On August 10, my hubby Bill and I traveled 45 minutes south from our son’s house in Corvallis through the farm country of Central Oregon to Junction City to run the Scandia Run 5K. Our son Rob graciously volunteered to be our driver, jacket-holder, guide, and photographer.
Running roots run deep in this area. Junction City is less than 20 miles from the running Mecca of Eugene, where the storied Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine made running history. The Scandia Run first began in 1975.
The Scandia Run is part of a Scandinavian Heritage festival held each year in Junction City. Streets are closed to make room for stands selling Scandinavian foods and crafts, and Scandinavian music fills the air. Modern-day Vikings in horned helmets stroll the streets with women dressed in traditional Scandinavian attire.
Rob dropped us off two blocks away from the race start and parked the car while Bill and I picked up our packets. After pinning on our bibs, we ambled over to the starting line to watch the children’s race, which began 30 minutes before the 5K.
Several dozen children, all wearing race bibs sporting the number 1, ran between the crossed swords of two Vikings at the sound of a horn, then tore down the wide, flat street for a few blocks, turned around and triumphantly raced back to the finish line encouraged by the cheers of spectators and cheerleaders from the local high school.
There was a 10K race, which began 15 minutes after the children’s run, then the 5K began 15 minutes after that.
Bill and I lined up in the chute with more than 300 other racers . When the Viking horn sounded, we were off, running down the same street the children raced on.
My race plan, if you could call it that, was to run comfortably hard, rather than pedal to the metal and I followed that plan very easily. The 5K race course was almost completely pancake-flat (and I mean the American version of flapjacks, not the round Scandinavian “aebelskivers” given to race-goers before by the run). We quickly ran outside of town, into the surrounding farmland.
As the first mile marker came into view, I felt great, better than I have felt during a race in…well in a long time. I almost didn’t trust the feeling and wondered when the slow down would come, but I resolved to enjoy the effortless feeling of being in control and pressed on.
At the midway point of the race, we did a quick turn-around and headed back toward town. I was still feeling really good at the second mile marker and decided to increase my speed very slightly.
As we rounded the final corner and headed back down the street we started on, I was beginning to get tired, but I had a time goal in mind and didn’t want to take a walk break. The finish line was in sight, however, it seemed very far away. I put my head down so that I could not fixate on the distance remaining and kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I crossed the finish line in 25:48, my fastest 5K time since before my hamstring injury. Bill finished 12 seconds behind me.
After the race, I ambled down the street to the place where Dari Mart was dispensing chocolate milk, regular milk, or orange juice – the only post-race refreshments – and took a cup of chocolate milk. I took one sip, then gave the cup to my son and asked him to “hold” it.
Rob and I have a history involving chocolate milk.
After running the Portland, Oregon Marathon several years ago, Rob somehow found me in the crowd at the finish. Runners were being funneled through a food line, but non-runners (like Rob) were separated from the runners by a chain-link fence.
I had a cup of chocolate milk in one hand and was having difficulty balancing a popsicle, bag of chips, granola bar, etc. in the other, so I asked Rob to hold my chocolate milk for me and handed it to him over the barrier.
After I made my way through the food line and around the chain-link fence to meet Rob, I asked for the chocolate milk (my favorite post-race treat) back. He thought I was giving him the chocolate milk to drink and had finished it. My face must have fallen because he apologized profusely.
It became a story that we have told over and over.
This time, I meant to give him the chocolate milk to drink (after just one creamy, sweet sip for me). It is not compatible with my sugar-free diet.
At the awards ceremony, I learned that while we did not win any of the door prizes given out by the race organizers, I did win my age group, for which I was given a second tech shirt (in addition to the race shirt).
The Scandia Run is a race that I strongly recommend. An announcer told the crowd of assembled runners that thousands used to run this race annually in the 1970s and the organizers are trying to grow the race to its previous levels. I hope they succeed.
There are many pros for this race: easy parking and registration, a fun, lively atmosphere surrounding the Scandinavian festival, a well-organized event with plenty of communication from the race director, door prizes, a flat, fast course, chip timing, reasonable registration fees, immediate results, and even a Viking send-off.
The only con I can think of is the lack of post-race refreshments, although I understand the organizers want participants to buy food from the food stands at the festival.
I hope to be in Oregon again next year at this time so I can run the Scandia Run race again.