If you want a race that isn’t for the faint of heart, Mary’s Peak 25K, 50K, and 50 Miler is the race for you!
If you are wondering exactly how hard this race is, this is literally what the website says, “How hard is this Ultra? Hard enough! Both the 50k and 50 miler climb quite a bit through lush NW coastal range forest. Some have said this may be the hardest 50K and 50 Miler anyplace in the USA!”. So, yes, it was very hard. I had the great pleasure of running the 50K for this race and just three weeks after running my first of that distance.
I knew this race would be very different from my previous as it literally climbed a mountain. In fact, it climbs the tallest peak on the Oregon Coastal Range. Not only that, but the communication leading up to this race was a lot different. There were a series of emails that came out prior to the race that were very helpful, yet also provided some nerve-racking details. Details such as, every runner gets the race directors cell phone number in case they need to be picked up off the mountain. In all honesty though, the emails provided a ton of great information and really prepared us, as runners, for what was ahead.
Mary’s Peak is in Blodgett, OR and there is a good chance you have never heard of this place because it is tiny and adorable and just outside of Corvallis. Runners met at the local high school and were bused up a long climb to a trail head on Mary’s Peak. After we got of the bus we were corralled into a quick meeting about what to expect and what to look out for along the course. Then we lined up and were counted down to go!
The race immediately started down a logging road for about a mile and half which led to a quick start out of the gate. At the bottom of the hill we turned on to the trails and started the long climb up Mary’s Peak. The climb was LONG and quiet. The groups spread out quickly and I found myself alone for most of the race. It was supposed to be an unusually warm day but as we got to the top of the mountain I was glad I didn’t decide to wear my shorts as it got shockingly chilly and foggy. It was eerie and gorgeous. As we climbed up the mountain, we got to see some of the 50 milers as the descended. Reaching the top was beautiful but too foggy to see too far in front of you. Then we started the downhill. This would usually be my strength in these trail races but the terrain was very unforgiving and I found it best to go at a comfortable and reasonable pace. Once we reached the bottom of the mountain we went onto rolling terrain for the rest of the race which consisted of long-winding cutbacks, overgrown fields, tree lined trails and much more.
Unfortunately, as to be somewhat prepared for with such unruly terrain, I took a nasty fall at mile 3 and really wasn’t able to recover and ended up dropping out at mile 20. The aid station at this location was so supportive and sweet and called me a ride to come pull me off the mountain. Once back at the finish I saw other unfortunate runners with twisted ankles and busted collarbones, but again, that’s something we risk out on the rough trails! On the bright-side I was able to watch my friends and cheer for them as they crossed the finish line!
This course was stunning, incredibly challenging and very well organized. I love/hated it the entire time except for my fall. If you are looking for a challenge, this is definitely a good race to choose!