Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fastpacking a New Washington/Oregon 200: Part 1

I came away from organizing the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run with even more energy and inspiration to create another 200 mile event. I felt like I could've gone either way: never wanting to direct another 200 or be enamored with the distance. Happily, it was the latter. I chose Washington for obvious reasons: it is chock full of amazing mountains and extremely varied terrain and it is my home state, so I know it very well.
Coldwater Lake
This new race course will (assuming permits go smoothly) begin near Mt. St. Helens in South Washington State and head Northeast toward Mt. Adams. Before reaching the Mt. Adams Wilderness, the course will head South and run all the way to Oregon finishing just over the border and right after crossing Bridge of the Gods and the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, in Cascade Locks, OR.
Bridge of the Gods
I have learned a lot about myself through ultra distance running and one of those things is that I continually seek to make things more difficult for myself. I say this with no judgement, it is an observation. When I envisioned a race at Tahoe I envisioned the most incredible traverse of the area that would be just one single loop circumnavigation of the largest alpine lake in the United States. The rest is history. The race was an instant success and I was overwhelmed by athletes wanting a chance to run this historic, first ever single loop mountain 200 miler in the USA.
Celebrating the finish of the 2014 Tahoe 200 Sept. 9
As I drove toward my destination last Tuesday, the start of my 3 day fastpack trip, I felt fear. Fear of night, of being alone, and fear of the unknown. I kept going fueled by something I couldn't quite understand. It was what kept bringing me out to these remote places. There is this intense sense of purpose, as overwhelming and powerful as a tidal wave, that drives me to adventure, the mountains, and to create these insane race courses. As an ultrarunner, even when I'm out in the most remote locations, I'm never really that far from civilization, even when I am. That is, unless something goes wrong. Without these adventures, full of fear and purpose, I'd rather die. So die doing them or die without them. The risk is clearly greater in not doing them.
When I get an idea in my head I cannot stop until I've accomplished it. Shouldn't be long now :)
I am hoping that my Washington/Oregon 200 miler (to be named soon!) will provide runners with yet another opportunity to run a multiday event through the mountains in a point to point traverse of some of the most incredible mountain on the West Coast. The race, as envisioned will feature Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, long exposed mountain ridge lines, dark mossy old growth forests, misty mountain lakes, roaming herds of elk and perhaps a Bigfoot or two. I'm posting a number of photos from my fastpack of the first 100 miles of the course. There will be a part 2 with photos from the second 100 miles after I fastpack it next week.

Some quick details about the new race:

Proposed race date: Aug 7-11, 2015 (4 days /100 hr cut off like the T200, but possibly a 4.5-5 day cut off depending on findings from my fastpack adventures)

Registration date: TBD, depends on permits. Hoping for Nov/Dec. What type of entry? Most likely first come/first serve (my preference), but possibly lottery if we are limited to fewer entrants.

Elevation Gain: Between 50,000-55,000 Slightly more descent than ascent according to Caltopo

Mileage: Around 215 miles. Caltopo says 200, but it's already coming out longer in the first 100 miles.

Start: Washington State, near Mount St. Helens

Finish: High School in Cascade Locks, WA

Entry Limit: Again, depends on permits. I will ask for 140 entrants and go from there.

Race will be very similar to the Tahoe 200 with 4-5 Sleep Stations, well stocked aid stations 7-20 miles apart, full medical & communications team.

ALL details subject to permitting and may change which is why I'm not getting into specific trail names.

Breeze, rain, mist, it was cold in early October! 

See the elk?


  1. You live in a really beautiful part of the world. I hope to run 100 miles one day, in the far far future, so you might see me at the start line one day!

  2. The course looks amazing! You could name the race after Bigfoot! :-)

  3. Beautiful sights!! Well done!!
    I love this area for hiking too.


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