I am a road racer and have been a competitor in the beautiful sport of running for a little over 20 years. Running trails has never been on my radar until we moved to Portland, OR (about a month ago) and my husband’s cousin asked me to team up with her for this race, the Wild Woman Marathon. Women were able to choose from the 50k, marathon, or you could split up the marathon into a relay, the latter is what we chose. My cousin was supposed to run the 50k with her friends, 50k for turning 50 years old (Yahoo!), but she suffered a minor knee injury which disrupted her training. Most runners had four legs, but Jody and I decided to split the marathon between the two of us. My speed usually prevents us from running together, but the fact that it was a relay and I am training for the Chicago Marathon, I thought it would be fun to be her teammate and get in a long run.
I was right. This run was one of my most favorites and it beat a solo run a million times over. It started with my joyful cousin and her happy, fun, endurance running friends. And then this…
What an awe-inspiring way to begin a weekend with some awesome women and some wild running. After I took in the sights around me, it was time to check-in and eat! The event organizers were some of the nicest I’ve ever come across. It was a low-key, family-like atmosphere, but with the organization of a major race. It was pretty much a runner’s dream – no pressure & no confusion.
We stayed at a nearby inn called, Trout Lake Valley Inn. A place so cute and relaxing, you’ll definitely want to stay a little bit extra.
Are these bears trying to tell me something?
After a night of relaxing, reading and some good sleeping, we were ready to rock! The atmosphere was easy, supportive, and full of encouragement. I think those three attributes combined are what made this event appealing to every women in attendance. As you can see below, the energy was contagious.
The coolest race map you will ever see is right below this paragraph. A human-sized map of the entire course and relay legs. I have been known to get lost during races and I was not worried one bit after reviewing it. Not only was the map accurate and easy to understand, the actual course was marked well at every turn, you were given a little map to run with if needed, and directions to each leg (if you were doing the relay) was clearly written and easy to navigate. Also, each aid station had exactly what these crazed endurance runners needed.
I began my part of the race at 10:30am and saw some truly talented, cheerful runners power through the intense uphills and super tricky downhills as I waited for my turn on the trails. When I saw my cousin approach, I jumped up and down like a high school cheerleader, gave her the biggest hug, and darted down the path. My mind got lost in the trails and my legs just kept moving with the earth, responding to it’s every turn, hill, and rock on my path. Every mile disappeared without a memory, as I was consumed with the wild around me.
The only problem that I seemed to run into was… a bear cub! Yes, the inn was trying to tell me something?!? On the second half of the marathon, my mile 4ish, I ran by a bear cub who was at the side of the trail. I thought it was a dog at first but then I realized it wasn’t and I sprinted past it. A few strides later I wondered if the confidence I had in my navigation skills was a mistake and I had taken a wrong turn, or even worse, it’s mama was up ahead. I immediately stopped right in my tracks and froze for a minute. I started clapping my hands, like the girls in the movie Parent Trap and shouted “Anyone there?” Luckily two more runners, one of them my cousins’ friend, came up the trail and the three of us sprinted through clapping our hands. I can laugh now, but I was fairly terrified in the moment.
About two hours after my wild journey began, it ended with a high-five from the race crew and open arms from my cousin at the finish. For the next couple of hours we cheered on the many wild women and our friends as they accomplished their goals, proving that tenacity and strength of your mind and body, can bring you farther than you can sometimes imagine.