The 37th annual Troutdale Trot took place on Saturday, May 10th, and once again proved to be one of the Portland area’s best-kept running secrets. Usually falling on the same day as the Lake Run and the Hippie Chick races, this 6.7 mile loop through Troutdale and along the Sandy River often gets overlooked, but it still perseveres and thrives in its 4th decade.
I have run this race at least three times now, in 1997 and 1988 in addition to Saturday, and although the race is about 3.6 miles longer than my best distance, I still love the course. Starting on the road in front of Glenn Otto Park, the race begins with a few blocks of flat before turning uphill into historic Troutdale. Two blocks later, runners take a sharp left and head up what one of my friends called a “sledding hill”. These two blocks head straight up and it feels like you might be in danger of scraping your nose on the pavement it’s so steep.
After chop-stepping your way up that incline, the course turns left and levels off a little, offering some temporary relief. But runners continue climbing for at least another half-mile along the wooded bluff at the edge of town. Once it reaches the top of the hill, the course runs flat for a couple miles on main streets through town, and it seemed like the entire Troutdale police force was out monitoring the busier intersections. Someone joked that that morning would have been the perfect time to rob the 7-Eleven (and run like you stole something?) [Note – Run Oregon does not condone robbery – or any other crime! Besides, running is a wholesome activity that keeps kids off the streets, metaphorically speaking of course.]
Around the 3-mile mark, the course begins a rapid descent down Stark St. toward the Sandy River. Good downhill runners can put in a very fast fourth mile at this point, or if you’re like me you can use this section to catch your breath and brace yourself for the final couple miles, while being thankful you’re not one of the unfortunate cyclists we passed riding UP the hill!
The overcast and slight drizzle was a welcome contrast to the warm sunny day I remember from one of my previous Trots, and the lush spring foliage and occasional small waterfall created a nice backdrop to my efforts.
Upon crossing the Stark St. bridge at the bottom of the hill, runners take a left onto the Historic Highway, and begin the last section of the course, running downstream beside the Sandy for the last 2.5 miles.
While all the other cyclists I passed were friendly or concentrating on the task at hand, I did encounter one sourpuss around the 6-mile mark who swore at me, even after I carefully moved aside in plenty of time and gave him a wide berth. Apparently he would have preferred that I ran in the loose gravel, mud, and road gunk inside the fog line, rather than see there were no cars approaching and safely move toward the centerline and give us both wide expanses of clear pavement.
After exchanging “pleasantries” with the grumpy cyclist, I regained my breath and pushed it in for the final half-mile, taking a left over the bridge near the park, and crossing the line next to the parking lot.
In addition to the 6.7-mile run, there was a walking division, a Magical Mile for kids, and a Turtle Trot for ages 5 and under. A non-scientific observation made me think there were probably around three times as many walkers as runners, and the scenic course lends itself well to a fun stroll on a spring morning.
Afterward, runners gathered for bananas, muffins, oranges, coffee, awards, and a prize drawing in the community center.
Despite being overshadowed by bigger races, the venerable Troutdale Trot with its unique course and friendly volunteers is a highly recommended highlight of the local racing calendar.