The Vortex Trail Run has become a tradition for me and a few of my running buddies. 2019 was the 4th time we made the trip to Milo McIver State Park to run the trails outside of Estacada. As it is an early spring run, you never know what the weather will hold and what the trail conditions will be like. But, you can be assured that Run Wild Adventures will put on a quality event, no matter the conditions. This year the weather was great! Despite the forecast, the rain held off and it was warmer than I expected. (Last year we actually encountered snow on our way to the park!) Since we had a few very warm, dry days the week before the race, the trail conditions were the best of the last 4 years.
The 10K course at Vortex has some quality ups and downs. (So does the half marathon, but I haven’t run that distance at Vortex.) The run starts out with a comfortable flat stretch and then suddenly you are climbing – stairs! I’m a slow runner, and the crowd I was running behind came to a screeching halt at the stairs. Yes, the stairs can be awkward, due to varying heights and lengths, but completely stopping was baffling. When I got closer to the top, I saw the reason for the delay. A large tree had fallen across the path and some runners found this obstacle difficult to maneuver. Once past this section, the bottleneck cleared up pretty well and you could pass or be passed along the single track trail without too much difficulty. The uphill climbs on this course can leave you gasping for air, but there are plenty of flat and downhill sections that allow you to breathe again.
As I mentioned before, the trail conditions were great! There were a few muddy sections, but none of them were shoe sucking, life altering mud pits. In fact, the mud barely made it over the sole of my shoes. It was obvious that the trails are in the process of being improved to help with drainage, erosion, etc. The repairs also helped with the conditions. About halfway through the course, there is a really flat, easy, grassy section of trail that runs along the river. I love running here. The flat allows you to look around and enjoy the beauty a bit more since you don’t have to be so focused on watching your step. Hearing the river rushing beside you is a pretty cool, too! The few glimpses I got of the river were quite impressive, with the high water moving along quickly.
Soon enough the cones and arrows directed us away from the grassy field to another another steep, forested climb. The forested areas are beautiful and peaceful, but I have trouble looking around for long. Navigating the single track trail has to hold most of my attention if I want to stay upright! But, there is just something I really enjoy about running the trails at McIver. It’s nice to take in the sights and sounds of nature – without a single interruption from any vehicle traffic. The only traffic here is on foot. After running down a fairly good decline, it’s back to flat running and then the finish line.
At the finish there was hot chili and cold beer available, and the Franz grilled cheese van was handing out delicious samples. There was plenty of water to rehydrate, as well. Awards were given to the top 3 finishers in each age division. The medals are custom made, wooden, VW buses. They are super cool and very original, as you can see in the picture below around Shaun’s neck (3rd from the left.)
As usual, Vortex Trail Run was organized, the trail was well-marked, and everything ran like a well-oiled machine. The event, that is, not me! 🙂 I will definitely be back for a 5th time. You never know what next year will hold. But, it will definitely be a quality event.