While our IG account would say otherwise, I don’t get out to do as much trail running as I would like. There are some great trails within a dozen miles of my house, and even more as the radius expands. But with my schedule (work, family, blogging), I try to spend as much time on the roads as I can without committing driving time into my training. Luckily for me, Run Wild Adventures – a Mid-Willamette Valley trail racing authority – puts on enough nearby trail races throughout the Winter and Spring to keep me satisfied.
The Vortex Half Marathon and 10k was held at Milo McIver Park in Estacada – a (surprisingly) large State park with miles upon miles of trails ripe for the tackling. I had been to Milo McIver park for a Muddy Buddy race in 2011 – before I was even involved with Run Oregon – and remembered how challenging it was. That was, however, when I was extremely out of shape and not prepared for much of any physical exertion. I had a flashback to that event upon entering the park, and my stomach started churning a little more than usual due to this flashback.
I don’t even know where to start when it comes to running in Run Wild Adventures races – they are all just so well done. From the simplicity of pre-race check-ins through the after-party – they just seem to have it down. It’s motivating and fun – merging a small-race comradery with big-race excitement. Over the 13 miles of criss-crossing and distant loops, the trails were marked so amazingly well, I feel it would have been impossible to veer off track. Flour markings and flags were strategically and perfectly placed and aid stations were well-spaced.
The elevation was definitely challenging, but it was more lenient than RWA’s crown jewel – the Silver Falls Half Marathon. There were also ample spots after climbing to catch your breath on some straightaways or downhills. The first half mile or so on a relatively wide path allowed runners to thin out a bit before hitting some smaller trails. There is a short and steep mini-climb near mile 1, and then some up and downs over the next mile and a half or so.
I am not a professional trail runner by any means, but I thought that the conditions were almost perfect for trail running. Even Gary Terlecki – the race RD – mentioned before that this was as good of trails that they had seen since putting on this rain – and I would have to agree. There was no rain and even spots that were wet weren’t unmanageable. There was often the ability to navigate around the wetter areas, and even when that wasn’t possible, running through them was relatively easy and didn’t include ridiculous puddles. It was just a perfect trail race in that sense.
After a stretch along the Clackamas River, there were a few more short and sweet climbs around mile 4 but, again, things were definitely manageable. There was a longer, more gradual incline between miles 6.5 before maxing out near mile 9, but there wasn’t anything all that terrifying or breathtaking (besides some awesome views). The final 3 miles were essentially straight and/ or downhill, which led to me being able to catch my breath and feel like I was cruising to the finish.
I don’t want to echo my first paragraph too much, but the entirety of the experience – coupled with a few great views and fantastic weather – really made for a great Saturday. Can’t wait to come back!