When Matt asked me if I’d like to run and review Run Wild Adventure’s Monument Peak 10 Mile Trail Run in Gates, Oregon, I hesitated before saying yes. The no-frills Run Wild website welcomed participants of all abilities, but it definitely had a different feel to it than your typical road race homepage. I’ve never run a true trail race before, had never done a Run Wild event, had never driven two hours each way to a race by myself, and my allergies were acting up so badly that it was hard to run and breathe at the same time and I hadn’t done any hill training recently….yet I figured even if the race was a complete disaster for me, at least it would make a good story.
I was so nervous the night before that I could barely sleep. There were campsites near the start/finish area and runners were encouraged to come camp out Friday night before the race, but I decided to drive down the morning of the race instead. Saturday morning, I woke up and hit the road a little before 6 a.m., giving myself plenty of time to park and get ready for the 9 a.m. start. The forecast predicted a mix of some rain with some intermittent sunshine. When I arrived at Santiam Horse Camp, the sky was overcast but it wasn’t raining. Because I arrived so early, there was plenty of parking available, but it filled up quickly. I headed over to the bib pickup tent and saw a bottle of Fireball Whiskey on the table, along with a stack of cups. While I decided against sipping on a little liquid courage, I did see a few runners take shots.
Just before the start, the race director made a few announcements and then we got going. The course was well marked with chalk and colored tape the entire way. The first part of the race was uphill on a gravel logging road for almost a mile, and the approximately 150 runners spread out quickly. It was fairly steep and many runners walked parts of the hill–I figured I should save my energy for later on in the race, and I’m glad I did. Miles 2 and 3 were downhill and became mostly single track trail for the majority of the rest of the race. The trails were really muddy in some spots, and looked more like a creek than a path in others. Combining that with a lot of switchbacks meant slow going even on the downhill. From mile 3 through mile 7, there was about a 1200’ elevation gain. It was more like hiking than running. At mile 5 there was an aid station with water, Heed and Hammer gels. You could also give them any gear you wanted brought back to the start/finish. I didn’t stop at the station since I wore my hydration belt. At this point in the race, everyone was so spread out that I couldn’t see any other runners around me. Although headphones were allowed, I actually ran without my music this time. Around mile 7, I was really relieved when the rest of the course was downhill, but that was short lived when I realized I had strained my left quad.
By the time I hit mile 9, I was more than ready to be done. The course had been very challenging, and I was so relieved to cross the finish line. While it was a beautiful course, I was a little discouraged to see how long it had taken me (much, much longer than I had expected
for a 10 mile race).
After the race, there was beef stew, hot cocoa,water, bread and peanut butter, and some pastries available. There was also a keg of Seven Brides Brewing beer and some bottles as well. Prizes (tree seedlings and a mini plaque) were given out to the overall top three men and women, as well as for the winner of each age division. Random other prizes such as t-shirts, hats and beer were raffled off also.
The Monument Peak 10 Mile Trail Race is a really reasonably priced, small event with a unique feel to it (registration was $18 in advance, $25 day of race; limited to 250 participants). If you’re in the Salem area, it’s worth checking out.