Over the past year or so I’ve found myself gravitating more towards low key, low “hipster to normal person ratio” races. Maybe it’s my ever advancing old age (I am 30 now), but there have been a number of things about the evolution of this sport that has annoyed me. Yes, we have seen a great increase of races and opportunities to run in amazing locations. This is undoubtedly a good thing. More people running on trails is also a good thing. But with that, there has been strange phenomenon’s popping up all around the sport. Anyone seems to be able to claim they are a “coach”, Instagram alter-ego’s appear, women’s only self help/running support groups are everywhere. And hipsters… so many hipsters.
In the midst of all this insanity, I have found myself wanting normalcy surrounding the races I run. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t need 14 different swag options, or a personalized finishers medal. All of that shit stays in a drawer for me anyway. I kind of just want to pin on a bib, run in a beautiful place, see how well my body performs that day and come through a finish line where no one is really even paying attention or gives a shit that you’re done.
With that said, I entered the Waldo Lottery months prior without really knowing much about the race or course itself. I’d never even been to Oregon, but Breein assured me that I would love it and that the race suits me. Thankfully, I made the lottery with 3 spots to go and we made plans for a trip to Oregon.
Thankfully in the early stages of planning, we decided to fly to Portland. Wildfires throughout Idaho and Oregon would have made for an interesting and long drive. We flew in Friday morning and made our way from Portland to Odell Lake Resort; just about 10 minutes from the start line.
The check in was simple. No random ads or product samples in a race bag, just a Patagonia shirt and a bib. We took it easy the night before the race and woke up early for the 5 AM start. Breein drove me to the start, took a few pictures and we were off to run in the dark for an hour or so.
What I remember from early on in the race was that it was extremely dusty. Right out of the ski resort is a climb and the dirt road reminded me of the moon dust from the Bryce 100 a few years ago. As I understood it, this part of Oregon was incredibly dry compared to a normal year. I don’t recall a whole lot else on this first section. The sun came out, I hike up the first climb, ran some incredibly soft a smooth single track and tried to take in all the dark green forest I could. I settled into about 25 or 30 positions back from the lead.
Around mile 7 is where I saw Breein for the first time. Apparently I looked okay. During the next section was the climb up Mt. Fuji. This was my favorite on the course.
Details are sketchy, but I do know we had three fairly longer climbs on the course. The first was Mt. Fuji. It was incredible. The view from the top was expansive and featured lakes and a slight haze from nearby wildfires. The second climb was The Twins. I remember nothing about that one. The third climb was Maiden Peak. This was exposed, hot, and brutal.
Miles 1 through 45(ish) went fairly well. I was eating and generally feeling good. Breein was able to come back on the trail to see me in 3 or 4 spots before aid stations. It was fun to look forward to that and run with her for a while before getting to the next aid station. She was becoming well known at all aid stations due to her friendly and engaging personality.
The last 18 or so miles weren’t the best for me. I didn’t end up dropping any spots (19th) until the finish, but definitely didn’t finish as strong as I’d like to have. The climb up to Maiden Peak was fairly rough, but I was descending well all day and the way down was fun. Breein met me about 2 or so miles from the finish. We ran together back down to the ski resort and I tried to keep up as she tried to push me. I was ready to be done, but couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that we were running together. Even though my sub 12 hour finish was out of reach, I was pleased with my effort and realization that my fitness wasn’t quite to the level it needed to be for an incredible 100k. I walked it in across the finish line to the delight of nearly a dozen onlookers. That was a perfect way to end a great race. Low key all the way.
The next day Breein and I explored a few spots on the PCT. I was able to fully appreciate my surroundings by moving slowly and deliberately. These trails in Oregon are stunning. I’ll be back soon.
Fun Facts & Observations:
- This race is incredibly well done from an organization standpoint. Aid stations are well run, live tracking is a fun bonus as well.
- My UltrAspire Revolution worked well again. I may go without a hand held next time and rely on the one bottle in the back.
- I think I saw one person that quality as a hipster. Pretty sure he was from Colorado.
- This race goes to the top of my list as my favorite. Similar low key feel as The Bear, but this Waldo takes it even further. The small field of 140 (max) felt perfect for that tight single track.
- Even though I say that, please don’t put your name in for the lottery next year. I want to go back.
- I could live in Oregon. Maybe someday…