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Relay Preview: 2018 Elkhorn Relay (La Grande)

We are lucky that we have some great relays here in Oregon. Whether you are looking for one-day or overnight runs, there are options for everyone. And while it is great to run HTC every year, sometimes it can be equally awesome to check out a smaller relay in an area of Oregon you likely haven’t done before. Let’s talk about the Elkhorn Relay, a 206 mile relay for teams of 4-12 (there is also a 101 mile option) that traverses the largest enclosed valley in the US.

Some awesome things:

  • No volunteers needed – they provide them all!
  • Starting and finish lines are within 10 miles of each other!
  • Benefits a great cause
    • The RD team is 100% volunteer and all proceeds from our races go directly to funding clean water developments, housing, and other basic human needs in 3rd world countries!
  • Running in some of the most beautiful landscapes that Oregon has to offer! I mean…

We had a guest blogger write in about her experience (Gail Kimberling – RD of Lincoln City Half Marathon), and here’s a little about what she had to say:

The Elkhorn Relay was indeed breathtaking – but not due to the frenetic pace and crush of people in larger, well-known relays; instead, there were lung-sucking high altitude runs and take-your-breath-away vistas.

The 200+mile, 36-leg relay started at Hilgard State Park on old Highway 244 along the Grande Ronde River outside of La Grande, climbed over the Elkhorn Mountains and passed Anthony Lakes, reaching an altitude of 7,100 feet. Then the course dropped into Baker Valley and continued to Medical Springs and Union before circumnavigating the expansive Grande Ronde Valley and finishing at River Side Park in La Grande.

The runs themselves were scenic … and, yes, completely epic. Daunting ascents. Pine forests and winding rivers. Acres of green corn, fragrant mint, and golden wheat stubble. Deer by the dozens. Errant cows. Coyotes and raptors in the dark. Gravel, dust, and moisture-sucking heat. Traffic in this part of the state is, thankfully, minimal. Except for one or two local yahoos, we were given a polite wide berth by cars, trucks and farm equipment on the course. The finish featured music, food and awards for the first place team and several side competitions: “King of the Hill” for the steepest section, “The Straightaway of Death” for the longest, flattest, straightest section, and the best race photo.

Definitely head to their FAQ on course legs, distances, and difficulty.

Elkhorn Relay 

When: Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, 2018


  • Start = Hilgard State Park, La Grande
  • Finish = Riverside Park, La Grande

Register: Online here;

  • 4-12 Person (206 miles)- 2 days, $1150
  • 6 Person (101 miles) – 1 day, $550

About Matt Rasmussen (1297 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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