Now, this is going to be a BIG statement, but this race is HANDS DOWN my favorite Half Marathon to date. It was spectacular and fun and challenging and different and flat out amazing.
My running solemate Sarah and I decided to team up with her sister and friends for a weekend of racing, wine and girl time. It was easy to sign up for this destination as I had heard it was a gorgeous race and a fantastic part of Oregon, plus I knew it was going to happen in the middle of the Arizona summer which made it even easier to book. I pulled into Oregon having left my 120 degrees and arriving in a brisk 65. UH...........
.....but oh man was it heaven! Green, lush, breezy and the sun was shining to warm up my chilly parts. I connected with Sarah and we took the hour drive into Newberg and the Dundee Hills area. Having never been to Oregon I was simply blown away at its beauty and ruggedness. What a fun state.
We got into Dundee and met up with the rest of our crew.
After a check in at our hotel and an easy 2 mile shake out run, we showered and decided we needed to start wine tasting!
The Dundee Hills area is like a small little town that is just wall to wall wineries. We could walk everywhere which was so much fun and so relaxing. To make the whole event even better is the fact that wineries filled our goodie bags with coupons for free tastings. I think the entire weekend we only paid for 1 glass of wine. It was a blast!
Argyle was our first stop and the Chardonnay's, Pinot Noir's and Sparkling Rose's were the hit for sure. We sipped and chatted and simply enjoyed our evening. We cooked dinner at the house the other girls were staying in and had a simply great pre race evening. We were all early birds and even though Jasmine, Sarah and I were the only runners, the other two had wee little ones so an early bedtime was a must!
Race morning was a crisp 58 degrees or so and very relaxed. We got to the house, collected our running compadre and walked to the start line.
Okay....the race. I don't think that I can actually truly paint the picture of how tough this race was. It wasn't so much of a race but a trek through the hills of Dundee. Nothing was flat....nothing. You were either going up....WAY UP or you were going down. We probably climbed 10-25% gradients and descended the same for the ENTIRE 13.1 miles. It was so challenging it was laughable, and we seriously all had the best time giggling about the adventure we were on. Nothing was flat. I mean the start line was at the bottom of a huge mile long hill. It was so steep that if you looked straight ahead you saw pavement, not the horizon. So the gun went off and it became abundantly clear that no one in our group was going to "run" this entire course. Some of the climbs were so steep and muddy that you nearly had to brace yourself on your legs to "crawl" up it. It was incredibly fun and I am proud to say that I "run-shuffled" every hill. I stopped at the top to wait for my buddies and get the heartrate out of the rafters, but I didn't walk any of the hills. ONE AMAZING FEAT....Lordy.
The race is only open to about 1200 participants because the private wineries literally open their properties for us to traipse up and down the rows of grapes. The experience was simply incredible. I loved every second and doing it with these ladies was simply too much fun.
While we were ready to see the finish line, the consensus amongst us was truly....LETS SIGN UP FOR THAT AGAIN! We came across the finish line feeling like a million bucks. That was something you don't do every day!
The real reason we signed up for this race was what came after. Not only did we get a sweet medal, but a lovely wine glass. Then 25 of the closest wineries came for an unlimited wine tasting. 1 glass.....limitless possibilities. AMAZING! We all hung out for a good hour just sipping and chatting and giggling about the race. What a great time (in case you can't see it on my face)
The rest of our race day was filled with more free wine tastings and beautiful conversation. It was relaxing and perfect. Having a wine belly helped too. We spent a good couple of hours at the Four Grace's Winery. We sat outside under the shade on a picnic table and just sat in the moment. So refreshing.
We all got to bed early to rest our tired muscles. The following morning was spent going for a walk and heading out to breakfast together. Our flights weren't until later in the afternoon so we drove back into Portland and walked along the waterfront. What a fun and eclectic city.
Our trip was perfect and I am so eternally grateful for this woman's friendship, sisterhood and running feet that have gone on many adventures together. I CANNOT wait for the Tucson Marathon in December with this chick!