Race Preview: The Inferno comes to Salem on August 30

Summer running typically consists of two things: relay races and obstacle runs. While there have been recent negative developments by certain obstacle course races and companies shutting down races, going out of business, and not offering refunds, The Inferno appears to be one that is still relatively small enough to put on a quality event for those seeking out just a little bit more, without sacrificing quality or in it for a quick money grab one city after another (as many appear to be doing). I have seen the Inferno people at a variety of local events (First Thursday Adventure Runs and the Race Center Event Expo to name a few), so they are doing their best to prove that they are not a faceless corporation.

The Inferno is in its second year, and while the general feel and difficulty is still the same, they have a few changes waiting for participants as well.  The event still considers mud to NOT be an obstacle and participants will not be expected to wade through a pool of slop as part of their race. The race also continues to be challenging in its length. This race is not necessarily for the person just rolling off the couch looking to run through some foam or some bubbles. This 13.1 mile race will feature 25+ obstacles, as well as a swim portion. It’s not for the feint of heart. New for 2014 will be a shorter 6 mile distance (with 15+ obstacles and the swim), but should still prove to be difficult.

The location for the event is moving from the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem to the rolling countryside in the hills of West Salem. Those who have run the Zena Road Runs will be familiar with the general area. There will be heats (of 125 participants) beginning at 8:45 for both distances with a couple competitive heats preceding them for those super athletes. The race has a few new obstacles up their sleeves, though they are not divulging all their plans. There will be 4 aid stations spread out around the course, each about 3 miles apart.

You’ll climb hills, haul sandbags, flip tires, climb ropes and walls, traverse monkey bars, and now SWIM your way to the finish line!

They even have something called the “Golden Tire Award” which makes me exhausted just sitting her thinking about it. In 2013, two runners ran the entire course carrying a tire. Yeah, that’s right – all 13.1 miles with a tire. Sheesh. That’s a whole new level of crazy right there!

One thing that seems simple, yet isn’t always the case with obstacle races, is that spectators can watch for free. They will still have to pay to park, but at least aren’t being charged money to come watch you bust your butt. Following the race, all 21+ will be able to purchase food and libations (cash only), but all will be able to relax and take in some live music.


Please note that there is a little bummer that all participants must purchase mandatory insurance of $10 when registering and a $6+ processing fee. I’m pretty sure that this is something that occurs across the board for pretty much all obstacle course races, so I don’t think it’s specific to this specific race. However, a little birdie mentioned to Run Oregon that if you use code REAPER14, you can save $30 when registering! So just for reference sake, when I created a mock registration, the total cost came to $85.59 for the 13.1 distance and $74.91 for the 6-miler (plus $10 for parking – make sure you carpool).

If adventure or obstacle races have got you down recently, and you are still craving one for this summer, maybe this will be the right one to fill you up!


The Inferno (Salem)
When: Competitive Heats at 8:15a and 8:30a; Open Heats at 8:45a -10:30a
Where: 5560 Zena Rd in West Salem (Across from Zenith Vineyards)
Register: Online here; $99 for Half, $89 for 6-miler; Prices go up $10 after 8/15; Includes shirt; ALSO, there is a required insurance purchase of $10 and parking is $10

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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