Race Preview: 2021 McKenzie River Trail Run

When I first became an ultra runner, the McKenizie River Trail Run was the ultra I heard about probably more than any other. It is Oregon’s oldest ultramarathon, so it’s really no wonder that it would be spoken of frequently in running circles, but I mostly always heard how beautiful it was and how it should be on any ultra runner’s bucket list. And so, it sits on my bucket list to this day.. Someday!!

What makes this race so special? In addition to being a staple annually since 1988, the route takes runners along the gorgeous McKenzie River, which boasts two epic waterfalls, views of Clear Lake, lava flows, log bridges, a Tamolitch pool, and of course more lush old growth forest than you can shake a stick at. The McKenizie River Trail is among the prettiest trails in the US, and that’s really saying something.

Though this race, 31 miles long, offers a fairly technical course, there are only moderate elevation gains when compared to many other trail ultras. The race is also hosted by a non-profit organization that provides an environmentally-conscious experience as well as helps support the Upper McKenizie community and local businesses. We all know how important that is in these recent tough years.

This year will be the MRTR’s 33rd year, and there will, of course, be some considerations for COVID. All runners should expect some social distancing, hand sanitation, and masking requirements. Touchless and cupless aid stations, screenings for COVID symptoms, and staggered starts are also in the plans. Spectators, unfortunately, will not be permitted at the start. As the race approaches, more details will become available, per CDC requirements.

Registration is currently full, but there is a waitlist available for anyone who would like to try to get on board for the race which will be on Saturday September 11th this year. Waitlist invitations will be sent before September 1st and everyone will have 2 days to respond.

There will be a packet pick up at the Alesong Tasting Room (5th Street location) on Tuesday September 7th from 5:00PM to 7:00PM. Alesong will be donating a portion of profits for the month of September to the McKenzie River Trust. For non-locals, there will also be a packet pick up available the Friday before the race and Saturday morning at the McKenzie Community Track and Field in Blue River. There will be NO packet pick up at the start line.

Shuttles will be required due to a road closure at the  Carmen Reservoir, which is the starting line for the race. The shuttles will be leaving the McKenzie Community Track early on Saturday morning, likely around 5:30AM, but the time has yet to be confirmed, so stay tuned!! There will be return shuttles after the race as well.

Aid stations will be available every 4-6 miles of the course, with electrolyte and water. As mentioned previously, this will be a cupless and touchless event, so please bring your own drinking vessels. There will also be a variety of sodas, gels, and other ultra snacks available. Trailbridge (aid 3) and Buck Bridge (aid 5) will be the two timed cut-off locations and the entire race has an 8 hour cut off from start to finish.

Drop bags will be an option for this race, and they will be transported from the McKenzie Community Track to the Trailbridge aid station (mile 16.7) and then back to the track. You have the option of leaving warm-up gear at the start line for transport to the track. The finish will be across from the Ranger Station.

The swag this year will be a pair of running shorts for men or a running skort for women, provided by SportHill. There will also be a delicious milk stock courtesy of Alesong at the finish, as well as food to celebrate your finish.

Consider making a weekend of this fun race, as camping is an option worth considering.  Permit-free tent and car camping at the McKenizie Community Track will also be available on a first come, first served basis.



What: 2021 McKenzie River Trail Run

When: Saturday September 11th, 2021 at 7:00AM

Where: The Carmen Reservoir, Blue River OR. (Please note that you will need to shuttle to the start from the McKenzie Community Track.)

Cost: $95

Register: Get on the waiting list here

Packet Pick-Up: September 7th from 5:00-7:00PM at Aleson Tasting Room (5th Street Public Market) and Friday/Saturday before race at McKenzie Community Track and Field in Blue River. There will be NO packet pick up at the start line!

About Author

I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.

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