I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There aren’t many places I’d rather be than summer in Oregon. And this week only reinforced that belief, thanks to the Portland Trail Series!
The Portland Trail Series is a low-key series of trail races held in Forest Park in Portland. Three five-race Series (Spring, Summer and Fall) are held Wednesday evenings from May-October, and each race covers a different, challenging course, ranging from four to six miles.
Here’s the summer schedule:
- Race 1 – July 15, 2015
- Race 2 – July 22, 2015
- Race 3 – July 29, 2015
- Race 4 – August 5, 2015
- Race 5 – August 12, 2015
First up was a 5.98-miler for the kickoff race this past Wednesday. And, as you can see, they stay true to the “low-key” description with a super mellow start — just two tents at the trailhead, plus a few self-serve jugs of water and electrolytes.
Although they capped registration at 150 runners, only 101 people showed up to run (so feel free to come with $20 cash if you want to drop into the next one).
Ben and I grabbed our bibs and promptly bumped into one of my running buddies (and badass triathlete) Anabel Capalbo who was there to cheer on her college roommate. Gotta love the small-town feel of Portland, especially the endurance scene!
Around 6:15 the race director gave us a quick run-down of the route, complete with a warning to watch out for owl attacks on one of the trails. My strategy for the evening? A) Run it for fun and enjoy the experience. B) Stick close to someone taller, in the event of an angry owl (thanks, Ben! #takingonefortheteam).
Each race in the series starts and finishes at the gate at the Leif Erikson trailhead. For this first race, we started on Leif Erikson and went up Leif to Wild Cherry, up Wild Cherry to Dogwood, then down Dogwood to Leif Erikson, then out Leif to Alder, up Alder to Wildwood, Wildwood to Wild Cherry, Down Wild Cherry to Leif and Leif to the finish.
Although I find it tougher to get pysched up for an evening race because I’m used to working out (and racing) first thing in the morning, we really couldn’t have had a more beautiful night for trail running. And after a casual countdown from 10, we were off!
After about a quarter mile down the main trail, we made our first turn and immediately started climbing up Wild Cherry. As far as trails go, this one turned out to be quite a zinger.
This is also when I felt my recent lack of trail running kick in. We were spoiled in SF with hill training built into nearly every run, and it’s clear that Portland’s flatness has softened me!
Because of the unrelenting ascent (and, let’s face it, my lack of recent trail training), I had trouble getting my heart rate down and breathing under control for the first mile and a half or so, so we alternated hiking the hills and jogging when it leveled off. After the initial climb, however, we were treated to a lovely downhill on Dogwood and had a blast bombing down the hill to try to make up some time.
After a series of rollers, there was another climb up Alder (read: more walk breaks!) before the final descent to the finish. Our final time was 1:01:36 — not a record-breaker by any means, but we were satisfied with the roughly 10-minute-per-mile average pace after a rocky start.
The best part? We get to do it all over again next week! Same place, same time, different route — so stay tuned for my report from race no. 2.
And for more information on the Portland Trail Series in the meantime, click here.