Typically, by this time of the year, if you hadn’t already signed up for the ORRC Hagg Lake 25k/50k, you’d be out of luck. But this year, there is no participant cap – so if you have been looking for a real mud run, you’re in luck. Forget cheesy barriers and purposeless pits of opaque water: the Hagg Lake Ultras are known informally as “Hagg Mud” for a reason. The course is notoriously muddy, and difficult – no obstacles required!
By many accounts, there are at least three different types of mud at Hagg Lake:
- Viscous slime: This mud can be found on both inclines and declines, as well as the sides of ruts carved by the wheels of mountain bikes. The best way to travel though this type of mud is to have faith in your trail shoes and just keep moving. A slight forward lean will motivate you to time your footfalls so that you remain relatively upright through this type of mud.
- “That’s not chocolate:” Artfully applied to a cupcake, this type of mud may fool you into thinking it’s edible … but don’t eat it. “Chocolate” mud is sticky, heavy, and cakes onto your shoes (and any other gear with which it comes into contact) like a hipster looking for a free ride to Portland. On the trail around Hagg Lake, this mud is found pretty much anywhere that you thought you’d have the chance to pick up the pace. The best way to keep traveling light is to do your best and, from time to time, wipe some of that frosting off with your hand, a stick, or your unsuspecting running buddy’s pants.
- Shoe-sucking muck: This heartless quagmire is not very common in many places, but Hagg Lake isn’t like many places. There’s one particular stretch in between the final aid station and the finish line that the quality of this shoe-sucking muck is particularly impressive. The best advice that can be given is to make sure your shoes are on tight or to wear gaiters for an extra layer of protection. This mud is the reason that many participants “retire” their shoes after this run.
There are probably more categories into which the special mud at Hagg Lake fall under, but I’ll leave that classification up to you. There’s even a chance that one of the varieties, when applied to your cheeks, will open up your pores and give you a fresh, youthful glow … but only those lucky enough to fall face-first will receive that benefit.
2017 Hagg Lake 50k
When: Saturday, February 18
What time: 7a
There is a cut-off time; participants must be through the start/finish aid station by noon to continue on course. Runners will pass through five aid stations on the course over the entire 31 miles, and for this reason are encouraged to pack their own hydration and nutrition. Dress for the weather, considering it’s usually 5-10 degrees cooler at Hagg Lake than in the Portland Metro area. Drop bags can be left at the start/finish and accessed after the first loop; crews will be able to offer support at each aid station as well.
2017 Hagg Lake 25k
When: Sunday, February 19
What time: 9a
There are two aid stations on course, so again, run prepared with your own snacks. Crews are also able to see their runner at aid stations.
Finally, if you’re running at this race, bring plenty of warm clothes into which you can change at the finish line. There will be plenty of hot soup and food at the finish area, and you couldn’t hope to meet a more cheerful batch of muddy people anywhere else in Oregon.
This post was originally written for the not-yet-out ORRC Magazine, The Oregon Distance Runner. I was the race director for the ORRC Hagg Mud Runs for six years (2009-2015).