In its fifteenth year, the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and kids’ half-miler gives you a nice view of downtown Portland. It begins and ends on the East side near OMSI, and all distances feature two breezy bridge crossings to take in some of the sights in SW Portland. This year I did the 10K.
Distance reviewed: 10K
Elevation gain: About 322 feet
Size of field: Around 500 participants in the 10K / 1,500 in all distances
The Charity: Children’s Cancer Association
The Brews: Beer from Lagunitas Brewing and cider from Two Towns Cider House
Scenic Course – With a start/finish at OMSI and a loop that crosses two of Portland’s iconic bridges, the Cinco de Mayo has a pretty sweet course. You get great views of the Willamette, some lovely fountains on the West side, and that famous “Portland Oregon” sign in Old Town – which locals remember as the White Stag sign.
However, it is also an honest look at the city of Portland. Translation: you’re gonna see homeless people.
Flat race- The Cinco de Mayo race is MOSTLY flat. I did hear from a couple of the other participants who didn’t expect any hills at all. But as anyone who’s done a few races in Portland will attest, there is a very gradual, long incline as you head South along Naito. So be prepared for that. It’s not steep, but it does continue for awhile. Then, after the turnaround at Mile 4, you’re cruisin’ back down that same long hill and it feels so good.
Two Beers – Two beers are included with your Cinco de Mayo race registration. As in, one for each hand. Oh, and if beer doesn’t float your boat, they’ve also got hard ciders. When my friends reached the beer garden, there was no line! So they were able to pick up both of their drinks before the crowds arrived, and I found them all standing around with two drinks apiece. Sweeeet.
Sweet medal and soft shirt – The Half and 10K events include a really nice medal. It’s not the super oversized, chunky medal you’ll see in some races, but it’s a nice size and a nice design. The Cinco de Mayo race shirt is a soft, wearable vintage-look tee.
One word: Didgeridoo – Any time an event includes a dude jammin’ on the didgeridoo, it’s worth some extra credit.
This is how long I felt I could stop to video. KEEP GOING, HEYRUNNERMAMA!
Limited parking – Parking was a big issue. As in, there is practically none. We spent about 20 minutes circling the nearby streets looking for parking. Many of the spaces were short-term, not long enough for a 10K race. If you’re local, definitely take public transit. If you drive, give yourself a lot of extra time, because you may have a long walk to the start line. Unless you work at OMSI and your name is stenciled on a parking space, you gotta think ahead for this one.
Some traffic troubles – Several times, traffic made it onto the closed course with the participants during the finish of the 5K. So, there were cars and big-ass semi trucks, stuck driving among the runners. One driver was so frustrated, they laid on their horn at a runner who was just trying to finish the race.
Yikes! This is a safety issue.
To their credit, the race directors must have gotten the problem sorted out by the time the rest of us finished. In my 10K race, I didn’t see any cars on the closed parts of the course.
If you can get past the parking issues, the Cinco de Mayo race is a solid option for downtown Portland races. You’ll cross two bridges and get a prime view of the Portland, Oregon sign. Pretty sweet features if you’d like to see a little bit of the city. Definitely treat yourself to two beers while you sport a sweet medal around your neck. Just make sure you have a plan to get to the start line!
Looking for another scenic race with amazing river and bridge views? Check out our recap of the Run On the River Half Marathon!