On Oct. 10th, 2014 I embarked onto a new part of Oregon that I have never been to.... Bend Oregon. Race day was Saturday, Oct. 11th.
I have been told that Bend has the most craft breweries per capita. Some states may have more breweries, but with the number available per the population, Bend wins. If you do a google search for "Beer City, USA"... guess which city you will find? Bend! They are that serious about their craft beer. So, if running is a lot more fun as a social event and drinking is a lot more fun in a social environment, Bend Beer Chase is your race.
When I started this race, I admit that I didn't know a whole lot about the beverage in which our race was focused around, but that soon changed.
My team mate Gregg had been a brewer and I soon learned about the color of beer, how the malt can change the flavor (caramel malts, roasted malts dark malts...) and the IBU of beer (international bitterness units scale). It was soon determined that "blondes don't turn me on" and I enjoyed the beers with a higher IBU. After doing some "homework" and learning about some of the award winning beers Bend had to offer, my teammates and I parted ways to get some rest before the race in the morning. I guess you could say we had an early start... We were a spirited team.
|Packet pickup on Friday night included Beer Pong. Photo by my team mate, Michael.|
As we made our way through the race, we were able to enjoy samples of many of the breweries who not only sponsored the event but have award winning beer. My disappointment is that as I ran past Smith Rock Brewing in Redmond, they had not yet set up their samples... so I missed out (as well as my team mates who did not know that the sample would be on the actual course, instead of at the exchange point). This was my first leg, leg 4.
I had only done one relay before this and never a one day relay, so I wasn't sure what to expect! We had stopped by packet pick up that evening and soon learned that participants could choose between a cotton race shirt, a trucker-type hat or a warmer beanie type hat as their race swag. (So if you have enough race shirts spilling out of your closet and drawers, a hat would be a great option for you! The weather is a bit cooler in October, so a that is also a good choice. I went with the shirt. Ha!)
The race itself started at 6:30am with waves thereafter for approximately 64 teams (give or take). Each team could have as many as 6 members or as few as 2 for the 70 mile event. We ran with 5 members and Michael and Gregg took on the extra two legs of the 12 total to be ran.
The race offered some scenic views, and as someone who had never actually been to Bend, this was a real treat to see a new part of Oregon. If beer is not enough for a trip to Bend, the beautiful outdoors surely will be. We ran in the high desert of Central Oregon, past sweeping views of the Cascades and as we had a whole gamut of weather conditions and saw a few tumbleweeds cross our path due to wind and the Ponderosa Pine helped shade us from the warm sun.
|Me (uh hem) "hydrating" before my first leg; baton pass off on exchange 3 for leg 4; Running on a dusty leg 9 and bottom is me finishing leg 9.|
We started at Wild Ride Brewery and I wove my way through the city streets of Remond. This is stop and go with traffic signals and crosswalks, but wasn't too terrible. For 15 minutes, my team was number one. In first place! And then as I stood at a traffic signal, waiting for my turn to go, a woman screamed "I'm going!" and darted across the street. I had been chicked. The first (of many times) I was someone's roadkill. You sorta get used to it after awhile. After passing (the not yet set up) Smith Rock Brewery, the course ends up on SW Highland Ave, which felt more like a freeway than an avenue. If running on a road with fast moving traffic is nerve wracking, I suggest avoiding this leg. The reality of it was obvious when I passed a roadside monument to someone who had died. I stopped letting my eyes wander over the pretty scenery and focused on the oncoming cars sharing the road with me.
Once I was done with the busy street, I turned into Cline Falls State Park for a nice downhill to my exchange. I felt bad for Scott who had to trek back up my nice decline. He went back onto the same busy street and said a car locked their brakes and skidded toward him. For a moment he said he was contemplating where he needed to jump to avoid the car!
|View at Cline Falls State Park, photo by Michael|
Because the rule book allows for legs to be chosen "out of order" and based on what each team mate would like to do based on energy endurance, experience or strategy... we went out of sequence and I then took leg 9 as my second leg. My last leg.
|Part of the view on my second leg. Photo by my team mate, Michael.|
Something I had known about, but completely forgot was the elevation change and how that can mess with your oxygen levels.... and make a runner feel more fatigued. I pushed hard through it my first leg and may have pushed a little too hard? My knee was killing me and I hobbled through my second leg.
This leg (leg 9) departs Sisters Rodeo Fairgrounds and through some country roads roads both paved and unpaved. Mostly unpaved. If you have this leg you should highly consider a handkerchief or some sort of face cover in your gear supply. The handbook made no mention of that and it sure didn't occur to me to pack one.
The wind was pretty strong and stirring up the dust and was made much worse by vans that were driving quickly to the next exchange point. The unpleasantness of the dust was a small drop in my (beer) cup compared to the beautiful desert views and the comradery of the runners with me on this course. When my team had assisted me with more water and cheers, I asked my teammate Michael to go back a few yards to take pictures of the landscape, which he had done for me. It was so beautiful, I wanted to make sure to remember it. I also had the opportunity to cheer and encourage everyone who passed me, which helps me feel better when the going gets rough for me. Another team ("The Cracked Six Pack") came to the rescue to my diminished moral by giving me a "power arch" and crepe paper finish line with 2 more miles to go on my leg.
|Wind and dust on my leg. Photo by Michael|
|Dirt road continues for leg 10|
After that, I felt like a million bucks and lumbered on to my team mates at the windy/dusty exchange "Three Sisters View Point". I think I missed enjoying this view point as I jumped into our car to avoid the wind and to wash the dirt out of my mouth.
After the race, breweries that were not featured at the exchange points (or on the course) were at the finish for a 6Keg run/walk. This part was untimed, though there was a time commitment to finish the 6K(eg) by 6:30pm. We finished by 5:15pm and departed on the final 6K. My team went to the first brewery on the course and we quickly decided that The Bend Brewing Company was too crowded and we moved on to Silver Moon Brewing. After a Pumpkin Ale taste, we ventured on to 10 Barrel Brewing.
|Bend, Oregon. Photo I took while on the 6K beer crawl|
We had an hour to complete the tour of 6 breweries after our official relay finish but it became pretty obvious we weren't going to finish the 6Keg in time as the brewery broke down their sample tent and table and we were encouraged to go straight to the last brewery for our finisher's medal. I don't have any experience at all with planning an event of this caliber, but I hope that next year the organization of breweries is done in such a way that all the breweries have an equal chance at showcasing their excellent brews to all the participants. I certainly wish I had the opportunity to taste all the breweries. I guess I'll just have to plan another road trip to Bend for a brewery tour.
Overall, the event was very well organized, friendly, well marked course and a whole lot of fun! I am new to relays, but really enjoyed the experience (and lack of stress) the one day relay has to offer.
|front and back|
Race swag included your choice in race apparel between a cotton shirt, trucker hat or a warm beanie type hat at packet pickup and a chance to throw a ping pong ball into a cup of beer for a free sticker. (Thanks Gregg for the sticker... 16 beers before packet pickup and I wasn't throwing that ball very well.) At the finish line, a sample beer cup with the bottle opener/finisher's medal in it. Very fun experience and made even more memorable and fun by the team mates I had. I hope we can get together again for another relay event or race.
|Me and Anne taking a break at Three Creeks Brewery|
Have you done a relay?
A beer themed race?