Volunteering at Iron Horse Half Marathon

While I am somewhat improved, I’m not even close to running regularly yet, which is a bit of a bummer. I had some fun half marathons lined up this fall that I was looking forward to running, but alas, they were not meant to be. So, I decided to volunteer at them instead! Also, since Adam is racing them, I still get a race report, but without all the sweat and race anxiety. 😉

This was the inaugural year of the Iron Horse Half Marathon, and one of the great races in the Orca Running family. From my perspective, as a volunteer and spectator, it went very well!

My first volunteering task beginning at 5:30am – unwrapping the medals!

A few interesting tidbits about this race. It had a wave start (7:45am, 8:00am, 8:15am, 8:30am, 8:45am, and 9:00am). The waves created some nice flexibility for the runners, didn’t cause a stampede for the shuttles, and made for a steady stream of finishers at the end.

The course itself is a point-to-point from Ollalie State Park to North Bend. The runners park at the finish and take one of the many available shuttles to the start (with a gear-check and porta-potties.) One of the main selling points for the race is the slightly downhill course, perfect for Personal Record acquisition (and boy were they right!) Adam didn’t think it was a particularly scenic course, but certainly better than a road marathon. (Please keep in mind the other races we’ve done when comparing scenery!) With the crushed gravel flat trail, it’s a nice way to get the similar ease of road running, but with some perks of trail running.

 

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Snazzy medals, patiently awaiting the successful finishers! 

They had aid stations every few miles that were stocked with water, electrolyte drink and gels. I know Adam wished for some fresh fruit (oranges or bananas) at the stations, because we’re more used to “trail food” versus “road food.” A perk of the aid stations was that they had porta-potties available – how nice when out on a trail!

Adam, finishing strong!

The finish line announcer was great today. Very high energy and clearly having a good time. “ANOTHER BIG FINISH!” was his key phrase to bring people down the chute.

There was one unfortunate issue today, though, that was mildly inconvenient at the race finish. The porta-potties had no hand sanitizer and ran out of toilet paper halfway through the morning. It seems like half of the porta-potties arrived empty of those items – seriously bad form on the part of the rental company, if true. I offered to make a quick run to a store to mitigate that issue, and I’m glad I was able to help out. I’m sure it’ll be better next year, but again, unfortunate as, ahem, ‘input’ and ‘output’ things are noticed the most at races!

May we offer you some fruit or Red Vines to accompany your well-earned hot dog and potato salad?

Focusing on the ‘input’ – they had tasty post-race food: hot dogs (vegetarian available upon request), potato salad, fruit and Red Vines. The finishing area was well planned and included food tables (of course), a table with laptops to check real-time results, photo wall, tables and chairs for lounging, race registration for future races, and sponsor tables (which included Franz, Smith Brothers, HOKA One One, Zico, Krave, among others.) A nice area for runners to relax and refuel. They also had a beer garden next to the finish line for some more adult refreshment. 🙂

All smiles at the photo wall for a great race!

Proudly got a PR – 1:56:40!

Additionally, I can say that all of the Orca Running staff I worked with were fantastic. They were all very well organized and cheerful (despite getting there at 2:00am to begin setup!!) I really look forward to volunteering with them more at future races.

I really hope I get to run this race next year. I haven’t cracked my half marathon best since 2010, and this seems like the perfect course for it. Fingers crossed it’ll work out in my race schedule!

Interested in trying out one of the Orca Running races? Don’t forget that because I’m part of their blogger program, you can get a discount on Orca Running races! Check out their races, and use the discount code WILLRUNFORWHISKY to receive 10% off your race registration!

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