It’s important to understand and appreciate history. For instance, I find the history of the Hagg Lake Mud Runs to be super interesting, knowing its rich past, and all the greats who have both run the course, and run the operation over the last 22 years. For instance, Run Oregon’s own Kelly Barten was once race director, as was Todd Janssen of Go Beyond Racing, who is often seen managing the aid station at the dam every year.
Last year’s event was memorable, and emotional, as Karen and her team stepped aside after 8 fantastic years of managing the event. This year’s crew of Allison, Christie, and Adam, along with their stellar crew of volunteers, made sure to continue the story. And to their credit, the event was well organized, and an absolute blast to do!
As for my own race, this was my 2nd go at Hagg, having moved to Portland just a few months before the 2022 race, and jumping in for an early season warm-up. I didn’t know much about the event prior to it, but had met Karen at other events and had talked to several runners who always spoke of the tradition and history of the race. I heard the horror stories of the wicked mud, and how it sucks your shoes right off your feet. I was told I needed to duct tape my shoes to my ankles in preparation. I showed up last year not sure what to expect, and ended up having a blast on a fairly dry course.
This year, the course was not much different, with a little more mud than last year, and some misting rain at the end, but all in all a lovely day for a trail race. I set off with the leaders as I often do, but quickly settled into 5th for most of the first lap. I dialed it back with the goal of having some gas in the tank for the 2nd lap. Near the end of the first loop I was caught and passed by Mike Riddle, then passed again just after the start of loop 2 by Ondrej Podlesak.
I remembered to just let those guys go and focus on a steady rhythm. The closer I got to the other side of the dam the second time (about 8 miles from the start/finish), the better I felt. Soon I had picked it up a little and started thinking about the finish. Before I knew it, I had caught a glimpse of both Mike and Ondrej in front of me, but not before Leah Brown went by me (on her way to the 5th fastest female time ever!!).
Using Leah as motivation, I stepped on the gas and went right by the 2 guys who had passed me earlier. Boy, that felt good. I was feeling solid and came through the finish with a big smile on my face, knowing I had taken nearly 10 minutes off my time from the previous year! The added icing came when one of the organizers handed me my award for being first masters!! Last year, I was passed with 3 miles to go by Mike Tyler, who took the masters win. This year was my turn to make the pass with 4 miles to go and take the crown!
After the race I spent a few minutes chatting with Allie about the event. Numbers were solid for race entries for both days, Huber Timing was fantastic, the volunteers were all at the top of their game, the minestrone soup at the end was perfect, and the post-race vibes were solid. I enjoyed chatting with several runners who all beamed from another fun event, while warming up with soup and coffee.
The history of this event speaks volumes, especially in the ultra-running community here in Oregon. I have had a blast so far, and hope to continue to be part of this race for years to come.