Summary: Mary’s Peak 50k race report from Team RunRun athlete Andrew Kisslo, from the 2021 race. He shares course specific knowledge, gives advice for other runners, and gives you a great sense for the feel of the race. Read on to learn more and see if this race is for you!
Race: Mary’s Peak 50K
Runner: Andrew Kisslo
Race Date: 5/15/2021
Location: Blodgett, OR
Results: 11th OA; 1st AG – https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=78134
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5303212746
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
1. Good long climb from start. All runnable and great to get body moving and ‘just keep swimming…’.
2. Views – Rewarding at top of Mary’s Peak, 360 degrees really great to look coast to the mountains, north & south
3. Free hot food at end, bowls, fresh quesadillas, etc.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
1. % of logging road on the course. When we were in the forest, single track, it was great. There just wasn’t enough of it.
2. Time Trial – Rolling Start. COVID protocol let you step to the chip start in 30 mins whenever you wanted. So it was a time trial race and you had no idea where you were, which racers you needed to pass/hang with.
3. Lodging – We decided to stay in Newport, OR at the coast. It was 15 degrees colder and fog/overcast. We froze everyday and the town has a few places to eat, good organic food market but not much else.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
The rolling time trial. This is likely a one off year with COVID protocols to spread runners out. The ‘Castle’ house you pass at mile 31 was a random surprise. There is one portion at miles ~25 where you enter this forest that is so dark, it’s literally dark, very little sun light. Trail is new and not great but it was like being in Hansel Gretel fairytale where a witch and goblins might appear at any minute.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I was coming off a multi-month injury with not a lot of running volume under my belt. I did better than my expectations on the climbs. I was faster overall than I expected. I had not run more than 15 miles in 6 months so once I got to miles 22-28, I was feeling the pounding and had to slow down.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
1. Make time on the first climb to the peak. It is runnable, a mental grind but you will gain time and confidence here, especially when you pass folks here.
2. The downhill off of Mary’s Peak is runnable, so fly, some sections are technical (roots, rocks, small drops) but it’s really runnable.
3. The back half of the course ~15 miles to finish is much harder than the first. The rolling nature and climbs are larger than the course profile leads on. So be prepared for this part with strong climbing, good pacing but run, run, run the last 3 miles all out.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Save yourself for second half. The rolling hills and two climbs are harder than the profile seems to lead you.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
I found it an odd course b/c it had no real consistency. There are pretty sections but I would not call this a ‘pretty’ course. There were a lot of visual transitions. Rocky road to the summit, great PNW forest descent, into a different forest of trees that was nothing like the descent, back to rocky roads but now curvy, into a sun exposed road, then into dark forests you can’t even see the sky, etc.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
If you don’t like a long climb, it’s tough. I found the second 16 miles the harder part. I did not find it ‘technical’ in any sections.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Yes, it was actually well done from check-in to final tally. Course marked well, aid stations stocked.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
‘ish’ – With Oregon State down the road, felt like there were some speedy younger folks. I did race with women who were top 15 at Western States.
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.
UltraSignup, easy peasy. It does compete with the GoBeyond race at Smith Rock the same weekend.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Standard. Given COVID small selections but individual PBJs, water, coke, a few granola bar flavors.
Weather and typical race conditions
It was a glorious day. 50 at the start into full sun and 70 at then end.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I did use my poles in sections and found them worth the packing.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Yes in that the aid stations are accessible, the peak has loads of parking. ‘On’ the course they are public trails so if you want to hike in you can.
How’s the Swag?
Trucker hat and pint finisher’s glass with race logo. Medal for Top 3 age groups. Shirts/hats for sale extra. Goodie bag were samples and coupons.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
7 of 10 as the rolling start, choppy visual appeal of the course. It’s WORTH doing and a good challenge.