Thursday, April 4, 2013

Race Report – 2013 Gorge Waterfalls 50K

By Zach Violett

This is the second year that my girlfriend, Stephanie Howe, and I did the Gorge Waterfalls 50km. We enjoyed it so much in 2012 that we had to come back. Unfortunately the 2012 winter storms caused massive wash-outs of the trail and hundreds of blown down trees. The trails were still not fixed in time for this year’s race so we got to do the same course we were familiar with.

Because we would be starting and finishing at Benson State Park (near Multnomah Falls) we decided to stay in Troutdale this year. This would give us much closer access to the start/finish plus allow us to go into Portland as we wanted. We decided to make a weekend of it so headed over Friday after work and stayed through Sunday.

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day in the Gorge. Sunny with the highs expected to be 75-80. It was going to be a great day.  I think we were both a bit nervous since this was our first race since Bandera. Neither Steph nor I had a stellar showing that day in Texas and we both really wanted to have a good one. Steph was also working on a sore calf and I’m still pretty up and down with my results. There would be a ton of fast guys at the race (Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning, MarioMendoza, Yassine Duboun, Chris Kollar, Hal Koerner & others).  In that group a top 5 is a good day!

A few general highlights from the race:

·        Lots of vertical

·        Lots of technical single track

·        Really beautiful course with waterfalls around every corner.

·        Well marked course with great volunteers and aid stations

·        The course Profile:

My Race Highlights:

·        I had a really solid race and was 3rd overall (but need to give credit to Mario, if he hadn’t crashed and sprained his ankle in the last few miles he would have been ahead of me and was fighting for the win)

·        I was excited to get to run with the leaders for a few miles in the middle of the race

·        My downhill running has gotten drastically better

·        I got attacked and knocked to the ground by a dog. Luckily it didn’t bite me and we both walked away OK (only a bit scared). 

After the race is when the fun really starts. James Varner who owns and manages Rainshadow Running does an excellent job putting on a race. James stood at the finish and gave every finisher a high five or hug as they crossed the line. There was a pizza oven and full spread of food and drink at the finish. Steph and I hung out for an hour or so chatting with the other racers before hitting the road.

After a quick shower we headed to Dundee, OR for a few wine tastings. We ended up a Lange & Erath (both have great Pinot’s). We hoped to visit more but it was already 5p and everybody was closed for Easter on Sunday. We drove back to Troutdale and got some dinner in downtown Gresham. Not sure if anybody knows it, but Gresham actually has a lot more than strip malls. It has a super cool downtown with good restaurants and brew pubs. I’d seriously recommend it. Sunday morning was spent exploring Portland neighborhoods and shopping for stuff you can’t easily find in Bend.

Overall, I’d really recommend doing a full weekend around this race. Because it is a ‘short’ 50K you are not totally wasted and can enjoy the many things the Columbia river gorge and Portland have to offer. You can stay in Hood River or Troutdale and really get a good Oregon vacation. 

About me… I’m 30 years old. I’m lucky to have Stephanie Howe as my running partner and girlfriend. In case you didn’t know, she won the PPP and is sort of a big deal.  I’m still semi-new to running but very experienced at racing. My background is cross country ski racing. I moved to Bend in 2006 to join the XC-Oregon Ski team. I’ve since ‘retired’ from ski racing but can’t stay away from the start line. I work for a software company here in town called Tech Soft 3D managing sales in the western US and Asia. In the past 3 years of being a runner I’ve done four 50K’s, three 50milers and one 100K. I’m looking forward to my first 100Miler.

No comments: