Posted by: David Stewart | July 17, 2012

Beautiful, but Brutal

In case you are wondering, the title of the post is a quote from my friend Scott Alder about a race course. It’s not the description of any person, living or dead.

The race was the Fueled by Fine Wine Half, which ran its third edition on July 15, 2012. Each year’s course is different.

Let’s get the Brutal out of the way first: 2382 feet of ascent.

That is nearly a half mile of uphill running over a 13.1 mile race. Since it’s a loop course, you have just as much downhill running of course. Aside from the overall ascent, there was at least one short section that was so steep it was tough to stay upright without significant leaning forward.

Now the Beautiful: This year’s course wound through my absolute favorite wineries in the Dundee Hills AVA. That last part requires a little bit of wine lore: The “American Viticultural Areas” or AVAs  are designated grape growing regions in the US which bring a distinct geographical character to their wines. Dundee Hills has three of the four top wineries in the state of Oregon, so it’s pretty special. This year’s course included romps through Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, Archery Summit, Vista Hills, and Sokol Blosser, to name a few. What was really fun was to see these famous vineyards from a totally unique perspective. At one point I was climbing up switchbacks in a vineyard and saw a large reddish building slanting against the hill and said to myself, “I bet that’s Drouhin’s winery.” Sure enough, the building was the Drouhin family’s famous five-story gravity fed winery, but seen from the bottom, rather than the top.

Last year’s course was hilly as well. In contrast, last year had a lot of the course running through the suburbs of Dundee, Oregon and this year’s course got off the roads after the 2.5 mile mark. Grass, dirt and gravel were the predominant surfaces. This area is known as “The Red Hills of Dundee” for good reason. There was plenty of red soil clinging to shoes and ankles after the run.

I was pretty disappointed in my own run. I have been suffering with a sore plantar’s fascia (bruised heal) which made the downhills really painful to run. Last year my time was awful, but I managed to win 3rd place in my age group. This year’s time was just five minutes slower, just under two hours – still pretty terrible for me. There were a bunch of much faster guys in my age group this year and they gave me an ol’ country whoopin’.

After the event, there were terrific wines to taste, and I ran into a friend from Sweden who was visiting the area this week. It was great to hook up with Gunnar and hang out together.

So I’m not crying too much. I will say that I’m not likely to punish myself again in a race like this. At least until Hood to Coast next month…



  1. […] For a more detailed account of this year’s event, please visit AC Dave’s blog for his event review, titled appropriately “Beautiful, but Brutal.” […]

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