Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Race Report: Silver Falls Trail Marathon & Half Marathon

This is the third year for the half marathon event, and the first for the full marathon. It was a staggered start with the marathon going off at 8:30, and the half at 9 am. The first 5 miles are the same for both races and initially makes a loop, coming back very near the start at about 3.5 miles or so, which is nice for any friends or family that might be along for support. There is some pavement for the first mile or so, allowing for runners to spread out a bit before hitting the trail. Otherwise, you are running through some beautiful forest with plenty of color still around.

The marathon course branches off around Mile 5.5 on to the Perimeter Trail to hit the backcountry area of the park. In all, we made a 14 mile loop that included several climbs, the first starting around mile 6-7. This part of the course was challenging to say the least. In addition to lots of hills, there was a bonafide river crossing, lots of mud, puddles, rocks, roots, and bombing downhills. It was also pretty slippery between the mud and fallen giant maple leaves on the trail.

At mile 19.5 the courses rejoin for the remainder of each race and this is where you reap the reward; all the waterfalls! The course runs by several stunning falls, and even behind a few! There are some nice flats and downhills through here, but don't be fooled, as there are lots of stairs and a nice uphill in the last mile. The last half mile or so is kind to all, with a nice downhill, then scenic bridge crossing into the finish area. It was nice that so many of the racers from both races were hanging around to cheer the later marathoners coming in.

The post-race environment was fun, with the fire still going in the shelter house. A pretty good spread of peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and hot chili was included, along with water, Heed, and some hot drinks as well.

The Half Marathon awards ceremony was held in a timely fashion after most racers were in, with a separate Marathon ceremony held later. Both offered an abundant raffle for all racers, with some cool schwag given away.

Despite a little rain at the start, the weather ended up being pretty ideal, with temps in the upper 50's, and varied conditions of fog and mist, and some very brief sunshine. This, against the back drop of some spectacular just-past peak colors, made for a beautiful morning of trail running.

Some other tips...Take the exit for Sublimity off of Hwy 22, rather that going to the official Silver Falls State Park exit, seems like it would save a few minutes. Also, if you have both half and full marathoners in your group like we did, we suggest throwing in some lawn chairs for waiting around, and maybe bringing your own post-race beverages. At this time of year, be prepared for wet conditions, and have a dry set of warm clothes to change in to as well. A pair of water proof shoes for after would be good too.

All in all, this is a gem of an event and we had blast! Bend was well-represented and it was a great day for everyone!

Written by: Kathy Lein with contributions from Stephanie Waritz and Jennefer Lloyd

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