The second annual North County Wine Run Half Marathon and 9K was held September 21, 2013 outside of Battle Ground, Washington. Portland area walkers and runners had several events to choose from that weekend. I chose the Wine Run because it promised wine at the end and I had a good review from a runner friend from the first year.
The race is still small, with 227 in the half marathon and 221 in the 9K race. The start/finish was located at Schumacher Farm outside of Battle Ground in Clark County, Washington. It is all on rural two-lane asphalt roads, with only a brief glimpse of a suburb. This was my first race that was organized by Get Bold Events.
The time limit for the half marathon is a walker-friendly 4.5 hours. All registrants get a high quality tech t-shirt, and I love the women's v-neck. It's soft, light and the design is nice. The medal is given to all finishers and is shaped like a wine bottle, on a beautiful neck ribbon. They had nice packet pick-up options -- at Foot Traffic NE in Portland, or in Battle Ground or at the start before the gun time.
The start was at the fairly late hour of 10 am, which I fancy was more-the-better if you were going to have the included pasta lunch and wine or beer tastings at the end.
There was no problem in parking in the large field right next to the start. They didn't have a gear drop, but your car was just a few steps away. With the small crowd, the 12 porta-johns provided were adequate. They had a nice little start/finish line expo with Sweet Spot Skirts and other vendors.
We were asked to line up on the honor system with faster folks in front and slower in back. I talked a little with the other back-of-the-packers, most of whom were returning from the first year. They reassured me that there would still be wine at the finish, although the food would likely be slim pickings. All true.
We headed out at 10 am sharp onto the rural roads. The route has some hills, and some in the first four miles are steep enough that most people would walk them. But after that challenge, there is some good downhill and only moderate hills. This wasn't like the mountain climbs seen in the Dundee Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon. There is also plenty of shade. On a sunny day there may some sunny stretches, but in general you will be back into shade soon enough.
You see plenty of pasture with some horses and cows, and lots of forest. It is a nice escape from the city, much like the Helvetia Half Marathon (only less hilly than that one!) Only 20 of the 2013 finishers took more than three hours to finish, so the herd of runners was soon out of sight.
The aid stations every two miles were all fully staffed and stocked with water and gatorade and a porta-john. Every turn was staffed with a volunteer, and often with a police car, to ensure we didn't get lost.
My biggest quibble with the event was that the racers were kept on the right side of the road, but the road was open to all vehicle traffic. There were no shoulders on the roads. In general, the only option was to walk on the fog line or in the travel lane.
On a two-lane country road, the locals often drive very fast, even with blind corners and blind hills. I found it distressing to be walking with my back to traffic, especially when there were only a handful of us at the back of the pack. Race officials and police patrolled and often trailed the final racer. But having texting drivers out going fast on a two-lane is an accident waiting to happen.
If we had been on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, I would have less of a quibble. I know that it would be difficult for a small event to pay to close off a traffic lane just for the racers. Perhaps as they grow they will be able to consider this option.
The finish line was friendly, with beauty queens handing out the medals. As expected, only salad and rolls were left of the eats for those of us finishing in over three hours. But the wine tent was still pouring and I enjoyed trying four Clark County wineries. These were Moulton Falls, Gouger, Olequa and Heisen House.
Overall, I enjoyed the event and found it pretty walker-friendly for a small event. They have plenty of room to grow into for the future.