Friday, August 12, 2016

Oregon Trail Game 5k

I think I remember hearing something about this race in it's inaugural year last year, but it was back on my radar earlier this year and I decided I definitely needed to sign up for it this year, even realizing that I'd be 7 months pregnant. I wasn't clear on the exact details of the game aspect, but it sounded super fun! (So I was excited to host a guest post about it when they approached me more recently.)

There was packet pick-up for the race earlier in the week, but it's the other side of the metro area so we just decided to do pick-up the morning of. After both Abe and I apparently turning off our alarms, we woke up about 15 minutes before we intended to leave, but ended up getting out the door pretty quickly and arriving at the race 10 minutes before pick-up officially opened. There was tons of street parking available within a few blocks of the race start when we arrived, but we saw it fill up pretty quickly. 


There were lots of bonnets being worn!

We got our bibs and the t-shirt I'd ordered (you had to pay extra, but I think it was only $10 ahead of time and $15 day of). You also got a string backpack, with some coupons, a pen, and chapstick from the sponsors.


Occupations were assigned that would ultimately impact your game play - based on the race's major sponsors, you were either a carpenter, doctor, or actor. The bib also had a spot to check off your pace and food ration. 



The race got started just a few minutes late, but they were pretty organized - they had pace signs and had at least reminder over the loud speaker to pay attention to how you were lined up. Though a smaller race (under a thousand people), they started us off in smaller waves, so as to minimize congestion at the beginning of the race which included a staircase almost right off the bat. It was still a bit congested - if I'd been trying to PR I might have been annoyed, but they were clearly doing what they could to mitigate that issue.



The course goes up a staircase (those with strollers could take the municipal elevator up to the top of this area), then continues on a paved trail alongside the hill, into neighborhoods and eventually back towards downtown. You get some nice views of Oregon City and the river! The elevation profile didn't looked nearly as bad when I looked at the data afterward as it felt during the race, but realistic the first 2.5 miles is going up, and then there's a steep downhill in the last half mile. Mostly on paved trail or streets, although there was one block of a sort of alley that was gravel. Not a race you'd want to plan on PR-ing, for sure, but could be a pretty fun challenge to push yourself on!

Mile 1: 14:15
Mile 2: 14:13
Mile 3: 13:05
Mile 3.1: 0:22 time (10:03 pace for 0.04 by my Garmin)

During the race, there were also 5 decision points where you had to decide between things like floating or fording the river, or stopping to hunt or continuing on. They first three I think had volunteers on each side ready to hand you one of the two cards; at the second two you had to grab it off a clothes line. Not sure why the difference, but either way it didn't take more than a few seconds at each point to get your card. You got an immediate consequence on the back of the card, such as that you made it safely to the other side of the river or that your wagon broke down. However, none of them gave an ultimate outcome of making it to the end of the Oregon trail. 

After the race, you had to submit your occupation, pace, food ration, and decision point cards to come up with your ultimate outcome. There was a place to do so at the race, but the line was ridiculously long. There was a website to submit the data yourself; they were having some technical difficulties for a couple hours, first it wouldn't get you to the place to submit your data, then it wasn't processing it as quickly as it was supposed to. But by midday it had all been resolved and you could submit and view your result. 

There were game standard outcomes - you died of dysentery, you drowned, etc. Also some fun twists - the dramatic election year made you reconsider your westward plans, you mistook Pokemon Go for the trail map and barely made it out of Independence. Abe and I got mostly the same cards but made some decisions differently, and he ended up making it t to the Willamette Valley, whereas I ran out of food and starved to death.


Finishers got the most amazing medal, made out of an old floppy disc! There were other goodies at the end of the the race, too, including beer and ice cream. It was definitely a bit crowded with long lines for the various things at the end (even though I think we were relatively midpack). But it was still a really fun event! It's the type of novelty race that while I enjoy, I'm not sure I'd go back for every year, but I would like to do it at least once more while not pregnant to see how well I can tackle the running aspect. It's also walking friendly (a friend of mine walked it in just over an hour), and even stroller friendly. 


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