Running the Oregon Trail (Game!)

Ever since the Oregon Trail Game Race came on the scene, I’ve been wanting to run it. As a former 4th grade teacher, I was quite familiar with the classic Oregon Trail computer game and this race sounded so intriguing. I finally had the opportunity to participate this year, and what a creative event!

As a race in just its 4th year, the turnout was great. According to emails, a record 700+ people had registered for the 2018 race. The record numbers caused a major pre-race snafu. Only 4 port-a-potties at the start line! Let’s just say, that many of us were forced to forgo our bathroom visit before embarking on the long “road trip” that was the Oregon Trail.

The race started with several different waves in order to help with the inevitable congestion on the stairs that were quite close to the start. Despite the waves, the climb up 223 stairs did get a bit congested, as did the narrow trail at the top. But, once we hit the streets again, we were able to spread out for the rest of the 5K. Oregon City is quite hilly, so the course was breathtaking in so many ways! The view from the top of the stair climb was beautiful. That and the many hill climbs truly did take your breath away. Fortunately, what goes up must come down, so there were some lovely downhill sections to catch your breath.

There were multiple stations along the course where we had to make a decision regarding our travels. Before the race I was concerned that this would cause back-ups and chaos, but the race organizers had this part dialed in. There were A-frame signs with our two choices listed on them and arrows pointing to either side of a table based on your choice. For example, you could choose to stop and hunt or continue traveling. Based on your choice you veered to the left or right of the table and grabbed one of the folded cards on that side of the table. This went really smoothly and I hardly had to slow down to grab my card. I was wishing I had worn my running shorts that had multiple pockets since you needed to keep your cards with you. Based on the cards I selected, I felt like I was doing pretty well along the Oregon Trail. Except for my hunting. Apparently, I’m not a very good hunter and I managed to lose all my bullets with my poor aim. But, lucky for me, another wagon shared some supplies with me along the trail. So, I was feeling pretty darn successful!

When I finished I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my collection of cards, but I knew I needed them for something. As I dodged people along the finish chute that were visiting the many vendors, I tried to catch my breath and find some water. It was a warm morning and I was ready to re-hydrate. There were plenty of beer vendors, as there was a beer festival at the finish area (The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.) But, despite walking in circles several times, there was no water in sight at the finish area – unless I purchased some from a vendor. I was sure I must be missing the water station, but I finally gave up when I discovered I needed to get in line to find out my results. Did I live or die? The line was quite long and I waited 20 minutes to get to a computer to input my card choices and find out my fate. (There was the option of skipping the line and using your phone to input your choices once you received an email, but I didn’t have my phone with me.) Even though I appeared to have made decent choices along the course, I traveled for 45 weeks and then died of measles. What a rough ending!

Despite the start and finish snafus, the race itself was well-organized, very original, and fun. The course was well-marked and the volunteers along the course were plentiful and did a great job. It is a theme race experience that you should try at least once. After all, how often do your race results include death by measles?

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