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Two Chilly Run/Walks Kick off March

Polar Plunge
Polar Plunge
Wendy Bumgardner

Fort Vancouver Run

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March roared in like a lion with cold temperatures and rain in the Portland, Oregon area. I spent Saturday morning volunteering for the Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics. It was rescheduled from our snowy weekend, but the temperatures were little better. A record 3640 plunged into the Columbia River and raised over $464,000 for Special Olympics. A couple hundred also ran or walked the 5K Fun Run from near the airport to the Plunge site. My job was to trail them and report everyone was off the route. It was cool enough walking west with a tailwind, but my gang of three decided we didn't want to walk back 5K to parking in a headwind with semi-sold rain. We waited for the shuttle bus and got to see a wave of plungers go into the frigid Columbia River.

On Sunday, March 2, I walked in the annual Fred Meyer Fort Vancouver Run. Energy Events said that walkers were welcome.

We lined up for the 7:45 am start and headed off into the very cold drizzle. I was pleased enough with my gear for the first four miles. There were very few 15K walkers and I was pretty much alone after the first couple of miles. I know the course from many years of organizing walks in Vancouver and so I enjoyed the route which first headed east, then crossed Hwy 14 to enjoy the riverfront paths along the Columbia. Then it crosses back over the Land Bridge to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and back to Fred Meyer Grand Central.

By the tail end of the race, where I was, the first water/medical stop was unstaffed and there was no porta-john. The stop near the Water Resources Center had a single porta-john, which I was happy to see. The 10K route also joined us there and so there were runners coming through. Right at the Land Bridge turn there was another aid station (Mile 6) with a single porta-john. The mileage markers were pretty confusing and one 10K run/walker who passed me commented on it. I was wondering where the 15K would be putting in an extra mile separate from the 10K course.

However, I didn't get to do that mile as the route sweepers had removed the 15K signage after we crossed to the Fort. I didn't have a print-out or download of the map, so I just followed the 6K/10K markings back. By that point I had a stream of cold rain draining down my rain pants into one shoe and that foot was getting quite cold. I finished with 8.57 miles according to my Polar Beat GPS app, and that was good enough for a cold and rainy day.

When I finished, there was no one handing out medals at the finish line and I wondered whether there was indeed a medal for the 15K. I asked at the registration tent and a helpful gal said yes. I went back to the finish and got a medal. It is very nifty -- it's a can opener! I'm glad I asked. I enjoyed a Jamba Juice and some snacks at the finish line.

My rain gear was dripping wet, although I was fairly dry underneath. But I was wet enough to just want to get dry and warm. I returned to my car to get into a dry coat and shed the rainpants.

Overall, I would do the Fort Vancouver Run 15K again. But until they get more walkers, you risk having happen what happened to me. In all fairness, I was wearing my race number under my jacket, so the sweep van might not have realized I was a racer and not just a random fitness walker. I put in enough mileage to and from my car parked a couple of blocks away to make up the full distance for the day. I applaud them for putting on an early-season event to help us get ready for the half marathons and marathons to come.