Wine-themed half marathon creates destination, hosts music festival

The Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon may be smaller than the other races across the country, but Matt Dockstader said the event Sunday has one of the most beautiful starting points.

“It’s a fantastic race,” Dockstader, president of Destination Races, said. “We usually have the perfect weather and a beautiful sunrise over Mount Hood. It’s really one of the most spectacular places to start a race.”

Participants meet at Stoller Family Estate and although the race may sound similar to the Fueled by Fine Wine marathon in July, Dockstader said it’s completely different.Photo Credit: GARY ALLEN - Wine country - Destination Races started the Wine Country Half Marathon in Oregon to expand from California. Although it doesn't sell out every year, the race attracts 2,000 runners each year. The race starts at Stoller Family Estate Aug. 31 and winds its way to Carlton.

“It’s a lot more runner friendly,” he said. “It’s rolling terrain as opposed to big hills.”

The course is still 13.1 miles, but participants can even race as a relay if they prefer. Once runners cross the finish line, they are greeted by a wine and music festival.

“There are bands playing, a couple dozen wineries from the area are set up to do wine pairings, there’s a food and beer garden, other exhibiters and an award ceremony. It’s basically a wine and music festival like you’d go to a similar wine festival but with a running theme,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. People like hanging out after a race rather than just getting their apple and bottle of water and heading home. It gives a chance to meet people.”

All seven races organized by Destination Races are structured this way, in part to create a destination atmosphere.

“About 56 percent of people are coming from out of state so we’re helping put Oregon wine country on the map a little, but in our own way,” he said.

At the same time, Dockstader said he wants to encourage local runners to participate.

“We’re trying to get Portland and other Oregon community runners interested, but there’s a lot of running events in Oregon,” he said.

This may attribute to the race not selling out so far, but he said even Oregon runners aren’t always aware of the wine country in their back door.

“Last year we had 2,000 people in it. We’re hoping for about that this year,” Dockstader said. “Napa or Sonoma are over 3,000. So it’s a little less than the other races, but we just kind of write that off to being down here.”

Participants can sign up as long as tickets are available and Dockstader said he doesn’t expect it to sell out. For more information, or to view the course, visit www.destination

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