Orcas Island 50k/25k -- Febraury 5 -- Eastsound, WA
As usual the year gets started off with the weekend long running party on Orcas Island with the 6th annual Orcas Island 50k/25k. Unfortunately for those of you not already signed up it's too late for this year-- the race reached it's limit in record time(about 6 weeks)!! But it's not too soon to start planning for the next one-- registration for the 2012 race will open at 8am on sept 1st 2011. Mark your calendars and be ready -- I expect the race to fill up that week maybe even that day!
Snow Fun 35m/22m -- February 26 -- Carlton, WA
Next up on the calendar is the brand new Snow Fun 35m/22m race on Feb. 26. The Snow Fun Races will start down in the Methow River Valley and climb steadily up snow covered forest service roads to the top of the Chelan Sawtooth Ridge which seperates the Methow River from Lake Chelan. These roads are groomed and compacted and unless we have a huge amount of snow overnight the night before the race they should perfect for running on--firm but not hard; soft but not too soft--like running on a large white trail. And the views of the surrounding mountains, and maybe the altitutde(5800-6550ft) up on the ridge, will take your breath away!
Gorge Waterfalls 50k -- March 12 -- Cascade Locks, OR
Another brand new race for 2011 is the Gorge Waterfallls 50k. This race is crazy full of waterfalls! There are so many I literally lost count! The course goes right past Wahkeena Falls, Fairy Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Falls, Dry Falls and a bunch that I can't remember the names of. Oh, and don't forget that the course goes right under Ponytail Falls! This point-to-point course is nearly all super fun single track trail that winds is way along the base of the Cascades Mountains where they come down on the Oregon side to meet the mighty Columbia River. The route is mostly in deep old forest with some enormous trees and moss is everywhere (in some places covering every inch of the surrounding ground). We are certain elves and gnomes live here. Occasionally the trail will pop out of the trees and you'll get great views of the river and the mountains towering above it.
Yakima Skyline Rim 50k/25k -- April 4 -- Ellensburg, WA
The Yakima River in between the towns of Ellensburg and Yakima forms a deep and winding canyon. High above the river on the canyon rim lies a specatacular trail-- the Yakima Skyline Rim Trail. Being East of the Cascade Mountains the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k/25k is definitely in the rainshadow and the dry climate means a low chance for rain and very little vegitation along the route. The lack of rain and vegitation equals a great chance for views of the river, the surrounding pleateau like mountains and of the Cascades on the horizon. The course is not totally barren, there is sagebrush, wild grasses and other shrub-steppe plants that are foreign to those of you coming from the wet(sic) side of the mountains-- and the first wildflowers of the year should be blooming. In addition to high probability of sun and views there is a 100% chance of above average elevation gain for both races making this a tough yet beautiful run.
Appalachian Trail Tour -- May 2 to May 6 -- Johnson City, TN
The first running tour of the year i'll be guiding with Adventure Running Comapny will be the 5 day, 82 mile Applachian Trail Tour in early May. Some of the finest open ridge running in the world can be found on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Tennessee. Our run will traverse the mile-high open "Balds" for many miles, rarely descending to the scenic valleys below. The trail, following the ridgeline for nearly our entire tour, often passes through scenic meadow and heath balds at places like Hump Mountain, Roan Mountain, Round Bald, Unaka Mountain, Big Bald and the aptly named Beauty Spot. Many Appalachian Trail veterans consider this segment of the Appalachian Trail, with its superb views from treeless meadows above 5,000 feet, to be one of the most beautiful and spectacular segments along the entire 2,178 mile length of the trail. You'll find the trail running sublime as you pass through these open meadows. In short, this is a trail runners paradise!
