As a runner, sometimes it is hard to just stop and enjoy a race. Don’t get me wrong, I love running and I love racing – but at times I am so focused on running that I don’t get to enjoy the course or experience as much as I should. At the 2016 Willamette Mission Trail Challenge, I got to do just that.
This event is (sadly) the last event on Run Wild Adventures‘ Fall and Winter race calendar, and one that I always make a point to attend. Not only is the starting line mere miles from my front door, but it also lets me harken back on all the great “off-season” events that I participated in with RWA. In 2015, I only missed out on Shellburg Falls (in December) and Buck Mountain Mudslinger (in February). I was able to experience:
- Detroit Lake Mud Run (2016 registration is open!)
- Silver Falls 7-miler
- Hangover Run
- Vortex Half Marathon
As the Willamette Mission Trail Challenge was the day before my 2nd ever marathon, I was committed to taking it slow and easy. The last thing I needed was a rolled ankle or twisted knee 24-hours before 26.2 miles. The morning was beautiful and Gary (owner of RWA) was doing his thing with the music and announcing. RWA puts on such great events across the board, it’s sad that this race specifically is the one that sees the lowest numbers. I chalk it up to the fact that once April hits, people have any number of 20+ races each weekend to pick and choose from. It’s a shame to think that more people don’t come out and give this one a shot.
But this also means that the trails are a little quieter on race day. I ran this event in 2015 and had this to say:
My participation in 2013 and this year  provided a dry and sure-footed atmosphere, with only a few sections of mud along the way.
While this year’s event was filled with bright blue skies, the wet winter actually provided significant mud – for really the first time in recent memory. Within the first 200 yards, the narrow starting trails were made a little more congested due to people trying not to get their feet soaked with still 3-6 miles to go. As we headed under the tree canopy, there were multiple big mud areas that necessitated muddy shoes. I even saw one gentleman fall trying to navigate one such area. It’s not a true trail race until someone splats in the mud, right?!
Personally, I was just keeping a nice and easy pace and stopped to take a lot of pictures. I jumped up on hills to take panoramas and took pictures and walked / waded without concern ankle-deep in mud just because I could. I have participated in this race at least 4 times now and it was fun to not even care about my time and just enjoy the weather, the trails, and being outside in nature – something that I have missed with all this wet weather.
Following the race, there was Seven Brides beer, homemade soup and Great Harvest Bread, as well as a solid raffle to finish off the race series. I’m pretty sure everyone went home happy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – RWA is great and this race is a perfect combination of trail running, beautiful location, and low-key (yet competitive) atmosphere. Not to mention that it’s typically only $20 or $25.
For those who ran, photos can be purchased here (only .99 for a digital copy) and results can be found here.
See you in October RWA (October 8 to be exact)!