Elkhorn Crest 50 mile Race Report – Andrew K

Race: Elkhorn Crest 50

Runner: Andrew K

Race Date: 07/25/2020

Location: Sumpter, OR

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=70699

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/3817203313

elkhorn crest 50
Photo: James Holk

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Remote-ness – Course gets you up and out fast from anything so it really appeals to a wilderness trail run.
  2. Free 3 miles! Billed as a 50 but you get 3 ‘free’ for a 53 mile course. Who doesn’t want free stuff! 🙂
  3. Start/End in Sumpter ‘fair grounds’. Given COVID it was more social distance camping but in out years I can see how this would be festive vibe.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

  1. Rocks and Vert. Some of the downhills and climbs are steep and long. It felt like a lot of the running was pounded out scree fields, so lots of pounding on the feet. This course will beat you up.
  2. Not a lot of shade so expect to be in the sun.
  3. Course was mix of out back’s so I didn’t like this ‘oh boy, I gotta back here again…’ mental feeling in the siege. Some folks may like the ‘known’ but I prefer a course to all new in the miles to come.
  4. Early bus ride to the start. It’s short but just means you are up even earlier to eat.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Well, COVID. I am so….grateful they went ahead. They really did a great job with a pragmatic and safe approach in week prior to aid stations etc. Outside of a pandemic, I didn’t find anything ‘odd’.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I enjoyed the elevation at 5K to 8.5K above sea level. The ridge running and passes give you HUGE and ‘bigly’ views for forever into the Oregon Cascade range.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

Prepare for rocks, wear ankle socks, maybe short running gaitors. Nutrition was hard given COVID rules and distance between aid stations might make some think about hydration needs of a bladder vs a bottle etc.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

My personal lessons were this course isn’t easy to get to for me (Seattle to Sumpter). It took 2.5hr longer than anticipated so late bedtime, early rise, remote setting means camping so bringing more and better food. Post run, the town was shut down so a second night of camping was needed and I didn’t have the right supplies.

Also, more vert training for the climbs. GPS Watch with better battery! I lost battery for a bit and had to run with a charger connected to my watch. Threw of my distance.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Just pay attention to the course profile pre-race to know your climbs.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes. The expansive views are huge. Some lakes, some forest. At one point you are on the ridge and see Baker City OR and into Oregon’s vast, flat plateau it makes you appreciate the diversity of this state’s topography.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes. It chewed me up.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Yes, I think Alpine Running did a great job, especially in a COVID world. Communication was great and everything went off without any issues.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Everyone seemed to be better than me this day so I’ll say YES! 🙂 Actually given the CR, relative short life of this race, I expect it will grow and become a must do for 50 miler crews. I found it harder than the White River 50 or the Tahoe 100K.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Not many hotels local. Baker City is 35 miles away. So that is your HQ if you need stuff etc. Sumpter is an old mining town, so it’s small, not much there. The ‘mayor’ had to come turn on the water for the showers. Bring quarters! You need them to run the showers.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard stuff. All were fully stocked, great volunteers, seats if you wanted them and Adventure medics at all stations.

Weather and typical race conditions

Blue bird sky, cold start! 37 degrees but FAST warm up once sun came up into 70’s.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Poles! I’d take them to save yourself.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

COVID world so none. But given parts of the trail were accessible I can see how this would be great for some to ‘hike in’ a bit to see you.

How’s the Swag?

Just fine. I had to buy a shirt ($5) but it was a prior year Territory Running Co shirt so steal for $5. Just a medal, no ribbon attached so made my own.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

3.5 stars of 5. Not higher because of the price and lack of swag. Then again, a remote course costs money to pull off so I also get it. I took off .5 point just out of spite for my own lack of proper planning here on drive, sleep, food etc. So yes I am taking it OUT ON THEM so add .5 back if you want to a 4. Course will push you, higher elevation etc.

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