Orcas 50k – Stephanie G

Race: Orcas Island 50k –  http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/orcas-island-50k.html

Runner: Stephanie G

stephanie gundel
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Date: 2/6/2016

Location: Orcas Island

Distance raced and other options: 50k. 25k is the week before and the 100 miler is two weeks after the 50k.

Results: 90th overall, 11th female; 6:23.15.

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

  1. The views. I love running near the water, and there seemed to be water everywhere you looked on this course.
  2. The trails were soft, beautiful, and largely runnable.
  3. The option to wait inside prior to the race. Didn’t really need it this year, but it would be a really nice option if the weather was cold and wet.

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

  1. Would not recommend catching the 5:30am ferry the morning of the race. Makes a really long morning before you even start running, and the earliest you can arrive at the race is about 30 minutes prior to the start. I usually like a little more cushion.
  2. I know lots of races are going cupless, and it’s better for the environment, but I’m not quite past the inconvenience factor yet. All I had was a bladder so I couldn’t grab any coke or drinks other than water. Guess I need to get a cup.
  3. The (non) transfer policy. It didn’t affect me, but it did friends. I know races oversell with an expected no-show rate, but it’s still frustrating sometimes.

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

There’s actually quite a bit of road at the start.

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

I wasn’t sure I was up to the distance that day and decided to not stress out about time. I had a much more social race than I usually do which made the time fly by in the first half. Still felt pretty fresh in the second half and enjoyed catching people along the course. Also, every once in awhile I remembered to look around and enjoy the scenery!

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

Powerline is as hard as people say, and at times I felt like I was making no progress, but it eventually does end.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?


Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I thought it was hard, but not overwhelmingly hard. Similar to Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon maybe. The only other Rainshadow Runs I’ve done are Deception Pass and Beacon Rock – it was harder than both of those.

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

Well organized! Although I heard that trail markers got moved which caused some mishaps.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Seemed strong, and more male dominant than most runs.

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.

Requires being selected in the lottery, which is unfortunate if you’re trying to do the race with somebody. Ferry reservations recommended going and coming home. Haven’t had a problem finding a place to stay on the island – either Doe Bay or Rosario. Lots of camping too.

Aid Stations

4 aid stations. No cups.

Weather and typical race conditions – I think we got lucky this year – 45 and partly sunny! I’d do it every year if I could be guaranteed that weather. But it is in February…

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

Nothing special

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not great – they can be at 2 of 4 aid stations though.

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

Highly recommended

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