Sun Mountain 50m/50k/25k/1k -- May 22 -- Winthrop, WA
The 3rd annual Sun Mountain 50m/50k/25k/1k has moved to a new time of the year mid may to fully take advantage of the early season mountain running and to hit the peak of the bloom of the sunflowers(Balsam Root) which turn the hillsides yellow all over the Methow Valley each spring. The 50 mile course has also changed to reduce the number of road miles and to increase the number of views of the surrounding mountains. As Another race in the Cascade Mountains Rainshadow this should be a sunny, warm run on fun trails in a mix of forest and open sagebrush. With a good mix of runnable trails and steep hills these challenging but fun races have grown in popularity very quickly.
Beacon Rock 50k/25k -- June 12 -- N. Bonneville, WA
Another fun race in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the Beacon Rock 50k/25k. Accross the river from the Gorge Waterfalls course this race takes place in the Beacon Rock State Park. The route goes up and over Hardy Ridge and Hamilton Mountain(pictured above) both of which tower above the river. The trails are often in dense forest but like shown here every once in a while pop out of the trees and give the runners incredible views of the river and the cascades including the enormous Mt Adams and Mt Hood. And early June will be a great time to run here it'll be warm and probably sunny and everything will be so green!
Cle Elum Ridge 50k/25k -- June 25 -- Cle Elum, WA
The 16th annual Cle Elum 50k/25k has been moved to late June to improve the runner's experience(there should be much less dust) and to make room in the calendar for the North Cascades PCT 100k/50k which could only be scheduled in late September(Cle Elum's traditional date has always been the 3rd weekend of Sept.). This tough race has been a Northwest favorite for a long time and should continue to be so for quite some time. The trails are very popular with motorbike riders so they are rutted out, rooty, rocky and can be dusty if it's been dry prior to the race and all of these obstacles combined with a good bit of elevation gain and loss make this nearly all single track trail race popular with the runners too because if we wanted it to be easy we'd be running on the roads instead!
Hardrock 100 Race Course Tour -- June 30 to July 4 -- Silverton, CO
The Hardrock Tour explores the spectacular Hardrock 100 race course over the span of 5 amazing days! If you've always wanted to see and experience the Hardrock 100 course but didn't want to run it in less than 48 hours(the race cutoff) or if you're training for a future Hardrock race, this is your chance to see the trail at your own pace, during the daylight, with knowledgeable guides and excellent support the entire way. This is a difficult tour due to the the high altitude(average elevation 11,000ft and goes over 13,000ft a handful of times and over 14,000ft once) and the very rugged trails-- only very adventurous folks should consider this trip. Join us for the Hardrock 100 tour and experience for yourself why runners consider the Hardrock one of the most challenging and beautiful races in the world!
Tahoe Rim Trail Tour -- August 1 to August 5 -- Tahoe City, CA
The 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail circles one of the most beautiful lakes in the world - Lake Tahoe. It winds through Aspen meadows, skirts high mountain peaks and runs for miles along ridgetops with stunning views. On this 5 day 74 mile Tahoe Rim Tour we explore the eminently beautiful northeast segment of the trail with tremendous panoramic views, Mt. Rose, Marlette Lake, and spectacular boulders and rock outcroppings. Some of the most stunning views from the Tahoe Rim Trail can be found on this section. We'll stay in comfortable lodges along the way with shuttle transport to and from the trailhead each day. The trail is well developed and very runnable in most sections. You won't soon forget the beautiful blue lake you'll run high above on this tour.
Angels Staircase 50m/50k/25k -- August 13 -- Carlton, WA
This is one of those runs that will just knock your socks off! These difficult but oh so rewarding courses take you to some of the most spectacular places in Washington. High above Lake Chelan and the Methow River the Angels Staircase 50m/50k/25k races run up and over high open ridges at 8000ft(making it the highest altitude running race in Washington), through high alpine meadows and past pristine lakes. You have to earn the views with steep climbs and descents and a trail that is quite rugged times but boy is it worth it! The wildflowers should still be blooming and the weather should be perfect!
