Have you ever signed up for a new race to fill up an open weekend, only to be truly blown away by the experience. If you haven’t (and even if you have), we recommend putting the Miller Woods 10k on your list.
I ran this event on October 28, knowing little about the race itself or the location, aside from our preview.
Miller Woods is a gem tucked in the hills NW of McMinnville. It is complete with single track trails that criss-cross the park and offer some challenging climbs and downhills. It’s essentially a trailrunner’s dream that can be easily accessed without needing to head to the mountains. Had you been blindly dropped off on the trails, you would probably think you were on a remote Cascade or Coast Range trail. We were warned by the race starter that the course would be tough and it would be an ongoing up-and-down affair, not one long climb and one descent. Boy was she right.
We started off on a gradual climb, which while not always an ideal way to kick off a race, was nice as it thinned out a crowd on some wider trails right off the bat. The climb wasn’t long or strenuous, but it was beautiful. This was followed by a downhill section to an opening into a flat grass clearing – one that we would be traversing multiple times during the race – and a quick yet steep set of switchbacks up and down some non-canopied trails. As we entered a different forested section and downhill I was putting in a good pace, but was nervous as I knew that we had to come back up eventually.
That “eventually” actually came quite quick, as the decline was immediately followed by an uphill loop back to the grass clearing. Even this flat stretch was no near long enough, as the next mile or so was a series of arduous and steady climbs upwards. My groans of exhaustion were coupled with crooning at the scenery that was all around me. The fall colors were all around and it was hard to not want to stop and take pictures every few minutes. The final 1.5 miles was mostly a downhill, though there were some mind tricks going on when runners could see and hear the finish line…only to be led on one final short (it felt longer than it was) uphill to the end. Finishing this race is definitely an accomplishment for being 10k.
Beyond the wonderful location, I was super impressed with the organization. For a course map that crossed over itself a few times and had multiple trails to access, I had zero issues with where I was supposed to go. The ground had paint and there were ribbons blocking off incorrect paths. My GPS logged about 5.7 miles, and it appeared that most Strava runners had around 5.8, but with all the switchbacks under dense trees in the foothills – I’m chalking it up to location. After the race, there were a ton of homemade snacks – muffins and cookies – as well as store-bought protein bars, fruit, and bread/peanut butter. The raffle was also very generous with upwards of 40 giveaways for a field of about 100. The odds were pretty fantastic! Our own Brian Bernier scorched the field and took home first place.
This is one of those races where I feel I will remember my experience for quite a while. I recommend this race wholeheartedly.