On Your Marks, Get Set…

By Karl Klooster

A brand new annual event called the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon has been scheduled for Sept. 5 (the Sunday of Labor Day weekend).

According to Event Director Matt Dockstader, the race is expected to attract between 1,500 and 2,000 avid distance runners from around the western United States.

The 13.1-mile course begins at Stoller Vineyard, east of Lafayette on McDougall Road. It heads through Lafayette to 12th Street, cuts north on Abbey Road, turns west on Hendricks Road and ends at the Tyrus Evan Wine Depot on Pine Street in downtown Carlton.

A post-race event for participants is being developed by the Carlton Business Association. Though still in the planning stages, it will include wining and dining.

Dockstader’s company, Destination Races of Sonoma, Calif., launched the concept of wine country half marathons in 2004. It now stages three of them in California, one in Santa Barbara, one in Napa/Sonoma, and one in Healdsburg.

Dan Shryock, digital media director at the News-Register in McMinnville, and Phil Hutchinson, CEO of the McMinn-ville Area Chamber of Commerce, began discussions with the company last fall in conjunction with the Oregon Sports Authority in Portland.

Shryock, who has taken a leadership position in Yamhill Valley tourism promotion the past several years, is serving as liaison between community entities and Destination Races on behalf of the News-Register.

He said Dockstader initially approached Meyer Freeman at the Oregon Sports Authority, because of that organization’s ongoing role in implementing economic development through athletic activities.

After evaluating possible alternatives suggested by Freeman, Dockstader decided on the Yamhill Valley because of its prime location and excellent infrastructure.

“We’ve had terrific local support and cooperation in putting this together,” he said. “I’m really sold on the area.

“It’s everything we look for. Beautiful vineyards, excellent facilities. All the elements for success are here.”

He said, “I anticipate that, like our California events, within two years our advance registration for the Oregon Half Marathon will reach 3,000. That’s the maximum number the area can manage.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way local officials have been working with us to make all the necessary arrangements.”

Though Destination Races is thoroughly versed in management of events this size, it still needs dozens of volunteers to make everything go smoothly.

It uses volunteers to help with parking, shuttle busing, registration, course control and public safety.

Volunteers to assist on race day will be drawn from the local area. All told, the organizers expect to have more than 100 people on hand to help staff the event.

More complex coordination and logistics will be handled by Oregon Sports Authority.

“We’re going to headquarter out of The Allison Inn in Newberg,” Dockstader said. “We expect that runners and other people coming to attend the race will book hotel rooms and B&Bs all over the valley—probably even as far away as Salem.” 


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