Wonderland Trail Tour -- September 5 to September 9 -- Mt. Rainier National Park
This 5 day tour will be entirely in the Mt Rainier National Park with 4 of the days covering the amazing 93 mile Wonderland Trail which circles Mt Rainier and is considered one of the world's most dramatic and scenic trails . As you travel around the mountain, you'll have the opportunity see its many unique and varied faces. You'll pass through several different life zones in the park including inland rainforests and subalpine meadows filled with wild flowers. The glaciers you'll see high above you create numerous rugged river crossings, two of which include suspension bridges to cross. And, while rain is always a possibility in the Pacific Northwest, we're planning our tour during the "dry" season. Running the Wonderland Trail Tour will be an epic adventure you won't soon forget!
North Cascades PCT 100k/50k -- September 18 -- Mazama, WA
This may be the best non-100 mile race course in the country! The North Cascades PCT 100k/50k (an out back for the 100k and a point to point for the 50k) arguably runs one the best sections of one the best long trails in the world. This section of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is well maintained, between Rainy Pass and Harts Pass(the two northernmost passes one can drive to on the PCT) runs high open ridges for the majority of the time(2/3 of the course is above 6000ft!) only dipping down to below 5000 for the middle 6 miles of the 31 mile section(the courses start at just under 5000ft at Rainy Pass but climb to 6000ft in the first 3 miles). On This Course you are surrounded by Wilderness, National Park and you never cross a single road-- this is as beautiful, stunning, and awe inspiring as running gets in the the Northwest!
Winthrop Road Marathon and Half Marathon -- September 25 -- Winthrop, WA
In it's first year(2010) the Winthrop Marathon proved to be quite popular and to be a good race to qualify for the Boston Marathon-- we had about 100 runners and about 25% of them BQ'd! For this year we've added a half marathon option that also should be pretty quick considering it too is a net downhill course-- the half marathon has 400ft net loss and the marathon has 1550ft net loss. Both courses are point to point courses on roads that get very little vehicle traffic and that closely follow the Chewuch River from the Okanogan National Forest to Downtown Winthrop(a small "western" town of about 500 people in the world famous Methow Valley). There are aid stations every 2-3 miles and a fun post race party at the finishline with local beer, food and live music.
Mt Spokane 50k/25k -- October 8 -- Spokane, WA
Why not squeeze in one more mountain race before the snow comes to the high country? Mt Spokane at 5,883ft is one of the highest peaks in Eastern Washington and is just covered in fun single track and double track trails. Standing all alone the mountain offers great views of the surround valleys and the distant mountains. The Mt Spokane 50k/25k will have everything someone looks for in a good trail race, big climbs, fun trails, nice views and a good challenge to reward ratio. And again as another race in the Cascade Rainshadow the odds of nice weather are pretty good.
Christmas at the End of the Road 5k/1k -- November 26 -- Winthrop, WA
This is a fun little road race, snow and ice covered road race that is. Traction Devices Recommended. But yes I did say it is fun! The race itself is low key and festive(costumes encouraged) but it's part of a huge weekend long winter celebration in downtown Winthrop with all kinds of fun things to do for the whole family including the inital lighting of the town christmas lights, top-notch fireworks and a visit from Santa. Check out the website for more info.
Deception Pass 50k/25k -- Dec 10 -- Oak Harbor, WA
It seems so fitting to wrap up the 2011 year with a race at Deception Pass, which like Orcas Island is in the Olympic Mountains Rainshadow and the trails and course are like a flatter version of the Orcas race. But don't be fooled by the fact that it's in a rainshadow-- it will probably rain on race day-- the Olympic Rainshadow isn't as strong as the Cascade Rainshadow but you'll definitely notice the different vegatation that comes with the lower amount of rain that the area gets. But even in the rain these trails are fun to run as they wind their way in and out of coves and penninsulas and up and over the short but steep coastal hills. And in both of theDeception Pass 50k/25k races you get to run over the Deception Pass Bridge twice! Also just like at Orcas we'll rent out the state park's environmental learning center for the weekend and have a big runner sleep-over party!