Make a Day of It: Running with the horses at Odysseo by Cavalia

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience!

The next installment of this series is Odysseo by Cavalia!

First the running:

For those of you who are not familiar with Zidell Yards in South Waterfront, I like to describe it as “that big open patch of land near the OHSU tram”. Most people then know what I am talking about. This just happens to be one of the best places to run in the city, in my opinion. Sure there are some more beautiful and secluded areas, but this location has the ease and accessibility to get to wherever you want to go.

If I were you, I would recommend getting there really early and securing a parking space far in advance, perhaps at a nearby paid location, and getting in a run beforehand. Then its up to you where you want to go:

  • Waterfront Loop
    • You can extend your distance by going to the newly opened Sellwood Bridge and heading back on the Springwater Trail.
  • Springwater Trail
    • Maybe you want to bypass downtown and head further east on Springwater. Crossing the Sellwood Bridge will drop you off right at the trail. You will need to navigate a few city streets before connecting with the looped trail a little further east.
  • Tryon Creek State Park
    • If you are looking for trails, consider running here – which is only a 15 minute drive from the show location.
  • Duniway Park
    • Just a hop, skip, and a jump west of the big tent, you can do some interval and track work beforehand
  • Terwilliger, Marquam Nature Park…and beyond
    • If you head just a little further west from Duniway Park, you will hit Sam Jackson Park Road and Terwilliger Boulevard. You may take some initial hills to climb up Terwilliger, but with trails leading into Marquam Park and connecting all over the place, you can get wherever you want!

As you can see, the location of Cavalia is central to a verifiable smorgasbord of running awesomeness.

Now to the details to the experience itself:

Odysseo is described as:

[…] the company’s second production that has been touring under the world’s largest big top since fall 2011. Odysseo is a veritable revolution in live performance.

Known as the world’s largest touring production, Odysseo marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels. This larger-than-life show sends hearts racing, but it is also a feast for the eyes that succeeds in delivering the spectacular with soul. Audiences of all ages are rediscovering with emotions the century-old relationship between human and horse. As friends, partners and inseparable performers on stage, 65 horses and 45 artists lead the spectator on a great journey in a world of dreams where, together, they discover some of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes.

Beyond the impressive technical display and equestrian and acrobatic numbers that are unlike anything ever seen on stage, Odysseo is first and foremost a work that feeds the soul. The poetry flowing from this grand adventure shines a light on a more humane world where human and horse may live in harmony.

It’s hard to do a much better job at describing the Odysseo experience any better.

We were very excited to be allowed to take in the opening night (last night) at Zidell Yards as media members. Billboards have been popping up with more and more frequency over the past few weeks and it got our intrigue rising. While the evening was a little soggy from a mid-summer rain storm, inside was warm and dry. We were shocked by just how big the tent was (though I should have known as I knew they said it was larger than a football field. We got there about an hour early

UntitledTraffic looks like it can be sort of a nightmare, though traffic controllers were doing a pretty admirable job. I believe parking opens up about 90 minutes prior to the show, and can be purchased in advance for $10. We ended up eating at Elephants Deli on Corbett beforehand, so we just decided to leave our car there for the evening and took a Lyft to the tent. I would highly recommend this route or utilizing public transportation if at all possible.

The first step inside of the tent is a little cramped, with ticket pick-up being really close to the doors. With warm weather expected through the rest of the summer, I can’t imagine this would be a big deal. But, on days like yesterday with a little precipitation, it would be more of a challenge. There are a few areas to purchase show gear (programs, pictures, stuffed horses, etc) and a small concessions area and beer/wine booth (Basecamp Brewing).

Inside the arena itself, it is set up sort of like a horseshoe (go figure). The stage itself (10,000 tons of dirt) is beautifully manicured and set up , and the inside of the tent (68,000 square feet) is beautiful as well . As the show goes on, it is pretty awe-inspiring to think about how much goes into a show of this size and the ease with which it seems to be pulled off.

I am not going to give anything away regarding the show itself, but prepare yourself for amazing acrobatics, comedy relief, oh, and incredible horseriding and training (from 68 horses and 48 performers). In fact, the amazing horse stunts and tricks are pulled off so effortlessly that it made me think that it wasn’t a challenge. But then I reminded myself that there were 30 horses on the stage at once – many without riders – and they were all on their cues at the same time.  I can’t even get my dog to fetch appropriately, and there are dozens of horses moving in unison. That’s just crazy.

– Courtesy of Cavalia

From the amazing stage, to the vivid digital background, to the live soundtrack being played, it really was a spectacle.  Not to mention the mind-bending finale that I am still confused as to how it was pulled off. The show is definitely expensive, but may be something you want to put on your to-do list this summer. I believe they last came to Portland in 2011, so it may be some time before you can experience this again.

Portland Event Dates:


  • Evenings: Tuesday – Sunday with times varying between 7-8pm
  • Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2 pm

Cost: Purchase tickets here:

  • Between $49.50 – $249.50 (plus $13 handling fees)
  • Parking fees TBD (take public transit if you can!)
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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