other than at the start/finish, so bring your own tunes or just enjoy the sounds of birds and happy racer chatter.
The race proceeds west from the ballpark on roads familiar to those who run or walk the Helvetia Half Marathon, but racers stay south of Hwy. 26. The course is mostly flat with easy inclines. The views are of fields and farms after the first mile. Portions have two-way runner/walker traffic. Some runners complained that the slower folks did not keep to one side, making it difficult for them to navigate on the return.
A big race day bobble was the lack of porta-johns at the water stops on the first half of the half marathon course. I am going to guess that they were the victim of a supplier not providing them early enough, just as happened with the Heartbreaker Half Marathon in this same area in February. At the first porta-johns there was a long line-up of desperate women.
The web site map did not designate where water stops and porta-johns would be, which already was a cause for caution. But the organizers had assured me of good support, so I knew the lack was due to a race day problem and not a planning oversight.
There were water stops without porta-johns at miles 1, 3, and 5. Some racers used an auto parts store for restrooms near mile 4 out of need. We saw a truck go by with porta-johns on it and guessed the emergency call had been placed. By the time we reached mile 6, there were porta-johns and water stops in place every two miles.
I love walking through the countryside, and this is my old stomping grounds to boot. Fields of green wheat, alfalfa and red clover greeted the racers. The route was closed to all but local traffic, which was escorted by police for safety. It was pleasant to be able to spread across the country roads.
Slower half marathoners will have plenty of company at this event. My finish time was 3:45 and I always had other walkers nearby. However, I had to remind the volunteers at the entry to the Ballpark near the finish that they couldn't just wander off to play hackysack, they needed at least one of them to point racers into the ballpark!
I was greeted at the finish line with the tiny charm necklace, which is a big contrast to the giant medal for the Hop Hop Half. There seemed to be no race photographers on the course and you had to snap a selfie at the finish line.
The food at the finish line included pancakes, and I was pleased to see they still had them for us tail-enders, complete with warm syrup in a thermos carafe. The volunteer at the pancake table was very helpful. I also picked up the included Widmer beer. The Franz tent still had bagels but people were leaving with full bags in hand.
On Facebook, racers had complaints about the out-and-back racers not being separated, the lack of porta-johns, unstaffed water stops, and some dissatisfaction with the shirt and necklace. These are things the Better Series can work on for their upcoming race schedule. It worries me that at two races in the Hillsboro area the porta-johns have not shown up before racers were well out on the course. What will this mean for the Helvetia Half Marathon on June 7 from the same location?
Personally, I love the purple tech shirt. The charm necklace gives you options to add more charms or put the charm on other jewelry, which is a nice idea. But it won't have quite the same impact when I wear it to work on Monday!
The Hippie Chick race appeared to draw a lot of mom-daughter and sister-sister racers, which is a fun thing to do on Mother's Day Weekend. I look forward to it in coming years.
Hippie Chick Half and Quarter Marathon 2014