Running the Gorge Waterfalls 100k seemed like a good idea when this race opened up in the winter. Breein and I signed up the day it went on sale and the race (as expected) sold out rather quickly. I already knew I was running the Buffalo Run 100 and for some reason this race being two weeks later didn’t really phase me at the time. While I won’t go into too many details, this obviously was a terrible idea. My legs were annihilated after about 12 miles and the rest of the day subsisted of just trying to do the best I could and enjoy the course.
With that said, this experience further proved to me what sort of race I don’t want to be a part of. While I haven’t been doing this whole ultra running thing as long as a lot of people, I’ve been doing it enough to know what kinds of events I gravitate towards. I don’t run these races to be in a crowd of people. While I absolutely love to compete and “race”, my enjoyment level is pretty low when having to pass (or be passed) by hoards of people. I crave the feel of isolation that some races provide and it was my mistake to think that that could be a possibility at Gorge Waterfalls. Having 300+ people on an out and back course is great for aid station simplicity and the ability to see who’s in front of you. It doesn’t work for the person wanting to get in their own head for a few miles without interruption.
The beauty of the course at Gorge Waterfalls is as good as advertised though. Some of the trails and obviously waterfalls, are stunning. The first 12 miles are pretty technical and make for some fun running. The aid stations were very well organized did the best they could given the amount of people that were flowing through them. My overall feelings about the race itself would probably be vastly different if it were a field of around 125. That isn’t the case though, so this is one that I won’t do again.
A few good things did come out of running this event. My parents got to see me “race” for the first time in well over a year. I got to spend a long weekend in the Portland area with Breein. We also began scheming of when we want to do the Wonderland trail. And because of this, my list of desired races has shrunk dramatically. I’ll continue to race, but hopefully in more obscure locations and without the crowds. Those races still exist, you just have to look.