Racemaker: Mount Angel’s Matt Bauman

August 2015 Posted in Other, Sports
Matt Bauman organizes dozens of  running events through his company, Race Northwest.

Matt Bauman organizes dozens of running events through his company, Race Northwest.

By Steve Ritchie

When Chris Bischoff and the Oktoberfest board wanted to add a half marathon race to this year’s Oktoberfest activities,w they didn’t have to look far to find the right person to organize the event.

Mount Angel native Matt Bauman helps put on more than 30 races annually through his Race Northwest business, and he and his wife Sarah have grown the Oktoberfest Road Race into one of the most successful runs in the Mid-Valley.

“Oktoberfest approached Sarah and I about doing something special for their 50th anniversary,” Matt said. “They asked if we would be interested in adding the half-marathon to the 5K and 10K races. . . we thought that would be good to do for the 50th. We definitely didn’t want to put on a marathon, but thought expanding the 10K would be a good family-oriented event.”

The Baumans’ success with the Oktoberfest Road Race gave Matt confidence he could add the longer race and avoid the logistic glitches that plagued last year’s Oregon Marathon at the festival, a race that was staged by Uberthons.

Ironically, 12 years ago Bauman took over a floundering 10-mile Oktoberfest run that was also organized by an out-of-town group.

Oktoberfest races

Half Marathon entry fee:
$65 Deadline to sign up: Sept. 7
Participants receive a technical T-shirt,
a commemorative beer glass with the 2015
race logo as well as the festival logo,
a complimentary beer at the Prostgarten,
and entry to the Weingarten and
Biergarten on Saturday.
5K and 10K runs entry fee: $25
Pre-registration deadline: Sept. 16
Participants over 21 receive
a complimentary beer.

More information on all three
races is available at their website.

“I had participated in the Oktoberfest road race for a few years,” Bauman recalled, “and I didn’t really like the way that race was being organized. So I approached Jerry Lauzon and made a proposal that I thought would be a better way of doing things. He wasn’t thrilled with having out-of-towners organizing the event, so he gave me a shot at it. I kind of just jumped in and tried to figure it out. That was the start.

“Our first year was about 105 runners and it has grown to be consistently around 850 runners. I’d like to see the half marathon get about 300 runners which might bring the total (for all three races) to closer to 1,000.”

Propelled by his Oktoberfest success, Bauman started a part-time business, Race Northwest, which contracts with local race organizers to provide race timing, results and other services. Race Northwest also stages several races, including “Run for Your Nuts” 5K race at the Hazelnut Festival and the Wurst Fest 5K.

Support from family and friends has helped the fledgling business a lot. Bauman often has two or three races in different locations in a single weekend, and he relies heavily on Sarah and his sister-in-law Andrea Belleque, as well as his parents, in-laws, sisters and extended family to help do the computerized timing and other race services. Friends from Matt and Sarah’s dance group, the Kleinstadlers, have also chipped in at times.

“I was up to about 40 (races per year),” Bauman said. “I have it down to about 30 now for my sanity and my family’s sanity.”

While some of the details of the new half marathon are still being worked out, Bauman says the course will not cross Highway 214, which caused problems last year for people trying to get to the festival. And, he says, it will be scenic and runner-friendly.

The start and finish will be at Humpert Park for all three races, with the half-marathon starting at 8 am and the 5K and 10K at 9 am.

While admitting that the racing business can make life hectic at times, Bauman finds a lot of rewards in the work.

“Mainly the comments from people, like how much fun they had and how much they enjoyed coming to the event. . . they like a well-marked course, a well-run event, and to see their finish times and places pretty quickly after the race.”

It is also a way for Matt and Sarah to give back to the community.

“We partner with community organizations that help us (at races). For example, Littlest Angel Preschool and the JFK cross country team have received support.

“We have also staged the Canby Fun Run for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life – we have given them thousands of dollars over the past six years after my wife’s young cousin was diagnosed with leukemia.”

Sarah adds that the Oktoberfest Road Run is one of her favorite races of the year. “I just enjoy that it is another part of Oktoberfest that we can be involved in,” she said. “It helps draw in more people to spend the day at the festival after the races are over. And I like seeing many of the same friendly people each year at the race.”

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