If you haven’t been to Bend before, you really should make the trek. It is a really charming town filled with awesome outdoor activity options – one of which is taking a trek to Mt. Bachelor. In the winter, you can ski the slopes and in the summer you can run the steep, rocky paths. If you are up for a challenge, I suggest entering the Under Armour Mt. Bachelor races. This year, the race took place on September 15th and offered a 5K, 10K, 18K, and 50K.
My reason for choosing to participate in this race was to runwith a bunch of phenomenal athletes that I look up to and insta-stalk. I knew this race would be chock full of them including YiOu Wang and other Under Armour sponsored athletes. Because I was traveling to Bend to do the race, I figured I might as well do the longest distance they offered and peer pressure a bunch of friends into making it a long racing weekend. So, myself and six of my friends took the 3 hour drive to Bend as we prepared to run an assortment of their race distances.
The night before the race we went to 10 Barrel to pick up our packet and checkout the leg-shakeout run. As we pulled in, we saw the Under Armour tents and were excited to see some of their athletes. My friends had never ran a trail race, so before getting our packet, they swung over to the Under Armour shoes and picked out a pair to race in. The crew there was hilarious, helpful and encouraging of their choice to wear trail shoes. We picked up our packet and stayed to chat with the race director about the 18K and 50K course. The director was incredibly helpful and went over in detail the terrain, turns and hills. I felt much more prepared after our talk.
The morning of the fifteenth we headed out the door to get me to the start line of the 50K by 7am. It was a freezing cold day and I had thankfully prepared the night before with ear warmers and gloves. The race started and off we went down gravely rolling hills
before hitting a long downhill, crossing the street and heading into the trees and sandy trails. The trails throughout the course were mostly sand and packed dirt. The sand lended to soft lands on falls and the forested packed dirt trails were great for picking up the pace. At about mile 8 we started to head up. And by up I mean like 6 miles of gain, winding throughout the forest trails that are usually the downhill of ski slopes. This is approximately exactly when things went south for me. Bend has a high elevation to start and this addition to elevation didn’t help. I got pretty sick and by this I mean I was stopping every few feet to dry heave.
From there, the course continued on hills and downhills winding throughout beautiful paths. At about mile 20 or so we came to a lot of lumber roads. With these roads there were a good amount of cars kicking up dust. When we were on the paths, there was also a decent amount of mountain bikers. These were tricky to navigate, but for me, offered the opportunity to stop and heave a bit more.
As we approached the end, we hit the road and the gravel road we started on. We climbed up gravel hills and we heard the finish line in the background. Finally crossing the line was a huge relief. It was a tough race but really a good experience. The aid stations were great and so helpful. The people on the course were so sweet and supportive. This race really made me feel like part of the ultra community. I had people come up to me as I was throwing up encouraging me to keep going and saying “one foot in front of the other”. It was so helpful and much-needed.
When I finished I was able to see my 18K friends. Unfortunately, only half of them were able to finish due to a bit of a bee debacle on the course. If you plan to run this race, I suggest anti-histamines and no bee allergies. I had one friend end up hospitalized due to bee stings but otherwise they had a great time and fell in love with the trails.
Under Armour Mt. Bachelor is no joke. If you are looking for something difficult, beautiful and filled with amazing talent, this race is for you. Just remember… keep going, don’t run through bee swarms, and encourage everyone you come across.