Pushing the limits of human endurance
Runners challenged the limits of human endurance Saturday at the Ochoco Trail Runs.
The event, which began at the Walton Sno Park, included 100K, 50K and 10.5 mile runs.
"We had a good turnout," race director Janessa Taylor said following the start of the event. "I think a lot of people have kind of heard about the Ochocos, but a lot of people haven't been out here, so it will be interesting toward the end of the race what everyone says."
The race, which was a qualifier for the UTMB (Ultra Trail Mont Blanc) world Summit of Trail Running, attracted runners from throughout the United States.
"A lot of ultra-runners, myself included, tend to travel around to see lots of stuff," Taylor said. "We want the race to be a destination race for sure and an annual event for sure."
Ashley Goodman, from Boone, North Carolina, said prior to the race that she was excited for the challenge.
"We do an annual western trip with my family, camping and things like that, so we wanted to do Oregon this year," Goodman said. "So I looked for a race in Oregon to be my first western ultra that I have ever done. Usually for me, it's much more competitive, but this time it's just to finish because we have a week of camping after this and I don't want to ruin that."
Goodman was not the only runner from the East Coast to enter the race.
Joe Schramka, from Washington, D.C., entered the race almost on a whim.
Schramka was in San Ramon, California, on business on Friday. Instead of returning to D.C. late Friday night, he searched for a race on the West Coast.
"I've been trail running for nine years," he said. "I use trail running as a means to travel and to see different parts of the country. So instead of flying home on a Friday and getting back at 1 a.m., I often do these impromptu trail races. I just happened to find this race, and it looked like a beautiful area, and I said, 'I have to do this,' so I just hopped on a plane to Portland, drove down last night, stayed in town, saw a little bit of the town, woke up in the morning and here I am."
Nine runners left the starting line at 6 a.m. for the 100K run, a 61-mile jaunt that summited both Round Mountain and Lookout Mountain twice during the course of the race.
"I've done three 50Ks and a marathon and all that other stuff," Prineville's Aaron Haskett said minutes before the start of the 100K. "This is just the next challenge. This being my first one, I just want to finish it just to experience what 61 miles is going to be like. I've been waiting for this for months. I was running 40 to 50 miles a week, which I think was not enough, but being a full-time parent and having a full-time job, to fit that stuff in is tough. But good luck to all the racers, and I will see you at the finish line."
After struggling with elevation gain and loss as well as high temperatures later in the day, just three runners managed to finish the course.
Unfortunately, Haskett wasn't one of them.
Christof Teuscher, of Portland, was in control of the race from the start, winning by nearly an hour with a time of 12:45.51.9.
Teuscher said that he was using the race as a training run for the UMBT, which he is running in later in the summer.
"I'm training for two really big races in Europe later this summer," he said. "It's a 100 miler and a 200 miler. They are right after each other, a week apart, so I'm staging three races. This is the first one of three, all one week apart to get me ready for these two big races."
Teuscher added that despite more than 12,000 feet of elevation gain during the 61 miles that this race is flatter than any of the other races he is entered in.
"I'd say for me it's probably medium in terms of effort and challenge," he said. "You can wing a 50K, but a 100K, that's a different story, it beats you up quite a bit. I have another 100K next weekend and then a 100 miler the week after that and both have way more elevation gain than this loop, so it's going to be progressive."
Teuscher said that he carefully prepares for races, including taping the hot spots on his feet to prevent blisters and having a drop bag with supplies.
"I do this to explore my limits, to see how far I can push myself," he said. "It's all a matter of training, ultimately. By discovering your limits, you are learning a lot about yourself, and I think that's really interesting."
Teuscher added that he expects running a 100-mile race followed a week later by a 200-mile race to be the ultimate challenge.
Dan Moeller, also of Portland, was the second 100K runner to cross the finish line, with a time of 13:44.48.
The final runner to finish the course was Wendy Jacobs, who finished with a time of 16:37.08.3.
Most of the remaining competitors in the 100K made it to the half-way point, switched to the 50K at that point, although a couple continued past that point, but failed to make the time cut offs to finish the race.
The 50K, or 30.5 mile race, was a different matter, with 31 runners starting the race and most finishing.
That race, which also summited both Round Mountain and Lookout Mountain, followed the same loop as the 100K run, but ran the loop just once.
With more than 6,000 feet of elevation gain, including more than 3,000 from near Ochoco Ranger Station to the top of Lookout Mountain, the course still proved to be difficult.
