McKenzie River Trail Run / 50K
The McKenzie River
50k Trail Run was held September 10, 2005 at Carmen Reservoir.
My friend and
training partner Christian Beck has run many ultras and so
I tried to follow his lead in preparation and training for
this event. I felt ready.
I was trying to
keep a positive frame of mind. Anxiety lurked in the shadows.
Based on my training I knew I should be ready to run 50 kilometers
but anything can happen. I could fall. It was raining, but
was supposed to stop. What should I eat for dinner and breakfast?
Have I tapered enough? Maybe the Bohemia Half Marathon last
Saturday was too close. I've been sneezing and I have a hint
of a sore throat. Is it the beginning of a cold?
Walking into Harbick's
Country Store in McKenzie Bridge is like stepping into a time
warp. The classic "General Store." They have generally everything.
Hot food, cold food, dry goods, cleaning supplies, clothing,
fishing and hunting supplies, tools etc. My specific goal
was to find the right pair of gloves. I ran the McKenzie 50k
Trail Run in 2002 and fell six times. I needed gloves that
were light, breathable, but tough enough to protect the palms
of my hands when I fell. Not if I fell, when I fell. It was
inevitable. Strangely, it was never in the technical, rocky,
winding, chiseled lava sections, it was usually after that
when you take a deep breath and relax and start looking more
than three feet down the trail, or taking a drink of water
or messing with a GU pack. Catch a root or small rock and
Wham! Get up, brush yourself off and start again. Each fall
reminding you to pay attention and I managed to forget five
have a hundred and fifty types of gloves to choose from. I
settled on some stretch nylon gloves with rubber coated palms
and fingers. The rubber was a dense light gray coating that
I figured would do a great job of protecting my palms from
rocks and gravel. My thoughtful and caring wife Shelly thought
they might not breath enough so I cut the fingers off. Now
they resembled biking gloves. Perfect.
It rained continuously
Friday night and I revisited thoughts of running the race
in a downpour. That would not be fun.
Shelly, my sons
Weston, age four and Callahan, a year and a half and I spent
the night in a leaky teepee behind the Log Cabin Inn. Seemed
like a fine idea when we booked it a month ago when it was
90 degrees out.
I got up at 6:15
and it was raining lightly. I stepped in a puddle and my right
sock got wet. I hitched a ride with Jim and Dave to the start.
Pre-race at the
McKenzie Trail Run is like a reunion. Many in this unique
and eclectic crowd only see each other at ultra races. Smiles
and hand shakes created a very warm gathering on a cool, misty
Phil Vaughn is
the race director and he announced we had three minutes until
the start. The crowd stepped behind the line and Phil started
the race. It's about 50 degrees and not raining.
It was only then
the anxiety subsided. I was finally running the race I'd spent
so much mental and physical energy training for the last 5
The race leaves
Carmen Reservoir over the McKenzie and up the trail past Koosah
and Sahalie Falls. It is so beautiful and surreal you want
to stop and take it all in but I can't because I have a goal.
A time to beat. That time is 4:37:40. Christian's PR at McKenzie
is 4:37:41. What a coincidence...
The trail continues
up river and across the highway and around Clear Lake. There's
about a mile long out and back and we see the leaders coming
towards us bombing down the trail. The four lead runners remind
me of a fast moving train. The combination of speed and power
is impressive. John Ticer, a 48 year old firefighter from
Eugene went on to win the race for the second year in a row,
setting a course record in 3:42:50. Simply unbelievable.
I hit my splits
fairly close through the first two aid stations. I eat a brownie,
take a couple sodium/electrolyte capsules every hour, try
to drink a bottle of water between each aid station and I
feel wonderful. My water bottle leaks if I squeeze it too
hard so I have to carefully sip without applying too much
pressure. It's a minor nuisance.
I'm running at
a pace that feels effortless. Running shorter distances I'm
always pushing to keep pace, checking my watch each mile.
Up here you just run. You run at a pace you think you can
maintain for more than four hours. I run really well through
some of the most difficult and beautiful parts like the Blue
Pool area but I can't take my eyes off the trail for a second.
Every step is critical. No sight seeing today.
My only concern
now is my wet socks. By mile seventeen I really want to change
my socks and my crew, Shelly and the boys appear like angels
right next to the trail and help me change. I'm back on the
trail within minutes.
The minutes and
hours melt together as I cruise along fern lined trails, moss
covered rocks around tall firs and cedars and over log bridges.
I arrive at the fifth and final aid station at mile 25.1 and
I'm three minutes ahead of schedule. I feel awesome with six
miles to go. In fact I see three other runners so I leave
the water bottle at the aid station so I can run harder and
I target them to try and pass. It doesn't seem to be working.
They are slipping further away with each turn. Is it me fading
or them getting stronger? It must be a combination of both.
With three miles to go it's definitely me fading. I'm struggling.
With a mile and half to go I need to really concentrate hard
to keep running and try to ignore the pain in my tired legs.
I come around
a corner and a young kid calls out my number and I see the
finish line at the top of the hill.
The race is over
and I'm done. The clock reads 4:37:56, 16 seconds off my goal
and 18 minutes faster than 2002. I'm tired, teary, relieved
and very hungry. My crew attends to my every wish. I need
a chair to sit in and it appears. I drink two Pepsi's, eat
some brownies, a banana, orange slices, cookies and I'm feeling
better. I look down and realize my customized fingerless gloves
are clean and dry. I can't help but smile. It's the perfect
ending to an amazing and unforgettable race.
by thirteen minutes. He raises the bar by lowering his time
just when I thought I was closing in on him. I think the leaky
water bottle he loaned me was no accident.
More Race Reports by Todd Bosworth