I’ve heard nothing but a tremendous amount of oozing positivity surrounding the Ridgeline Ramble race. Of course, hearing so many great things about this race, my expectations for a stellar event were sky high. This year was the 9th annual occurrence of the event, too – not a lot of races can say they have stuck around for so long in this competitive market of races.
During the week leading up to the race, I spoke with a couple colleagues at work about the event. They knew all about it, and were seriously bumming that they had not registered. Thankfully, there was still time (you need to register in advance for this event, no race day registration due to shuttling to respective start lines) and everyone was able to get registered. Everyone I knew was racing in the 20k individual event or 20k relay, so I was the lone ranger that would be on the course for the 10k amongst my friends.
Also to note, new this year, the course was altered to incorporate the Dillard Connector Trail to the Mt. Baldy Trailhead. This eliminated the need to run along Dillard Road. That being said, everyone would be setting new PR’s on this course and new course records would be established.
Packet pick-up and parking was located at Lane Community College in south Eugene, just off I-5. It was a breeze to get there and secure a parking spot. Packet pick-up lines were short as the 20k individual and relay leg one participants were boarding their shuttles to get to the Blanton Road Trailhead, which was their start line. While waiting with other 10k participants (and relay leg two runners) to board our shuttle at 8:00 a.m., I met some awesome runners who were also new to this race. Whew, I wasn’t the only one that was a newbie to the Ridgeline Ramble.
The shuttles left promptly and we soon arrived at our start line, which was the Fox Hollow Trailhead. Living in Eugene, I had not explored any of this area before, so the entire course (as well as the race) was going to be new for me. The first place relay personal ran through the trailhead and made their exchange prior to the 10k’s 8:30 a.m. start. Wow, fast runners!
After the exchange, the horn blew and the 10k racers were off to tackle the course. We started on road and quickly transitioned to single track trails. After passing aid station one, we began the climb on Mt. Baldy. Mt. Baldy is steep! I wasn’t expecting it to be as steep as it felt! After getting to the top of Mt. Baldy, I had to stop and take some pictures; the view was stunning.
Coming off the trails of Mt. Baldy, aid station 2 awaited us. After passing this aid station, we ran on roads in the Spring Blvd. area neighborhood for approximately 1.3 miles. This is where I wish I could finish writing, as the remainder of the race didn’t go as planned for me.
Running through the beautiful Spring Blvd. neighborhood was nice. I call this type of race a hybrid trail race, as there is a fairly significant amount of time spent running on pavement. I was able to make up some lost time on this section of the course from making my stop atop Mt. Baldy for the view and pictures. After awhile of running, I saw a ‘pop-up aid station’, the type where a friendly fellow-runner who lives in the neighborhood sets up for folks to serve themselves. (Later I found out this may have been the official aid station 3). Not an official aid station, but a pleasant surprise and much appreciated aid station. So, I passed this aid station, and followed the 20+ runners that where dispersed in front of me. They all went straight, and I followed them down the hill onto Agate St. There was no indication on the road, or other course markings, that all of us were going to wrong direction. At the bottom of Agate Street, which, I should note, is a very steep hill, a person in a vehicle was coming down the road honking at all of us. I stopped to find out what was going on. She indicated we were all off course and going the wrong direction. The wrong direction!?!? This has never happened to me before, so I didn’t know how to take the news at first. Do I believe them? We all couldn’t have went off course, right?
Some of the fast 20k runners and second leg relay participants were starting to come back up the hill. They indicated that indeed, we were off course, as they had participated in the event in the past. I couldn’t believe it, I was on pace to get top three in my age group, and now this?!
A group of about 6 of us walked up the Agate Street hill together to find out where the course was actually supposed to be. Soon enough, we saw runners turning off of Spring Blvd. and onto 30th/Firland Blvd area.
Knowing that my time was shattered, I took the remainder of the course easy, and just had fun. There was a faint hint of pavement marking on the course after we were supposed to have already made the turn off of Spring Blvd. Oh well, I am thankful the nice person in the car got our group back on the right course to finish, and we weren’t lost.
Soon, we were off the pavement and back on a wide, gravel/dirt road to begin our journey back to Lane Community College. This road turned back into pavement shortly as it took us onto the Lane Community College grounds. Running on the side of the road, there were arrows pointing us into the “nature trail” area, which finished out the last portion of trail to get us to the finish line.
Crossing the finish line, I was relieved to be finished. I was thankful to not have been lost. And I was seriously bumming about my slow time due to getting off course. Post race food and festivities were in full swing (great post race food), and I chatted with some fellow 10k’ers that I met prior to the race. Everyone had a great time and spoke of how challenging the course was (I think the climb at Mt. Baldy surprised a lot of people that were new to this race). Aid stations were stocked well and volunteers along the course were cheery, friendly and helpful.
I will definitely be back to tackle this race next year, not only to get a better time, but also to not get lost, as I know the course now. And, I want to get a top three in my age group on this course! I learned so much at this race, it was a very humbling moment for me, as my game plan was not executed at all (almost from start to finish).
The Ridgeline Ramble was race three of six in the Run Big Trail Series (RBTS), by Level 32 Racing. Next up on the RBTS schedule is the Hardesty Hardcore 14-miler and 5.5-miler, occurring on Saturday, September 5, 2015 in Oakridge, Oregon. I hope see you there!!!!