"It was a beautiful course, but very challenging," Schramka said. "Lots of elevation climb that I'm quite not used to, so that was a real challenge. It was probably 50-50 the climbing and the elevation. There is a significant climb in this race, probably approximately eight miles worth of climb, just steady uphill, so I used trekking poles to kind of relieve stress on my muscles, but altitude gave me a problem when I was at the top of the course. I did vomit, but after that I felt great. I just kind of walked it in after that."
Matt Palilla, of Bend, won the 50K race with a time of 4:31.21. He was followed to the finish line by Kami Semick, also of Bend, who finished with a time of 5:35.59.
"It was a super fun course and a good area," Palilla said. "The trails were remote, and it's a place that I don't think a lot of people get out and run at. It's kind of nice to come out here and see some different trails. It's just a beautiful area."
Semick also liked the course.
"I thought it was good," she said. "It was great single track, and it was very challenging. I used to do a lot of ultras, but I've taken a nice big break and now, it's just for fun. The soft single track, the shade, were nice and the climb up to Lookout Mountain was gorgeous. That was fun."
Dean Morris, of Klamath Falls, was third with a time of 5:39.53. He was followed by Valerie Ells, of Bend, who finished in 5:46.16.
"I run a lot of marathons, but nothing on a trail," Ells said. "I went to a panel at Foot Zone one night about women in ultras. Kind of things to know and tips and tricks and stories, and I actually won a free entrance to this race. I couldn't say no."
Ells added that to prepare for the race, she switched her training runs to a lot more hill work.
"I ran a lot of Pilot Butte repeats at early hours of the morning before work," she said. "It was totally different terrain than anything on the road that I've ever done, but the challenge was part of what is so appealing about it. It's nice to mix it up and see what your body is capable of. I'm completely wiped out in a whole new way, but it feels amazing."
Megan Myers, of Bend, was fifth in 5:57.01, while Lance Waitjen, of Prineville, was sixth with a time of 6:04.08.
Goodman finished fourth in the women's race with a time of 6:50.13, while Schramka was the 10th man to finish with a time of 7:42.45.
"People ask me all the time why I do ultras," Goodman said. "I usually just joke that it gets the crazy out, but it's just so freeing for me to just run in the woods just to see what this 43-year-old body can do. I love it."
In addition to the two long races, there was also the shorter, but still challenging 10.5 mile race, an out and back race, which summited Round Mountain.
Peter Curran, of Bend, ran away from the field, taking control on the first hill, and steadily increased his lead as he won with a time of 1:23.17. Mark Amondson, of Redmond, was second in 1:29.43.8. He was followed by Chuck Coats, of Prineville, who finished in 1:35.39.
Caitlyn Reilley, of Corvallis, was the first woman finisher and fourth overall with a time of 1:41.36.5. Prineville's James Blanchard was the fifth finisher with a time of 1:42.34, while Jill Welborn, also of Prineville, was the second woman finisher and was ninth overall with a time of 1:52.00.
The race helped raise money for both the Crook County High School and Redmond High School cross country teams.
"It was great organization, and I'm really pleased that the money is going to the cross country kids to support the teams," Semick said. "That's a big reason I came out."
The one thing that all the racers seemed to have in common was an appreciation of the scenery, especially at the top of Round and Lookout Mountains.
"Absolutely 100 percent, I will be back," Schramka said. "This area is really intriguing. It's got a unique landscape. The fact that you can see Mount Hood and the other mountain ranges and just that it's a different part of the country that people need to explore. I think that people go to Portland and they might go to Mount Hood or to the beaches, but there's something unique about this place that I think is really worth folks coming from out of town and checking it out."
Schramka added that not only will he be back next year, he is planning on bringing as many friends from Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore area as possible.
"You live in a unique place," he said. "Don't take it for granted. It's a special place. I really enjoyed the town and the people are friendly."
Ells agreed that the Ochocos are a beautiful place.
"It was a beautiful race," she said. "The climbs were horrible, but so rewarding at the top and the vantage was beautiful, so it kind of pays off all the pain you put in on the way up. It was a beautiful race. Awesome crews. The volunteers were fantastic, the race director was amazing. It was a great one. I would suggest it for anyone to go try it next year."
Ochoco Trail Runs
Saturday, July 22
at Walton Sno Park
100K Men— 1. Christof Teuscher, Portland, 12:45:51.9. 2. Dan Moeller, Portland, 13:44:48.0.
