Race recap: 2016 ORRC Best Dam Run

Laura Morrison (PRC singlet), blogger Kelly Barten, and Nancy Fisher before the race. Photo by Abby Meek.

Despite low clouds early in the morning, the 2016 Best Dam Run was run under mainly sunny skies on Saturday, September 24. A popular race for those looking for a fast 10k, the course is primarily downhill with a very gentle decline that is almost hard to notice most of the time. There’s one uphill, which I had been told “wasn’t too bad,” but I thought it was a pretty serious hill. Even so, the final mile after the hill was primarily downhill/flat, and I ran almost a full five minutes faster than my goal time.

The course, even with the hill, is great. The quality of the course is reason enough to sign up for this race. You run along the Clackamas River and, of course, the dam on a closed road for five miles and then you run through a large parking area and up the driveway … this is the hill. From there, flaggers stop traffic so you can cross the highway and then run on the shoulder into town. It’s not an incredibly wide shoulder, so passing other participants in some places required either waiting until there were no vehicles coming from behind you or stepping into the gravel on the ditch side. The approach to town feels long but once you’re back in Estacada, it’s only three long-ish blocks and one very short block to the finish.

The view from the start of the race. Not too shabby!

The view from the start of the race. Not too shabby!

This year’s race wasn’t without problems, though. Both the walkers start and the runner’s starts, scheduled for 9:30a and 9:45a respectively, were delayed about 15 minutes. A point-to-point race, participants are shuttled to the start; the line was still long when fellow Run Oregon blogger Abby and I boarded the shuttle at 9:20a after a long wait. Porta-potty lines were also quite long at both the packet pick-up area and the starting line, but there was a porta-potty near mile 2 at the first aid station. Hopefully next year an additional bus and a few more porta-potties will alleviate both those issues.

Because the race starts on a closed road, participants are able to warm up according to their race plan. I would have liked to have heard the anthem before the start; one participant had run from the staging area carrying a flag and was going to then run the race with it, so we had everything we needed! Timing mats at the start allowed for a more relaxed start (because everyone would have an accurate start and time), so it was only crowded for the first 100 meters or so.

I use MapMyRun to track my pace and distance, but couldn’t get any bars at the start line, so I had no way to really know what pace I was running. I settled in at what I thought was a good “race pace” for me, but was still very surprised when I saw the Mile 1 marker. Another participant remarked that it was wrong; that we were only at 0.8 miles, which sounded about right to me. Still, I was shocked when, a few miles later, Abby caught up to me (she’d had to stop and tie her shoe – twice) and told me we were running close to an 8:00/mile pace. Clearly too fast for someone who was thinking their “A” goal, to run under 1 hour, was hardly attainable.

Aid station volunteers at both aid stations (near mile 2 and 5.5) were amazing. They clearly knew how to set up the station, how to hold and hand out water, and cheered runners and walkers on. Kudos to them! They were even busy cleaning up spent cups to keep the roadway clear.

If you run this race, note that when coming into town you should run on the road (it’s coned off from traffic) instead of the sidewalk. The finish line is set up mere meters from the last turn, so if you’re on the sidewalk you’ll be putting yourself at a weird angle to get over the timing mats.

There was plenty of food and a good variety at the finish line. There were water coolers set up, and mini bottles of Gatorade for participants, as well as a volunteer handing out tickets for finishers to get a beer if they wanted. Clackamas River Growlers was on-site pouring for those of legal age that were ready for a cold one, and a friendly beer garden was set up. Abby and I had a good time chatting with other participants who all seemed to agree the race was a great time.

The awards ceremony and raffle were delayed to allow all participants to finish and started off slowly. A number of people wanted to head out and were able to get their ribbons (three deep in each five-year age group) and plaques (top three overall and masters for both runners and walkers). As a race director for another ORRC event, I jumped in to help people get their awards before another very helpful participant with an impressively loud voice (for such a tiny woman) stepped up and got things moving. While waiting for the raffle to start, I got a lovely stretch from the on-site “fascial stretch therapist”, and it was awesome (thank you to Dr. Christine Powers, Hygeia Healing – visit her website to learn more; it really helped me). Finally, raffle numbers were drawn and the prizes ranged from a kid’s basket of goodies to a 24-bottle case of local beer. Unfortunately, most participants had already left; but it worked out great for those who hung around!

This is definitely a race to add to your “must run” list as it is fast and (mostly) flat. Abby’s husband chose it as his “get back into running” race after an extended hiatus from running. It’s always run on the 3rd weekend of September, a weekend traditionally blessed with clear skies, so keep an eye out on the Pacific NW Running Calendar and the ORRC website for news on the 2017 race.

2016 Best Dam Run 10k – Run top finishers:
(Click here to see full results)

Male overall: Alex Cameron, 33:21

Female overall: Karlyn Nieland, 38:37

Male masters: Dean Anderson, 37:27

Female masters: Renee Paradis, 42:07

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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