Here at Run Oregon, we feel lucky to live in a place that celebrates getting out and pounding the pavement (or the trails, or the mud, or whatever is handy) and we get the chance to do so quite a bit. Honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming to have so many choices, especially when you are planning out your race calendar and you’re not really sure which ones are worth your time and money. So, we thought we’d give you a list of our favorite races this year and maybe that will help you make some plans for what you want to do in 2018! This is the first post in a series by our bloggers with their picks for the 2017 year in races. I ran almost 200 miles in races alone this year .. A lot of half marathons, many relays, a full marathon, and many other distances. However, looking at my list, I’m noticing my absolute favorites were relays. Running really is about the journey rather than the destination. Here are three of my favorite journeys of 2017. Happy running!!
The Three Capes Marathon Relay, February: I had never heard of this relay before I started writing for Run Oregon and I’m so grateful I got the chance to not only write about it, but to experience it firsthand. I was training for a marathon when I did this one day marathon relay, so I opted to run three of the five legs of the course to get my milage in. You can tackle this relay as a five person team, a two person relay with a half marathon for each, or solo if you’re looking to run a full 26.2 mile marathon.
This is a very challenging course, but also very beautiful, so it was totally worth the hills to get to the very scenic views. The race features The Three Capes, starting at Cape Meares, passing Cape Lookout, and finishing at Cape Kiwanda where you can enjoy a celebratory beer at Pelican Brewing. You’ll get to see no less than six State Parks, two National Wildlife Refuges, and you’ll get views of Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. If you like hills, this race has plenty of those too, (2400 feet of climb on the course,) but you can’t beat the Oregon Coast experience of this race. In my experience, one day relays are kinda the perfect time frame and since it’s a pretty small race, you won’t have to deal with a ton of van traffic. Bundle up though, because you will get chilly!!
Under Armour Mountain Running Series – Mt Bachelor, July: After reviewing some trail shoes for Under Armour, I was presented with an opportunity to run in the inaugural Mountain Running Series. There were three locations in the series: Mount Bachelor in Oregon, Killington in Vermont, and Copper Mountain in Colorado. I was fortunate enough to get to do both the Mount Bachelor Relay as well as the Copper Mountain Half Marathon, but since I’m keeping the races in this post to Oregon, I’ll limit my comments to the Mount Bachelor experience, (though, side note, Copper Mountain was amazing.)
There are several distances for each of the races .. 50k, Marathon, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, 10k, and 5k. I opted to get a team together to do the Marathon Relay because that sounded like a fun way to spend a weekend with friends. Since this was the first year of the race, (and likely the first running race organized at Mount Bachelor ever,) there were some kinks that will have to be worked out before they do another race like this. For one, the course was confusing for some, and several people got lost. The good news is that the organizers were on top of it and got everything pretty well marked for people coming in for the second loop (the marathon distance is just the half marathon loop twice.) There are spots out on the course that you can’t get to by car, so many of us got to ride on an ATV to get to the exchange points.
It was a beautiful day and the course was gorgeous too. I felt very lucky to experience it. A couple of the runners on our relay team got lost but everyone had fun and said they’d do this race again. After I finished the relay, I stuck around at the party on the mountain in anticipation of the Vertical Challenge, which was only 1.77 miles uphill, but I knew it was serious when I found myself surrounded by only 22 participants, (mostly men,) and was told it would take around 40 minutes to reach the finish. It was very challenging and I walked most of it, but the view from the top was well worth the climb. This was a true adventure and I had so much fun out there. I think if there were more people who knew about this race, this would be really epic.
Gorgeous Coast Relay, October: This inaugural race was by invitation only, so there were very few volunteers out there to help lead the way other than some great friends of the series helping out of the goodness of their hearts. This was a race that was more like an organized group of people going for a run, but the 2018 race will be more “official.” Either way, it was one of highlights of my race year. The Gorgeous Series never disappoints, with awesome views and experiences you won’t find at other races. This one starts at the Astoria Column, which is an amazing way to kick off a race. You get a view of the whole city from up there and early in the morning, the colors in the sky are truly breathtaking. There was one leg where I got to run on the beach (cars were invited to ride alongside their runners if they had the right vehicles for the challenge) and there was even an exchange at the top of a jetty observation tower. This one day relay runs all along the coast and ends in Cannon Beach. I can’t wait to run it again next year.
I hope this post gives you a few ideas about some fun Relay options in Oregon in 2018. There are so many to choose from now, but the small ones are always very close to my heart.