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Race Preview: 2017 Waldo 100k Trail Run/Ultramarathon (Willamette Pass Ski Area, Oregon)

I find ultramarathons and ultramarathoners totally inspiring, motivational, amazing, crazy and bad ass! I can not even comprehend running for 14+ hours at a decent pace – I mean, let’s be honest, I’m feeling like I might die after 1. The Waldo 100k Trail Run sounds incredible to me – this is no beginner level ultra here, this is a super challenging 100k loop starting at the Willamette Pass Ski Area (70 miles outside of Eugene) at 5120 feet elevation and climbs up and down several mountains all while running on a single track trail. The name of the race (which used to be the “Where’s Waldo 100k”) comes from the fact that runners can only see Waldo Lake from the high peaks of the race and at the finish but never actually arrive there. So cool!

*Please note: This race is super selective with only 175 spots. Registration is $140 plus online fee if chosen in the lottery. A lottery is held in the spring on March 1st so registration is full for 2017. Plan ahead for next year! Lottery preference is given to previous Waldo 100k Show Me the Waldo winners, elite runners with a chance to place, runners with previous Waldo 100k finishes, foreign runners and special considerations,. *

Due to the early start to the race, it is recommended that you either camp (be prepared as it can be cold in overnight/in the mornings!) or lodge near to the race start. There is a pre-race meeting at the ski area lodge on Friday at 7pm. Then get to bed early, because race start is at 3am for slower runners and 5am for the faster ones! Started in 2002, the course is traditionally a one person race but there is a newer option to do a 2 person relay – the first runner does the first 33 miles and the second runner does the remaining 29.  This race presents its racers with more than 11,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. There are three major climbs of more than 2000 feet each and two minor climbs of more than 1000 feet each. The Highest point is at 7000 feet at the top of Maiden Peak and the lowest point is at Gold Lake at about 4900 feet. The last 35 miles is in a very remote section with no roads at all – all trails, all nature, all you to power through!  There will be aid stations all along the course in varying distances, from 5 to 7.5 miles apart. Drop bag service is available at several aid stations, but other than the Waldo Lake Rd crossing at the Fuji Trailhead (mile 7.5), crew members may only provide aid to runners at aid stations. There are only 3 cutoffs: Charlton Lake (1:00 p.m), Rd 4290 (2:15 p.m.), and The Twins (4:30 p.m.).

If you have pushed through to the end, finisher hats go to those who finish before 9:00 p.m.  That is 16 hours from the 5:00 a.m. start, 18 from the 3:00 a.m. early start. If you are still standing and functioning, there is a post race BBQ that starts at 4pm and goes until the last racer crosses the finish line. There is a prize amount given out to the top female and male finishers. There are a number of other fun prizes available as well:

  • An outdoor gear prize will be awarded to the male and female to Find Waldo and finish. That is, the first runner to reach the summit of Fuji Mtn (13.7 miles into the race) where Waldo Lake can be seen for the first time. That runner must also finish the race. Early starters are not eligible for this award.
  • The Wet Waldo, which will also be an outdoor gear prize, will be given to the runner who swims in the most lakes and finishes before 9:00pm. There are six possible lakes: Charlton, Found, Maiden, N. Rosary, Middle Rosary, Lower Rosary. Early starters are eligible for this award.
  • Show us Your Waldo This subjective award is judged by the aid stations. Each aid station will get one vote for the runner who shows or has the most or best Waldo. Early starters are eligible for this award. Prize is a free entry into the next year’s race, and the crazy hat that you must return in at the next race with your unique contribution added to it!

And to top it all off, all proceeds from the race go to the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol to help them out. Someday I will be able to give this a try, but until then, I hope some of our readers will be up for the challenge next year and get in on the fun!

What: Waldo 100k Trail Run

When: Saturday, August 19 2017

Where: Race begins and ends at Willamette Pass Ski Area in the Oregon Cascades – 70 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon on Highway 58.

Early start is at 3:00 a.m. for those expecting to run more than 16 hours.

Normal Start time is at 5:00 a.m

$140 registration – by lottery on March 1

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