Tag Archives: Peterson Ridge Rumble

Race Report // Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-miler

Running the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-miler had been a goal of mine for a couple years. My friend Sean is the Race Director, an incredibly experienced ultra runner, and knows exactly what runners need and when. I have run the 20-mile course the last two years, and had wanted to do the 40-miler last year. Unfortunately, I succumbed to a nasty cold that lasted a few weeks, and training didn’t go as planned.  But I was back this year, more determined than ever to run a 40-miler “before I turn 40” next January. Makes sense, right? The idea inspired me, and so it became my goal. To conquer two birds with one stone, I decided to also sign up to run the Newport Marathon just six weeks later. More on that in a bit.

The Gorge Waterfalls 50K left me with a runner’s high that lasted most of the following week. Not sure if it was the race, the effort or the course, but it was truly an unforgettable experience that kicked off two weeks of tapering for PRR (here is a link to The Ginger Runner’s Gorge Waterfalls 50K video). The race also left me with a boosted level of confidence that helped me mentally prepare for a 40-mile race. My single worry was that PRR was much more runnable than the 50K, and I didn’t want to kill my legs early on which might leave me with no gas left in the tank at the end.

A Drone Flying Over Us at the PRR 40-mile Start

A Drone Flying Over Us at the PRR 40-mile Start

Race morning was a bit chillier than expected at 24-degrees, but the sun was out which was all I could ask for. Thankfully, my nerves weren’t on the fritz and I was surprisingly relaxed for race day. Again, the 50K had given me the boost I think I needed before running this distance, so all I had to do was believe in myself. And that I did. After a “Go Amy Clark!” from Sean (behind the mega phone) the first 20 miles went by quickly, especially after we merged with the 20-mile folks at around mile 18. They were speedy, and it was a little hard to not be intimidated by their faster pace. Or speed up with them, for that matter, as the second half of the first loop is mostly a gentle downhill. But I held my own and once we got back to the road, it was time to pull over for a pit-stop behind a tree. I honestly never stopped to pee in the two 50K’s I ran prior to this race, so this was new – and thank goodness I had a place to go. Sometimes privacy – believe it or not – can be hard to find off the side of a trail. Looking for a “quick” spot to squat is just another thing that takes time.

At the top of Peterson Ridge. Photo by Paul Nelson

At the top of Peterson Ridge. Photo by Paul Nelson

Then it was off to loop number two. Before I forget – the aid stations throughout loop number one were AWESOME – as expected. The volunteers were incredible, and the selection of food and drinks was plentiful. Local races are always fun  because of the familiar faces greeting you at the aid stations.

Venturing out onto the second 20-mile loop of the race was uncharted territory. I had never run this section of the course, and was feeling a bit lonely as I made the turn off of the road that returns the 20-mile runners back to the finish line. There was another runner that was just ahead of me, and it turned out to be one of my fellow “Twitter buddies,” but unfortunately we were both in the zone and not really up for conversation at that point. When you are facing another 20 miles, it’s hard to make small talk – at least for me. I had no idea what to expect. So on I went, traversing what appeared to be a long, country road. The road soon turned to cinder and went up. And up. This was the point where I decided I could use a good hike, especially since it was almost the afternoon and the sun was bright. Throughout the rest of the loop I would often leap-frog, or pass runners as we were all battling our own inner races. Then the scenery went from really nice to AH-MA-ZING between mile 30-35, where the top of a ridge overlooked a meadow of bright green manzanita bushes, and just above those was the tree line, which sat just below the whitest, most stunning mountains (Three Sisters) backed by a bluebird sky. Took my breath away, and I chose not to take a photo so that I’ll remember that moment just as it happened in my head. A picture could never do the view justice. And by the way, the volunteers on the second loop were just as amazing as those on the first. Thank you to all of those wonder people who were out there!

