The Heart Breaker Half and Providence Heart-to-Start 5k/10k is a strong race, and its two strongest points are the lovely course, and the great people who run and walk it.
I got to the venue for the Heart Breaker with only a few minutes to spare. Liberty High School is a nice, newer, big school with several parking lots – all of which were clearly marked with “Event Parking” signs. After circling a few of them and finding no open spots, I found parking on the street and ran back to the school building, dashing inside to find a bathroom. The line for the indoor bathrooms was a mile long! Back outside, I found a porta john with a thankfully short line. The race emcee was announcing less than two minutes to the start of my event – the 10k – and all of us crowded around the two porta potties were getting nervous. As a young lady in front of me went in, her Portland Running Company teammate asked her, “Do you want me to time you?” At first she laughed. Then she said, “Yeah okay. My PR is forty seconds.”
You guys. Not only did she know her Personal Record for a pee, she was willing to best it. And her friend? Really, actually timed her with a watch. Because if you’re going to have fun, you might as well commit to it all the way.
I barely made it to the start line in time, but had to run! Good warmup, I suppose. And it can be fun to start at the back of the pack, so you have some people to pass.
While running the rolling hills in scenic farmland, I was passed by a tall male cupid with feather wings, a shorty tutu and speakers blasting sweet trance music. I was also passed on an uphill by a guy pushing someone in a fast-looking racing wheelchair. I managed to catch up with and pass the Barefoot Guy (there’s always one), but my thoughts were with his poor feet when we got to the gravel road. But it also rained for much of the race, so maybe he got to squish some soothing mud between his toes later.
This is a race where you can live that very special moment which sometimes crops up to remind you that you’re racing in Oregon, home of the running elite: First, a motorcycle passed us on the right half of the road. Then a guy in a Bowerman singlet f-l-e-w past all of us, bounding along at an impossible pace, feet seemingly never touching the ground. He left the rest of us in awe. There were hoots among the others, knowing looks and smiles shared between those of us who lope along like mere mortals. Then, I noticed, we all picked up our pace just a little bit.
After the race, I shared the prom-like after party in the school gym with a very cool new friend named Tracey whom I met because she just needed a picture taken. As it turns out, she happens to not only live in my town, but about two blocks away from my house. WHAT? I know! It’s a small world, and these races just serve to bring us all together.
Anyway, it’s about time to break down my likes and dislikes for the The Heart Breaker Half and Providence Heart-to-Start 10k/5k race:
Distance reviewed: 10k
Elevation gain: About 188 feet
Size of field: Over 1,200 participants
The Charity: Providence Heart to Start
The Beer: None?
Nice views. The course is on rural roads in farmland. (If you’ve done the Helvetia Half, you’ll recognize this area.)
Some rolling hills in the 10K, just enough to keep your legs and mind engaged.
Some of the nicest, most good-natured participants.
Kid-friendly elements: A kids’ one-mile dash, although it’s not free. Post-race party is kid-friendly.
Actual breakfast food. You get oatmeal with lots of choices for toppings.
Big, chunky finisher’s medals.
Indoor post-race party. Yes, it feels a bit like prom (“Sweaty, sweaty prom,” as Tracey said) but indoors is better than out, when it’s drizzling.
No on-course fuel. (My friend who did the half marathon confirms this was the case for them, too.)
No water at the post-race party? The only water I saw after crossing the finish was ONE vendor tent out on the field directly after the finish line, that was giving out bottles of water with electrolytes in.
The 10k course was a little long, although not enough of a difference to matter for me. I clocked it at 6.34 miles.
No beer. Did I miss it?!? Were the cool kids drinking under the bleachers?
No swag bag. You’re not seeing a video in this space, because there was nothing to unpack! This race had no extra goodies whatsoever, which can be good or bad depending on your feelings about free stuff and advertising.
Tee shirts were long-sleeved, cotton, and white. In an increasingly funny series of emails, registered participants were informed there would be no shirts and we’d all be receiving race towels instead. Then we were informed there was too much negative feedback to that idea, so we’d be having shirts after all. A third email followed, to say some people had preferred the towel idea, so we could choose either option (or both, for an extra fee).
Finishers’ medals are big, chunky and heavy, and available for purchase separate from the race fee.
Do the Heart Breaker Half for the run itself. Get there early for parking, then enjoy a run on a beautiful course with some great people. Consider bringing water for the finish, especially if you don’t like the bottled products with electrolytes added.