The elk is out and the octopus is in as the logo for the Lincoln City Half Marathon and 10K, which returns this Sunday, March 3. But runners still have a pretty good chance of glimpsing at least one herd of elk along the course, which winds along a scenic country road just east of Lincoln City.

Held annually on the first Sunday of March, the race is fast becoming a favorite way to kick off the season. The out and back course starts on the track at Taft High School then follows along Schooner Creek on a road that includes an unpaved section for those braving the full 13.1 miles of the half marathon.

Growing in popularity and being included in a statewide half marathon series hasn’t caused the race to lose its small-town feel, partially due to the number of locals who turn out to volunteer on race day.

“We have tons of groups who help out,” said Recreation Coordinator Raleigh Bartholomew. “From the Girl and Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, youth sports teams and leagues, families, it’s amazing.”

And many of those not helping out will be working out.

“It’s perfect timing for kids on the track teams,” Bartholomew said. “It leads into the season, so can set the bar for how to approach it.”

At least one person will be attempting to both work and work out on race day.

“I’m going to be pretty busy,” Bartholomew said. “But my bosses said I could at least run the 10K.”

Don’t be fooled by the small-town feel; the race includes professional timing, music and filling food at the finish line, including Mo’s clam chowder. All participants receive a long-sleeved technical shirt and finisher’s medal. Awards include prizes for the top overall finishers and ribbons for top finishers in five-year age groups for both distances.

The run is historically a pet-friendly event and you can help ensure it stays that way by following a few rules. Come prepared to pick up after your pooch; bags aren’t provided but there are trash cans at every aid station so you won’t have to convey your pet’s poop far.

Also, as this race starts in a chute, either have a partner wait with your dog a bit lower on the course, or start at the very back of the pack. You’ll have plenty of time to catch other runners and won’t risk ruining someone else’s race by causing them to trip over a leash.

With minimal elevation change, the run is also friendly for first timers, like half-marathon newbie Niki Price of Lincoln City.

Price was in Chicago for a wedding during the Chicago Marathon, and observing the race was a revelation.

“There were probably about four times the number of people participating than live in Lincoln City,” she said. “I really got to see that people who attempt a marathon come in many different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities; it really inspired me.”

Though she regularly weight-trained and occasionally attempted short runs for the past decade, it wasn’t until seeing that marathon that she even considered taking running seriously as a way to increase her fitness.

“I never could get past four miles and I see now a lot of that was mental,” she said. “I always felt like my knees would keep me from going farther. I started by using a training app and increasing my miles slowly and reducing my calorie intake. Now I’m running up to 12 and a half miles and my knees feel fine.”

Though Price admits she isn’t pain free, the benefits of a mixing long runs and sticking with weight training are far outweighing the costs.

“My brother gave me some advice when he started training,” she said. “You have to get to the place where your body really craves it and I’ve gotten there. I feel like something is missing from my day if I am not doing something.”

The Lincoln City Half Marathon and 10K will take off on Sunday, March 3, from Taft High School, 3780 Spyglass Ridge Road. at 9 am, early start for half marathon walkers at 8 am. Packet pick is from 10 am to 2 pm at the Lincoln City Community Center, 2150 NE Oar Place, on Saturday, March 2, or race day from 7 to 8:30 am. Go to getmeregistered.com to register before March 2. For more information, find the Lincoln City Half Marathon page on Facebook, or call 541-994-2131.

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