I’ve been procrastinating on this race report because the Umpqua Strong 5K was NOT a race. This was a community event put together to honor and remember the victims of 2015’s school shooting at Umpqua Community College. I have my rule of no local races because I don’t want to spend money to run where I run all of the time for free. For this I did make an exception …. To make a long story short, Shawn’s friend was going to be doing the 9K carrying 230 pounds, the weight of Treven, one of the victims. *There was a 5K and a 9K, I did the 5K since the 9 went off path and I had to manage a stroller. Shawn was going to be in full military uniform helping him out. Their day started before the sun came up and they were the very last to cross the finish line. I figured if they were doing that, the least I could do was participate with our little girl (and my mom) and join the community in showing our support.
Naturally I couldn’t just show up in any old attire. Since Shawn had his uniform on I donned my running skirt that matched and Katura got her very own matching onesie at the military surplus store! We became the matchy-matchy family for the day. I’m confident this won’t be the last time.
It was a little after 5am that I was woken up by the rain. Katura and I kept snuggling, but eventually gave up and started our day with milk and cartoons – and constant checks of the weather. Meanwhile Shawn was already out there getting ready. Eek! By the time my mom arrived we were good to go in the weather department, Katura was bundled, the GoPro was attached and we were ready to head to town. I wanted to get there early since it was sure to be a popular event and parking was limited. Once I had my parking spot I could finally relax. Phew!
We weren’t at the park very long before I looked over and saw Shawn and the gang doing their walk. I ran over to say Hi and see how it was going, and this was the first time I got to see Shawn in full uniform. He cleans up quite well!
Before the race began there was a moment of silence followed immediately by a prayer. The National Guard came out for the Star Spangled Banner, then promptly at 10am we were off! That sounds like we actually started. It took us over 2 minutes to get to the start line, which I didn’t realize was being time…. The only timing mat was at the finish line, but like I said, this was not a race. If I was writing this as a runner I’d probably complain that the course was too narrow for the amount of people, and that it was an out and back which means it felt even more congested after making the turn and having to dodge even more people. Most of the event was filled with people walking together, many holding hands, kind of wandering and spread sometimes 6 across. The runner in me would have gotten twitchy. And at first I could tell this would be the most difficult 5K of my life. Quickly I changed my mind-set to being that of just there for the comradery, great weather, and a goal of being done with my 3.1 miles in time to see Shawn finish his 5.6. As I understand it, the original desire for the race was to have it in a neighborhood area, which then this congestion wouldn’t have been an issue. Maybe next year?
So the “race”…. It started on a normal street in the park, but quickly condensed to the bike path. I know this path well, as it is where I have done the majority of my training for long races … and I knew that it is narrow and bumpy… so to the side of the path it was. I was actually able to run with the stroller easier there than be forced to slowly walk on the less than ideal bike path. My mom and I basically played a real life game of Frogger. At times I felt like I was on the freeway, trying to pass on the left, or on a highway wanting to pass, but watching for oncoming traffic. There was a moment where I was playing Chicken with a stroller that looked exactly like mine. No crash happened, so we were all winners! Each kilometer marker had the name of a different shooting victim (hence the 9K race/9 victims). Many people were wearing shirts in honor of someone. Team Becka had the biggest turn out it seemed. I was looking at her shirt non-stop! It was really nice to see everyone out together. As crowded as the path was, there was never any sort of negativity amongst the participants. Everyone seemed to be cheering each other on and saying Hi to friends as paths crossed.
I worked my mom harder than I have on any of our other races together, yet because of the weaving and crowd this ended up our slowest race together. That means it was even longer time I was keeping her running! She did leave me in the dust on the first of two steep hills. We ran up the first hill in the race with no problem, but pushing the stroller up two that are steep without a stroller? Yikes!
The last mile of the course was really nice. It was finally open enough that we actually could run and not have to swerve. The park was lively as we ran along the golf course, by the train and through the finish line. Music was playing and there were oodles of bananas, apples and water bottles. We grabbed some snacks, then began the rest of our race day … cheering on Shawn and his friend as they worked to complete the 5.6 miles while carrying 230 pounds. It was quite impressive to watch. Greg, the one carrying the weight, is a machine I tell you! I don’t know anyone else that could have the mental or physical stamina to pull this off!
All in all it was a really nice event. Next year, knowing what I know now about the crowded course, (and if it doesn’t get altered) … I’ll probably leave Katura and my mom to do the 5K together and I’ll run the 9K and be at the front so I can actually run it. I’ve yet to do that distance, so now it’s on the radar!
Oh, so I used the GoPro on this race as well. It was VERY bumpy, but speeding it up to 4x speed and just taking snippets, it actually doesn’t look as crazy as it was. I made this video just to share my own experience with the race and cheering on Greg & Shawn. I’m pretty happy with the result considering it was my first attempt at something like this and I put it all together with a busy little climbing all over me! Photos, GoPro footage, video from my iPhone, music … Who knew I could be so fancy as to merge these things?!?!