Gorge Waterfalls 50k – Preview

The Gorge Waterfalls 50k is the first event of the year for me and it’ll be my longest run in a full 5 months. The run is this Saturday – less than 48 hours away – and I’m not nervous or anxious, but maybe I should be?

This post was started with the intention that I’d write up this great course preview with lots of photos and graphs and elevation profiles, but honestly other people have done it and they’d probably do it better than me, so instead, I’m pulling in descriptions and photos directly from the course website. It’s better this way, I promise.

Coverage for this race is ever increasing as it’s profile in the local and even national and global ultra community has increased year over year. The race has become so popular that they’ve stopped taking first come first serve entries and have turned to a lottery system. I was so lucky to be picked as one of the 300 entries for the 50k race! This year there will be a couple of live feed cameras streaming and live twitter updates from a few sources and of course beautiful race photography.

The race is chock full of super accomplished runners with amazing finish times and miles of experience at the some of the most prestigious ultraraces throughout the world and while I won’t “toe the line” against them, I will be on the same trail, running the same event, experiencing a shared moment.

I have five main goals for this race:
1. Make it to the Start Line.
2. Embrace the moment.
3. Finish.
4. Look around. Breathe. Smile. Remember.
5. Plan for the next event.

A few people have contacted me wishing me a good race and for that I’m truly grateful for the kind words of encouragement.

Finally, I’m running this race with the memory of my Grandfather who left this world one year ago today. He was and still is a constant presence in all our lives, a friend, a confidant, a son, a husband, a father, my Grandfather.


Without further interruption, Gorge Waterfalls 50k hosted by Rainshadow Running.

Video Preview (by Project Talaria):

Course Description (from Race website):
“This year the 50k returns to it’s original point to point format but will run in the opposite direction, heading west from Wyeth to Benson State Recreation Area. According to our measurements the course should be just about exactly 31.1 miles not short like the race has been the past 3 years.

The course is mostly 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 majority of the route is 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.

[The] race will go past all of the waterfalls that the original (2011) route went past (except Dry Falls) including Wahkenna, Fairy, Ocola, Weisendanger, Multnomah, Oneonta, Ponytail, and Elowah to name the major ones. The 50k will be a “point-to-point” course starting at the east end at Wyeth Trailhead/Campground and head west to Benson State Recreation Area… The Gorge Trail(#400) is the primary trail used but the route also uses a section of the PCT and other trails and unfortunately a 2.3 mile section of very low traffic paved road.  Rolling hills would be the best way to describe the majority of the course with the biggest climb on the course being about 1500ft but there are numerous 200-500ft climbs that add up to surprising amount of elevation gain–I used to tell folks it was an easy course but these climbs combined with the often technical trail make it for more of a moderate difficulty. Plus since it’s so scenic you’re gonna stop a lot to stare and take photos so it’s definitely not a “PR” course.     

Since the 50k is a point-to-point course runners will be bused before the race from the finish (Benson State Recreation Area) to the start (Wyeth Trailhead/Campground). Runner Check-In starts at 7am at Benson and the buses depart at 8am. It’s a 20 minute drive and the race will start at Wyeth at 9:00am. Runners will not be able to leave anything on the buses but we will have a vehicle available to transport “warm-up” clothes back to the finish.

The Columbia Gorge is home to more waterfalls than anywhere else in North America. The race runs by the base of and above the 620ft Multnomah Falls and passes numerous other large and small waterfalls, cascades and large creeks. In addition to all the waterfalls, the trail has lots of views out across the Columbia River to the Cascade Mountains to the north and the trail weaves it’s way in and out of deeply forested creek valleys with moss covering lots of the surroundings making for a very scenic course even without the big falls!”
Elevation Profile (From Race website):

2014 Gorge Waterfalls 50k Profile FinalLive Camera Feeds (by Paul Nelson):
http://new.livestream.com/100milesisnotthatfar/events/2870192

Live Twitter Feed (By Uphill Running):
https://twitter.com/uphillrunning

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