Then it was down, down, down to the aid station at mile 35. It was a shaded horse camp and I was ready to fill up on my usual – oranges, PB&J, potato chips and coke. No rush though – just five miles to go. Finally, off I went after feeling like I could finish strong with a full belly. Eventually, I caught another runner I had been leap frogging with, and passed her with about one mile to go. Then – CRASH. Yup – fell right into the dirt. Luckily no damage was done, and I got right back up and followed her into the finish. Around the track I went, where lots of people were still around cheering us on, and crossed the finish line of my longest race to date. 40 miles. Done. My time was exactly the same as the Gorge Waterfalls 50K – 6:57. And I got in about 9 miles more.

Sean and I at the finish. The best RD ever!

Sean and I at the finish. The best RD ever!

I felt fortunate I was able to chat with Sean after, as I rarely get to see him now that he’s living in Arizona. And I felt good – no niggling aches or pains, just the usual overall soreness from running for seven hours (and a little chafing from piece of bark that got stuck in a snug spot during my pit stop).

I was incredibly happy after completing the 40-miler, of course, but felt like it was just the icing on the cake. I had completed months of training, and capped it off with an absolutely beautiful, yet tough 50K. Now I get to jump back into training mode for the Newport Marathon on May 30. No time to waste – one down and one to go!

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Race Report // Gorge Waterfalls 50K

You gotta love when a cool volunteer opportunity turns into a cool volunteer opportunity AND a race entry.  A week ago on Sunday, I helped the awesome crew at USL.tv (ultrasportslive) live-stream the Gorge Waterfalls 100K, and was also granted an entry into what is normally a very hard race to get into via lottery.

The weekend started at 2am on Saturday, as I had to get up and get ready while staying at my parent’s place in Salem and then pick up my fearless USL.tv leader, Marie, and drive to the Aid Station at mile 13.  We were pressed for time, as the lead runner was due into the Yeon Aid Station (miles 13 & 49) around 5:40am (the race began at 4am).  To prepare for a live broadcast/streaming on a trail, in the woods, IN THE DARK is a thing of wonder.  But just as if she’d done it a million times, Marie got the camera, generator and computer, all up and running in no time. Soon the lead men came through the aid station and were back out into the dark – with the lead women right on their heels (although they were pretty hard to identify due to the darkness). The sun eventually came out from behind old growth forest, and we put in a full day of broadcasting from the trail (every 20 minutes) until 4:30pm.  Even though we stayed in one spot, there was a lot of excitement throughout the day – including watching the elite runners fly by, the Ginger Runner also flew by while chasing the lead runners with his GoPro, and mostly – all of the smiles and determination from all other 100K runners.  What an amazing bunch of people.  Every single one.  I was in awe all day long.

Marie broadcasting from the trail. This was our set-up.

Marie broadcasting from the trail. This was our set-up.

Ginger Runner (aka Ethan Newberry) chasing Bob Shebest

Ginger Runner (aka Ethan Newberry) chasing Bob Shebest

After we had completed our broadcast at 4:30pm, it was time for a quick dinner at the Charburger overlooking the Columbia River and Bridge of the Gods, then back to the hotel for a lot of shut-eye.  We earned our rest, and definitely needed every minute of it.  Then it was back up at 6am on Sunday to prep for the 50K.  We arrived at Benson State Recreation Area and loaded up on buses that took us out to the start at Wyeth (the half-way point for the 100K).  We were off after a few words from James Varner – Race Director for Rainshadow Running.

View of Bridge of the Gods from Charburger

View of Bridge of the Gods from Charburger

The first few miles were a slow trudge under towering old growth trees high above the Columbia River.  All the runners were very close together, as there was no road or wider trail that allowed us to spread out and find our pace.  This was a GOOD thing for me, as I was using this as a training run for the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-mile just a mere two weeks later.  I didn’t want to go out fast and kill myself, so it was definitely fine by me – until I found myself behind a runner who felt the need to snap 20 pictures on his phone over the first two miles.  Sorry dude, I’d rather get this done sooner than later. Buh-bye.

