The Adidas Shamrock Run is kind of a local institution. For one morning, they close down the streets of downtown Portland and, if you’re ready, you get to dive into a sea of green and run with thirty thousand of your besties. Yes, it’s a big deal. And it’s definitely got that big event vibe. You have radio personalities and huge speakers pumping music and dancers on scaffolding and mascots and enormous inflatables – and that’s all just when you’re in the starting chute (Which takes up all of Naito Parkway). Along the route you get high school marching bands and cheerleaders. Oh, and do bagpipes get your inner CHARGE going? Aw yeah. You get bagpipes.
It’s also usually rainy and cold. This year did not disappoint, as the weather ranged between heavy misting and all-out dumping, and racers dodged swimming pool-sized puddles on the flatter parts of the course.
Doing something big – The Shamrock Run keeps the masses coming back, year after year. With so many other participants, you’re definitely in good company. Look left. Look right. Your posse is 30,000 people strong today!
Playing dress-up – While we’re talking about your posse, can we just point out that some of them wear kilts? Top hats? You’ll see rainbows on faces and gold-dipped shoes, sparkles and antennae and silly socks and anything, everything green!
Big fitness fair – Unless you formed a team big enough to have your bibs and tees shipped to you, you were at the Oregon Convention Center for packet pick-up. It was filled to the brim with vendors, volunteers, things to see, running stuff to buy, and freebies to gather.
Big after party – If you were ready to brave the cold and stick around at the waterfront, there was chowder from Stanford’s (yummy but just a little dixie cup size – not that I can usually stomach more than that after a race), beer from Widmer, live bands playing, and plenty more booths from staffed by folks just as unafraid of the rain as you are.
Good on-course support – For the 15K, there were plenty of water stops, cops directing traffic where they needed to be, volunteers to cheer, porta johns and even an energy gel station with several flavors of Clif energy gels.
Good stuff – The Shamrock Run always has pretty good stuff. And they change their designs for the shirts and medals each year.
Medals: Both medal designs were good-looking this year. There’s a special medal for the 15K finishers and another medal for the Half Marathon. Both are handy beer bottle openers.
Shirts – The Shamrock Run shirt is one you always see people wearing during lunchtime runs on the Esplanade loop the next day. Some years the shirt design is a hit, sometimes it’s a bit of a miss. (I was not a fan of the white one from 2015.) This year, for the first time since the awesome shield logo in 2013, they’ve got a great looking shirt!
Towels – The half marathon finishers also got towels at the finish. To the rest of us, cold, and wet, those looked mighty inviting. Almost as if they knew it would rain or something, hmm…
Awesome hills – Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but it’s a big plus for me. You get a flat start, then a slow gradual incline to get warmed up, then some sweet little rolling hills mixed with s-curves. Just when you’ve worked every muscle in your legs, you make one more turn and – voila! It’s miles of smooth sailing downhill to the finish.
Could this be the perfect elevation profile?
Puddles on Naito – Yeah, the weather was cruddy. It was cold, and raining, and had rained all night so there were some giant puddles to avoid. But, honestly, when’s the last time you ran a Springtime race and there weren’t puddles on Naito?
Paying for parking (twice) – This suburb dweller hates paying for parking. I know, spoiled. Even if you find a good spot, it’s going to cost you a couple of bucks to park near the Oregon Convention Center for packet pick-up, and another couple of bucks to park downtown on race morning. If you’re more like me and circle for 15 minutes before giving in and parking in the first available garage, you might spend more like $5 to $10 each time. The moral of this story? Share a ride.
Crowded race start – If you hate dodging other people to find your pace in a crowded race start, the Shamrock Run might not be for you. It’s just the nature of a big race that you’ll have some company. But I felt the race planners did a great job of avoiding huge back-ups this year. From my place in the middle-to-back-of-the-pack 15K, there wasn’t a single back-up or traffic jam.
The fitness fair where you pick up your packet for the Shamrock Run is a treasure trove of vendors with freebies. You do have to spend a little time visiting their booths, but they’re all very nice. (And you can skip the ‘Hubbard Dianetics Foundation’ booth if you like. What were they doing there?!?)
Here’s a video of the great stuff I picked up at the expo:
The Shamrock Run is a big, fun tradition. If you haven’t done this one at least once, you’re missing out. You could love it and keep coming back each year! Even if you decide it’s not for you, you’ll have an opinion to share with your office mates when it comes up in conversation that they’re ALL doing Shamrock next year.
Have you done the Shamrock Run, or planning on it next year? Share your thoughts in the comments!