My third attempt at Oregon this year finally succeeded. The first attempt (the Bend Marathon) I missed due to weather related flight delays. Just as well, since apparently the course was short this year and it would have been a long training run. Second attempt was Crater Lake. Fun fact: Portland is no where near Crater Lake, and as I creep up on 40 it becomes less and less likely I’ll be able to work all day, take a transcontinental flight, and drive all night to make a 5am shuttle bus. So instead I passed up the Woodstock themed Michigan race I had planned for this weekend, and came to GoBeyond’s NUT 50k. A trail 50k on the North Umpqua River Trail, near Crater Lake. I flew into Eugene this time so I would be much closer, but still had a 3 hour drive to the start.
I arrived at the finish to be bussed to the 50k start and began introducing myself to the two dogs that were with the others at the KOA campsite that serves as the finish area and overnight camping location for many participants. Note to self: if you do this race. Camp here overnight. Seriously. DO EET!
Bussed to the start we all gathered around and got our bib, used the port-o-lets, and had hot coffee. Note to self: These are my kind of people. A quick word about GoBeyond, they are an Oregon area race organization about trail running. They do trail running right by keeping the trail clean encouraging runners to be respectful of nature. Their races are cupless (they provided reusable camp mugs for the coffee) and their volunteers are great. The course, we were warned was “bruteiful.” There’s a reason the 50k is worth 2 points for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, and their 100k is worth 4. This race had more than a mile of climbing over the 50k, but constant up and down over rocky, craggy, often wet areas.
That said it was the most beautiful trail course I’ve ever seen. Trail in South Florida usually amounts to nothing more than swamp, or maybe a sparsely populated forest. That’s nice and all, but damn once you’ve seen mountains, waterfalls, old growth forests, and giant boulders most of Florida’s trails seem sad.
For the first 12 or so miles I settled in with Sean a Washington resident. We chit chatted, but I admitted I was probably going out to fast (I was) but there was one cutoff on the course, and I wanted to make damn sure I was on the proper side of the clock. It turns out I beat that cutoff by more than an hour and a half. From then on I was enjoying the day. I ran where I could, but PF pain started acting up and there was the bonkage associated with my early miles to contend with.
Aid stations were staffed with goofy folks who took my strange sense of humor mostly in stride. I had a couple more conversations. Matt, an older guy from Salem and I talked a bit about life, bears, and trails. In the end he left me in the dust. I have to admit the last few miles in particular were dishearting since my watch had long ago reported that I’d done 50k. I felt like the course was never-ending and in the last quarter mile took a wrong turn into a parking lot, whoops.
Ultimately when I had finished at about 9:30 I found Sean, Matt, and most of the other folks with whom I’d shared a few miles relaxing around the firepit (not yet lit thankfully I wasn’t that late). In the end I have run 50 milers almost as fast, but I didn’t feel bad at all. I was happy to be finished, but more than that I was happy to have been able to just go out and goof off on the trails. As much as I’ve fretted about performing poorly, scratching races, and the like of late. This was a little taste of what brought me to this in the first place. I just had fun. Even though my back was killing me from hunching over climbing hills, and my feet were sore, and I was sweaty and gross, and smelled bad and had scratches on my legs I got to be out in nature and have fun doing hard stuff. Hopefully this is how Seth got his groove back. Next week: Another trail race, the Jones Gap Marathon in Marietta, South Carolina. From what I can tell of this video there’s some great waterfall crossing stuff going on.
Fun Fact: In the small hours of August 7, 1959, a building supply company in Roseberg caught fire. Parked in front of the building was a Pacific Powder Company truck loaded with 2 tons of dynamite, and 4.5 tons of blasting caps. The result, known simply as “The Blast,” destroyed 8 city blocks, killed 14, and injured more than 120.