I got through the first aid station with a quick fill of my water pack, a Gu and orange slice.  I was feeling good, and there was no need to slow down. Before I forget, the volunteers and support at all of the aid stations were tremendous.  What an amazing bunch of people volunteering their day to cheer on runners and make sure they are getting what they need.  I’m always amazed at the time people take during these events.

Then it was on to Elowah Waterfalls and the next aid station – Yeon (flashback from Saturday).  The course has a bit of pavement, but I felt good running on it, and the change of pace was welcome.  It allowed me to spread out a bit from all the other runners and not feel like I was watching my footing the ENTIRE time.  The rocks on this trail are a constant hazard, which means any sight-seeing is out of the question if you’re trying to stay upright.

Running past Elowah Falls. Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

 Elowah Falls

Once we were through Yeon at mile 18, it was down the road for a couple miles and up yet another climb.  The terrain on this section didn’t have as much old growth as before, but the trail was incredibly narrow and windy, which made for even trickier footing (read: tripping).  Especially when following other runners who were also tripping. I caught up to my USL.tv compadre and found out she’d been suffering since mile 10 from nausea.  Frankly, I was a little surprised I wasn’t suffering either, as we had had a long day on our feet with hardly any food the day prior.  Traveling can take its toll when running a long distance. I went ahead, knowing full well she had it in her to find a gear to make it to the finish.  We only had about six miles left.  I soon heard a cowbell and a woman kindly told me the aid station was just ahead.  YES. My other USL.tv colleague had already made it to the aid station and told me of his cramping after the last stop, and I shoveled PB&J, potato chips, oranges and Coke in so fast that I was ready to go once again.


Running past Elowah Falls Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

The last section of this race is the toughest, and I bow down to those 100K-ers who ran it in the dark and then looped back knowing they would have to tackle it again from the other side. The last climb is 1,500 feet in three miles.  It was a warm, beautiful day – so add a bunch of hikers/tourists and you’ve got a busy trail with a bunch of people trying to go up. The first climb was paved and had 11 switchbacks which were clearly marked (6 of 11, 7 of 11..), then the trail dipped and climbed again.  This time it was rocky and unpaved, alongside a couple cliffs.  Again, not sure how those 100K-ers did it in the dark. Then there is an additional climb to the very top and – you guessed it – a steep drop down the other side.  Bombing down part rocky trail / part pavement is the only way to explain it.  We got to run under one of the falls – Ponytail Falls – and I got whacked in the chest by a young kid I passed behind just as he lost his balance.  Fortunately it wasn’t too hard of a hit.  Heading down, I could see I-84 so I knew how far I’d come and how much more I had to go.  The end was in sight.  Next it was up and over some steps and then through the parking lot of Multnomah Falls Lodge, under a bridge and along I-84 to the finish (a trail next to the Interstate, mind you).  Funny thing – I have never actually been to Multnomah Falls.  Now I can say I’ve been there, but I’ve never seen it.  After 30 miles, I had no idea all I had to do was look up behind the Lodge to see the Falls.  Fortunately I saw plenty of others along the rest of the course.  Oh well, next time.

Into Benson State Recreation Area and across the finish line.  Received a hi-five from James Varner, the Race Director (he hi-fives all finishers) and then went in search of pizza.  I am not one to hang out at the finish line – especially when no one is there waiting for me (not a big deal, I assure you).  I looked for my new friends from USL.tv and headed to my truck to change when I didn’t spy either of them.  I needed a Chipotle burrito and that was that.  I was on a mission to get home and see my kids and EAT.

My finish time was only 3 minutes slower than my McDonald Forest 50K finish from last year.  It shouldn’t have surprised me with all the hills, but it still felt much better than my last 50K and I feel good about the effort.  Definitely feeling ready as I go into this weekend’s Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-mile trail race.  Another race report coming soon!

Trail Selfie

Trail Selfie -Yeon Aid Station

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