While the changing of the weather from cool (or downright cold and miserable) winters into warmer springs and summers usually brings happiness, it always comes with a little bit of sadness for me. The turning of the page into May always means that the off-season racing of Run Wild Adventures (RWA) comes to a close with the Willamette Mission Trail Challenge.
While temperatures were downright beautiful on race day (April 29, 2017), Mother Nature was still lingering and necessitated the rerouting of the course in the week leading up to the race as the Willamette River was 12 feet above normal and wiped out any ability to safely traverse the standard route. However, you wouldn’t have been able to tell with the professionalism that RWA presented on race day. Everything, from the organization to the updated course markings, seemed to go off without a hitch.
The new course changed things from a 10k/5k into a 5.5m/3m looped course. Amazingly, this is only the 2nd time RWA has had to alter this course in 8 years, considering that this specific State Park has flooding challenges with relative consistency.
Seeing as I have run this race multiple times before (it’s less than 10 minutes from my doorstep), I was actually pretty excited to check out some different trails within the park boundaries. Runners started off with a short road section, something that was much appreciated to thin out a bunched start before heading on some bark trails. While the river was flooding, surprisingly the trails were in really good shape. For better or worse, the trails didn’t provide many sections of significant wetness, and honestly there was only about 2-3 spots that required any maneuvering at all. That’s pretty impressive.
As runners looped back around to the finish there was a little deceit, as runners needed to repeat a portion of the road section before doubling back up a small trail to the finish. Again, even despite the limited areas in which to run, Run Wild Adventures came through with ease and put on a great event. I can’t wait for their 2017-2018 season!
In a crazy reversal of roles, our 5k master Joe Dudman ran the longer distance and I stuck to the shorter one. Joe has some thoughts about the event as well.
For the second year in row, my running club, Team Red Lizard, included this race in our Summer Series, the 10K specifically. As Matt mentioned, 5Ks are more my thing, so I was actually a little pleased to hear that the revised course would be “only” 5.5 miles. But in reality, I had a fun time at last year’s 10k and was looking forward to hitting the trails again, even 6.2 miles of them. For a race that had to change the course on such short notice they handled it perfectly. I was incredibly impressed with the course management. Everything was very well marked, including “1st loop” and “2nd loop” signs for the 5.5 miler. The flour arrows and cones had to be adjusted a couple times during the race to keep runners on track for the various loops, and RWA volunteers pulled this off flawlessly, keeping confusion to a minimum. It was a perfect day weather wise, the setting is beautiful, the atmosphere was low-key and friendly, the “new” course surface was great, and the organization was impeccable. I’m hoping the Lizards will continue to feature the Willamette Mission Trail Challenge in their Summer Series for at least a few more years.