Run to the Top: A Run Oregon preview of the inaugural Black Butte Challenge this upcoming September

If you have driven to Bend/Redmond from the valley ever, you have seen Black Butte – that rolling “hill” amongst the snowy majestic peaks. It seems so attainable (and is relatively accessible during the summer months), yet there’s definitely a different experience when tackling the entire climb yourself compared to driving your car the majority of the year.This year, the Sisters Kiwanis is organizing a 10K Run to the top of that “hill” – The Black Butte Challenge on Saturday, September 19, 2015.

Black Butte is actually a stratovolcano 5.5 miles west of Sisters in the Deschutes National Forest. For those of you who may have hiked up there before, you can attest to amazing views of Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, The Sisters, and Mt. Washington – and this race course will allow for views of all three as you wrap around the butte.

Map from

The race will start near Camp Sherman Road 14/Hwy 20.  Be ready for a challenge, as there will be 3200 feet of elevation gain along the 6+ mile course. It begins out nearly level/slightly downhill for the first two miles before climbing steadily (and by steadily, I mean 3200 feet of gain) for the last four miles. There will be an Aid Station just after the 4 mile mark, which I am sure will be a welcome treat. The trail is described by race directors as “runnable”, but participants should be prepared for some small technical sections that include roots and small boulders.

As this is backcountry Oregon, there is very limited parking at the start. Shuttles will be on hand to transport runners to and from the parking lots at Black Butte Ranch. Following the race, there will be an after-party barbecue at the Camp Sherman Store (free for runners and $7.50 for non-runners). Due to trail reasons, the field is required to be limited, and registration will close after 200 runners. Proceeds from the race will support the Sisters Kiwanis Club scholarships and community service projects.

Black Butte Challenge (Sisters area)

When: September 19, 2015

Where: Black Butte Ranch / Camp Sherman Road

Register: Online here; $45 includes shirt ($60 after 8/18/15)


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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