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Race Preview: 2015 Zena Road Runs

The Zena Road Runs (15k, 6m, and 3m) are back again for their 47th annual running (yes 47!) in the West Salem hills on Sunday, February 1, 2014. I personally feel that this long running race in the winery filled hills of the Willamette Valley is one of those bucket-list races that everyone should participate in. It's beautiful, challenging, has a local feel to it, and - unlike many bucket-list races - it is very  inexpensive,

Not much has changed over the past half-century. All races begin and end at the Spring Valley Community Center. The 3 miler and 6 miler are both out-and-backs that start at the community center and head south along Spring Valley Road. While these courses are straight forward, it is good to note that there are some challenging rolling hills along the way.

Speaking of rolling hills, the 15k also has it’s fair share of climbs (and thus declines as well). My 15k recap of the 2014 event was Super Bowl themed. Here is an excerpt from my experience (just as reference, I was pretending that my recap was a transcription of the Super Bowl media crew “announcing” and “analyzing” the race):

Erin: Thanks Joe. I’m over here at the Spring Valley Community Center in Salem. The weather at race time today is overcast, but pretty ideal for the 319 runners who are participating today. The line of cars parked along the road are too numerous to count and the busses shuttling runners are packed to the brim. By my count there are 93 runners heading north for the 15k, and another 226 runners heading south for the 6 mile and 3 mile runs (95 and 131 respectively). And they are off!

Top of the first 1/3 mile climb. Pacing was crucial! - Photo courtesy of Matt Rasmussen

Top of the first 1/3 mile climb. Pacing was crucial!
– Photo courtesy of Matt Rasmussen

Joe: Thanks Erin. Troy, from the looks of the courses, it appears that the 15k runners will face an uphill battle.

Troy: That’s correct Joe, especially over the first 3 miles. It is this challenge that each runner will have to figure out how to overcome. From the looks of things, there are quite a few deciding to tackle this incline with full force, in an effort to separate themselves from the pack.

My recap was a personal take on humor, so I recommend checking it out to get an idea of the run (as well as my possible lame attempt at humor). The 15k is a big loop in the quiet and secluded hills. It passes 5 wineries along the way and is really peaceful and serene. The course is about 80% paved, but there is a solid section of dirt/rock road that adds to the challenge as well. I love this quote from our blogger Brian’s 2012 recap of the event, he stated that “The 15K made the term ‘rolling hills’ an overt threat as the first 3 miles were practically all uphill.” 

15k runners beginning the incline at the 2013 Zena Road Runs. - Photo by Mick Evans at

15k runners beginning the incline at the 2013 Zena Road Runs.
– Photo by Mick Evans at

Note that parking is always a challenge and it is guaranteed that cars will line the road, so plan your trip accordingly. They have started providing shuttles available from the nearby Noble Mountain Tree Farm in an effort to avoid runners from needing to hike just to get to the start line.

Follow the race on Facebook for some updates. Prices increase on January 2, so even though the race is cheap, save yourself some money by registering early nonetheless.

Zena Road Runs 15k, 6-Miler and 3-Miler (15k, 6m, and 3m)Salem)
When: 11a
Where: Spring Valley Community Center
Register: Online registration or mail-in is open through. $15 through 1/2/15, $20 from 1/3-1/29, $25 DOR; $25 for long-sleeve tech shirt (must register by 1/16 for shirt).

About Matt Rasmussen (1532 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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