100K Women— 1. Wendy Jacobs, 16:37.08.8.
50K Men— 1. Matt Palilla, Bend, 4:31:21. 2. Dean Morris, Klamath Falls, 5:39:53. 3. Lance Waitjen, Prineville, 6:04:08. 4. Alex Jacobson, San Jose, California, 6:10:02. 5. Justin Grady, Bend, 6:33:13. 6. Eric Collier Gilroy, 7:03:40. 7. Tom Cillier, San Francisco, 7:21:12. 8. Andrew Osborn, Portland, 7:32.55. 9. Dust Tipton-Johnson, Eugene, 7:36:18. 10. Joe Schramka, Washington D.C. 7:42.55. 11. William Wonder, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 7:47:28. 12. Kris Clark, Sisters, 8:02:45. 13. Sam Collier, Nampa, Idaho, 8:12:02. 14. Benjamin Redwine, 8:15:38. 15. Greg Vogel, Shoreline, Washington, 8:20:20. 16. Stephen Crozier, Bend, 8:28:29. 17. Gary Redwine, Newberg, 8:56:59.
50K Women— 1. Kami Semick, Bend, 5:35:59. 2. Valerie Ells, Bend, 5:46:16. 3. Megan Myers, Bend, 5:57:01. 4. Ashley Goodman, Boone, North Carolina, 6:50:13. 5. Stephanie Waritz, Bend, 6:58:19. 6. Michele Desilva, Bend, 7:28:05. 7. Kelly Wonder, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 7:47:28. 8. Sarah Duncan, Portland, 7:55:29. 9. Ann Petersen, Redmond, 8:05:59. 10. Shannon Haida-Wipf, Tigard, 8:09:22. 11. Terri Rashid, Prescott, Arizona, 8:13:05. 12. Cheri Redwine, Newberg, 8:15:38. 13. Nancy Cameron, Wilsonville, 8:36:47. 14. Mary Popish, Eugene, 8:51:37. 15. Jori Umphress, Eugene, 8:51:38.
10.5 mile Men— 1. Peter Curran, Bend, 1:23:17. 2. Mark Amondson, Redmond, 1:29:43. 3. Chuck Coats, Prineville, 1:35:39. 4. James Blanchard, Prineville, 1:42:34. 5. Matthew Wissbaum, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1:42:34. 6. Levi Nichols, Prineville, 1:47.34. 7. Evan Johnston, Portland, 1:47:46. 8. John Swenson, Bend, 1:49:53. 9. Chris Brown, Portland, 1:53:11. 10. Alexander Berres, Portland, 1:56:16. 11. Scott Abrams, Bend, 1:56:54. 12. John Weinsheim, Bend, 1:57:19. 13. Charles Ryan, Sisters, 2:03:30. 14. Todd Detwiler, Bend, 2:05:18. 15. John Baker, Sunriver, 2:06.5. 16. Marc Brewer, Portland, 2:07:26. 17. Joshep Baker, 2:14:57. 18. Scott Green, 2:17:20. 19. Ty Dunaway, Prineville, 2:24:42. 20. Richard Rashid, Prescott, Arizona, 2:39.38. 21. Sam Swan, White Salmon, Washington, 2:40:11. 22. Rafael Hernandez, Malin, 3:03:15.
10.5 mile Women— 1. Caitlyn Reilley, Corvallis, 1:41:36. 2. Jill Welborn, Prineville, 1:52:00. 3. Sophia Redwine, 2:02:23. 4. Julie Nist, Corvallis, 2:07:02. 5. Heather VanDalta, Bend, 2:12.08. 6. Suzanne Seaton, Bend, 2:21:27. 7. Christina Luchetta, Portland, 2:27:.26. 8. Kelsy Scott, 2:27:34. 9. Jessica Black, Portland, 2:29:12. 10. Anna Osborn, Corvallis, 2:30:41. 11. Sue Schumacher, Bend, 2:38:40. 12. Holly Mizer, Prineville, 2:57:53. 13. Robin Angemi, Boise, Idaho, 3:00:03. 14. Monica Hicks, McKinleyville, California, 3:03:13. 15. Mi n Leauwen, Portland, 3:10:06. 16. Jennifer Fischer, Sunriver, 3:28:00. 17. Jane Updegrove, Riggins, Idaho, 3:35:11.