Friday, October 3, 2014

What is a Vegetarian doing here? - The Great Bacon Race

One of the many perks of being a frequent flyer on Southwest is earning Companion Pass status so that a companion can fly free with you on your flights. The more we fly, the more perks we earn, and the more we want to fly. One perk that Susan hasn’t earned yet is Southwest Preferred Status. Given all the trips we’re taking this year, it turned out that she was just three round trips short of earning this status so we set out to find a few more travel destinations. Our criteria was that 1) We had to be free that weekend (there aren't many of those between now and the end of the year), 2) It had to be somewhere Southwest flies relatively cheaply, 3) Bonus if it was a destination where we could visit with friends.

When we learned that our friend Wendy’s niece was planning to earn Marathon Half Fanatic status, we decided to fly up to support Crystal for the first of her two back-to-back weekend half marathons. Another friend Al also flew up to pace Crystal since it was her first ever half marathon. Wendy and her nephew Derek joined us for his first 10k. Everything was coming together nicely. 

There was just one small detail that made this whole plan even more surreal. The race Crystal chose to do near her home was, “The Great Bacon Race.” Ron was excited – everything tastes better with bacon. However, Susan was less than enthusiastic having been a vegetarian for nearly 30 years. The opportunity to customize our race bibs pretty much says it all. Upon check in, Susan learned she had earned favorite custom bib status by one of the race organizers. Her bib was even posted on the race website. The other favorite bib they pointed out was, “The Baconator” which was proudly worn by none other than Derek. We must be an imaginative group!

Which brings us to the night before the race. Since we were only racing the 10k the next day, we diverged from our traditional pasta dish and branched out to try a few appetizers and pizzas at Twilight Pizza Bistro. Susan sampled the fried zucchini and then took a bite out of the fried fully loaded baked potato balls. Her first reaction was, “Hey, there’s bacon in these!” Feeling proud that she still recognized the taste of bacon but horrified that the weekend was shaping up pretty much as one would expect – lots of bacon! Ron and Al proceeded to counterbalance their inner carnivore by proceeding to order not one but two vegetarian pizzas for dinner. At least there was something there that Susan would enjoy eating.

Susan usually asks if there's meat, garlic, raw onions or dressing in all side dishes. We didn't even have a chance to taste test it for her.
Marathon Maniac (on a 10K) with Da Baconator
Sunday morning was a glorious sunny day. We got to the race start with plenty of time to spare despite the check engine light on the rental car coming on and being given wrong directions for parking nowhere near the race start. No, these were not Susan’s attempts to accidentally “miss” the actual race and avoid the bacon altogether!

This was the second year of The Great Bacon Race in Vancouver, WA and the first year they offered a half marathon. Small town races can give you some great self-esteem since the age groups are usually pretty small. Crystal won her age group for the half marathon. Ron and Wendy both won their age groups for the 10k. Derek completed his first 10k. Al was pacing Crystal so his placement didn’t count (though he did finish 2nd). The only one left out was Susan who placed 5th in her age group. Clearly she should have done better if she had been eating more bacon! Full results here.

When organizing a race for approximately 200 hundred people (fewer people than in a single corral at a Rock ‘n’ Roll race), you can afford to be somewhat flexible. There were 32 finishers in the half marathon, 56 finishers in the 10k, and 122 finishers in the 5k. When selecting a smaller race, you have to be more flexible in setting your expectations.
  • The location for Saturday packet pickup was emailed out the same day. The mid-week locations at Krispy Kreme in Oregon didn't help those of us traveling from out of town and those who live in Washington. Turns out there was a location for a Saturday pick-up buried in the comment stream of the event's Facebook page (if you knew where to look).
  • The race start times varied depending on where you looked and who you asked. In the end, the half marathon started at 9:15 am, the 10k started at 9:25 am, and the 5k started soon thereafter (exact time unknown since no one in our party did the 5k).  
  • I guess you could say the mile markers were also somewhat flexible even though the course was supposed to be certified. Starting with mile 2 in both races on different courses, our GPS watches indicated that the course was marked short.
  • The directional arrows were also somewhat flexible and it wasn't always clear where to go, especially for those who were not familiar with the area. The volunteers in general were really good, except for the one volunteer who wasn't standing at his post and about a half a dozen people got lost in a parking lot until realizing they were off-track.
The finish line was sparsely populated by the time Crystal and Al came in, but those who were there were enthusiastically cheering on the finishers. 

The finish area was in an airplane hanger. There waiting for us was our reward – 2 slices of bacon per person and pork tacos. Derek found out that they start getting uptight when you go back for the second (or third) round of bacon. At least the watermelon salsa was yummy.


The Great Bacon Race includes a half marathon, 10 k, 5 k, kids 0.5 mi fun run, and “Holdyns Race” – a race for special needs children. At the start of the race, the organizers presented a special running stroller for Jayce, a ceremony that really warmed the heart.

This was the heart of racing country and there was a half dozen fairly serious race walkers in the field (figure sub 12-12:30/mile). Both Ron and Susan finished in the top 3 of the walker contingent as far as we could tell. While this was Ron's 10K PR, Dumbo probably shouldn't count since there were a lot fewer photo ops on this race.

This race had something for everyone, including bacon from several nationalities on the medal.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it, Henry. I've never been to Hearst Castle. I'll have to put that on our list as we get up to the area often?