Happy Girls Half Marathon makes its debut in Bend

By Bill Bigelow / The Bulletin

They suspected it would be a hit, but organizers of the inaugural Happy Girls Half Marathon appear to have socked a home run.

Maybe even a grand slam.

“It's definitely exceeded all our expectations,” admitted Gina Miller, marketing and sports events director with Lay It Out Events, the Central Oregon company putting on this weekend's Happy Girls running events in Bend.

The featured race is Sunday's half marathon, a 13.1-mile race that will start and finish at Riverbend Park, off Colorado Avenue along the Deschutes River. Miller said a registration limit for the half marathon (including a relay division) was set, optimistically, at 1,000.

That limit, she said Monday, was reached last week.

We're pretty happy about that,” Miller beamed.

She noted that the Happy Girls Half no doubt would have attracted even more runners, but raising the entry ceiling was not an option.

“As a first-time event, we had to set a limit,” she said. “And we have a thousand sterling silver necklaces (for finishers of the half marathon), and we wanted to be sure that every woman who finishes gets one of those necklaces.”

In conjunction with the Happy Girls Half, which is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., a 5-kilometer race is set for Sunday starting at 10 a.m. (Registration is still open for the 5K.) Also, highlighting Saturday's Happy Girls activities, a race for youngsters billed as the Happy Little Girls Run will be staged. The kids race, with age-appropriate distances, is for ages 3 through 10 and is set to start at 1:30 p.m.

Like the half marathon, the 5K and kids races will start and finish at Riverbend Park. An expo, featuring vendors, activities and entertainment, will run at the park throughout both days of the Happy Girls event.

“One of the things we tried to do is make it all-inclusive,” said Miller. That includes men — husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends are all allowed to participate in the Happy Girls races. Miller noted, however, that probably 98 percent of entries received have been from women.

“Maybe,” she added, “even 99 percent.”

Happy Girls Schedule

Start/finish area for all races is at Riverbend Park

Saturday, May 28

10 a.m. — Pre-race expo, late registration and packet pick-up (including Happy Little Girls packet pick-up)

1 p.m. — Late registration for Happy Little Girls Runs closes

1:30 p.m. — Happy Little girls 1.5K Run starts

4 p.m. — Expo closes

Sunday, May 29

7 a.m. — Late packet pick-up opens

8 a.m. — Pre-race warm-up activities

9 a.m. — Happy Girls Half Marathon starts (individuals and relays)

9 a.m. — Post-race expo and finish-line activities get under way

10 a.m. — Happy Girls 5K Run starts

10:30 a.m. — First finishers expected

2 p.m. — Post-race expo and finish-line activities conclude