Runners tap super powers for Washougal race

Superhero Relay benefits charities, boosts Oktoberfest

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



If You Go

 What: Superhero Relay and 10K.

• When: 5 p.m. Sept. 30; kids 1K begins at 7 p.m.

• Where: Start and finish at Pendleton Woolen Mills, 2 Pendleton Way, Washougal.

• Registration: $141 per three-hero relay team; $57 per 10K solo hero; $20 per kid hero (12 and under). Free admission to Oktoberfest for registered runners.


 What: Oktoberfest 2017.

• When: 4 to 10 p.m. Sept. 29-30.

• Where: Reflection Plaza, 1703 Main St., Washougal.

• Admission: $13 for beer garden and commemorative mug; $5 for general entry and ages 13-20; free for age 12 and under.

Admit it, you’ve always wanted to do this: race about in public wearing a cape that flaps and waves oh so awesomely in your super-speedy wake. For even greater awesomeness, provide your own soundtrack by singing aloud: “Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na … BATMAN!”

It’s no longer a fantasy. Be proud of your super self Sept. 30 as you head for Washougal’s second annual Superhero Relay. If you simply must hide your secret identity beforehand, posing as a mild-mannered citizen as superheroes like to do, you can always slip into a handy phone booth to change costumes. (Right?)

The Superhero Relay — a slightly surreal, completely fun way to raise money for the cross country team at Washougal High School — has expanded its event offerings. In addition to the three-hero, 15K relay — with each hero running 5K and passing the proverbial baton — there’s a 10K for individuals and a 1K for Superkids ages 12 and under.

The fastest relay team will win a $150 prize; there’s also a $150 prize for the team with the best costumes, as voted by applause at the Oktoberfest that follows the runs.

Washougal’s Oktoberfest is the reason behind Sept. 30’s gathering of guardians of galaxies and other gimcracks, according to Elba Benzler of Get Bold Events, a Battle Ground nonprofit organization that stages athletic events for charity. Oktoberfest has been a fun event for years, featuring German music, food and the mandatory lederhosen, he said, but turnout has been less than superheroic. Get Bold heard from the Downtown Washougal Association, looking for a new way — a racing way — to raise Oktoberfest’s profile, he said.

Benzler brainstormed. An Oktoberfest-themed run? He had a hard time picturing runners in track shoes, Bavarian shorts and little green alpine hats — but, he realized, the other season getting underway as summer turns to fall is Halloween, the season of costumes.

“Who doesn’t love superheroes?” he realized. “Superheroes and supervillains are so much fun.”

Saturday night strive

Unlike most road races, this one is a late-afternoon-into-evening event. (Nighttime is when the bad guys come out, of course, so that’s when superheroes are needed.) Start time for adults is 5 p.m. sharp at Pendleton Woolen Mills; the route heads south via the underpass to Steamboat Landing and then veers east along the dike trail through Captain William Clark Park, where each 5K relay runner will loop around and head back; solo 10K runners proceed to the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge before turning around.

“It’s a beautiful route out there,” Benzler said.

At 7 p.m., miniature superheroes (12 and under) get their turn; their 1K course also heads below the underpass, zigzags, joins the dike trail — and then turns around pretty quickly. Parents will have no problem watching their kids run, Benzler said.

And, after all that, head on up to Oktoberfest in Reflection Plaza, just a block to the north of Pendleton Woolen Mills. If you’ve paid to participate in the Superhero run, your admission to Oktoberfest and its beer garden are included — and you get a commemorative mug. If not, admission to Oktoberfest is $13 with beer garden or $5 without. Kids are welcome until 8 p.m.

And, if zooming around in tights holds no appeal for you — while lederhosen, live music and German beer sound superheroic — you can skip the race and just enjoy Oktoberfest, which is open from 4 to 10 p.m. both Sept. 29 and 30. Oktoberfest also raises money for charity, including Columbia Gorge fire relief efforts.