Orcas Island 25k Race Report – Elizabeth Carey

Race: Orcas Island 25k

Runner: Elizabeth Carey

Race Date: 01/26/2019

Location: Orcas Island, Washington


4th female – https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=58181#id1246103

Strava Activity Link


orcas island 25k race report
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

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

  1. Scenery: What an incredible location to visit! It’s no wonder Oprah bought property on the island.
  2. Atmosphere: Rainshadow Running’s events really embody and foster the trail running community, with good vibes and great support.
  3. Terrain/trails: The trails and terrain are breathtaking, mossy, and magical.

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

No complaints here.

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

The weather! We lucked out with impeccable conditions, but I’ve heard tales of ice, snow, rain, mud, and more depending on the year. So prepare yourself for that.

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

Knowing there’s a big climb up Mount Constitution in the middle of the race, I took it out conservatively and remained patient through the first half, then worked my way up, literally and figuratively. As a rust-buster — aka my first race in a long while — I focused on the adventure itself, which made the killer climbs and screaming downhills more fun.

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

Portions of this course are steep and/or technical; be prepared for that and any inclement conditions which could render the trails slick or trickier to navigate.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Was I to race this again, or any of the other Orcas Island events, I’d be sure to more studiously focus on pushing the downhills in training leading up to the race. If you’re adept at downhills, you could roll more quickly in the second half of the race.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s uphill, on roads from the start, and then rolling along plush trails until a major climb that starts around 5 miles in. The course peaks on the top of Mount Constitution, so don’t be fooled by the flowy downhill section after climbing Power Line.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

This course is breathtakingly beautiful–misty, moody, green, and with lots of views depending on the clouds on race day. I spent some time in congo lines as well as by myself and appreciated the chance to take it all in.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

This course is tough but equally rewarding.

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

Rainshadow Running does a great job putting on races. The course was thoroughly marked, with sufficient aid stations, and the after party is impressive, with stellar music, drinks, and food.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yes, this race attracts solid racers, if not a cadre of pros this year.

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.

Like many Rainshadow races, entering this race involves a lottery. Pro tip: If you volunteer at a race you may earn a spot. Also, up to 7 days before the event you can follow Rainshadow’s clearly outlined process for handing off or picking up bibs. Check out their site for more info on that.

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

I didn’t stop at the aid stations — as I chose to carry my own water and fuel — but in passing the offerings looked comprehensive.

Weather and typical race conditions

As I mentioned, the weather for this race varies from year to year. This year we were blessed with mild conditions (40+ – 50ish degrees) and overcast/cloudy skies. The trails were only muddy in a few spots, with the remainder being hero dirt.

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

I didn’t need anything special for this race, other than my go-to trail-racing get-up of a hydration vest, hat, trail shoes, taller socks, etc. I wore a long sleeve and was roasting at some portions — until the top of Mt. Constitution, where it can get chilly. Depending on conditions, it doesn’t hurt to throw a shell and/or gloves in your pack.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

This course is a great one for spectators. Whether they hang out at the start/finish area, near North Arch, or climb (OK, drive) to the top of Mount Constitution, there are several spots where they can cheer.

How’s the Swag?

Rainshadow offers tech and thrift store tops and gear, with a beautiful race logo. Podium placers win growlers to fill.

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

12/10, highly recommend.

Elizabeth Carey is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Elizabeth, check out her coaching page.