Summary: The Orcas Island races are quintessential PNW races – challenging terrain, beautiful scenery (if the weather cooperates) and they bring a strong crowd of local Seattle trail runners and Rainshadow Running fans. With so many distance options, you have plenty of challenges to choose from! Information below is particularly helpful for the 100 mile an 50k distances:

Orcas Island 100 miler:

Lessons Learned from Race Reports

  • Race reports note a fair amount of runnable sections, at least on the first time through, with the exception of the Powerline climb, which brings you to Mt. Constitution. Many notes about the climb being a major grind and mentally tough, especially knowing you have to do it 3 more times.
  • Regarding the climb up to Mt. Constitution, one runner noted the first lap is about 50-80% runnable, 70% hiking by the 3rd lap, and all hiking by the 4th lap
  • Always easy to go out too fast, but that makes loop courses all the more difficult, especially mentally, with major slowdowns loop after loop
  • Lots of changes in body temps with how the weather can be at the top and bottom of climbs, so have some layers on you, as well as in drop bags/at aid stations for changes of clothing
  • With how many hours of darkness there are at this time of the year, have a great headlamp that’s super bright with plenty of backup batteries
  • With how long some of the climbs are, it’s best not to wonder when they’ll be over and just be pleasantly surprised when they are
  • The weather will likely vary a lot over the course of the race – have lots of clothing options and a change of clothes for each loop
  • Expect the second half to take longer simply because it’s in the dark
  • Lots of race reports talk about the first loop feeling way easier and faster than expected, but then it gets way harder after that
  • Laps 3 and 4 are all about how fast your slow pace is as you manage the same climbs but in the dark

Elevation

Total gain/loss: ~26,000/26,000

Ft/mile gain: 260

Total climbs: Four major per loop ranging from 800-1500 feet for each climb

Course Map / Elevation profile

Aid stations

Total aid stations: 5 per 25.2 mile loop

Furthest distance apart: 5.8 miles

Locations: Miles 4.7, 10, 14.1, 19.9, and 25.2 of each loop (25.2 is also start/finish); Bold indicates crew accessible

What’s available: Water, assorted GU (gels) + GU Brew, chips, fresh fruit, chocolate, pb & j sandwiches (and tortillas), soda, hot water, hot soup/broth, and a wide variety of other ultra fare

Crew access

Access Locations: Cascade and Camp Moran, available at Mt Constitution during the runner’s last lap.

Crew instructions/directions: Crews are limited to one vehicle per runner. There is no crew access at Mt. Pickett or Mountain Lake.  Crews may only provide aid to their runners at the designated aid stations; any help or assistance outside of the designated aid stations may result in disqualification of your runner.

Pacers

None

Race reports

https://teamrunrun.com/orcas-island-100-ricardo-h/

https://jordanmaki.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/orcas-100-race-report/

http://dirigoendurance.com/2016/02/27/670/

http://www.dynamicallyhuman.com/blog/the-2018-orcas-100-miler-my-first-hundred

http://jamiekingfit.com/orcasisland100/

https://bfcblackhorse.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/mulligan-an-orcas-island-100-race-report/ (good section by section descriptions and photos)

https://gabejoyes.com/a-whale-of-a-tale-2018-orcas-island-100/

Strava activities and GPX files

https://www.strava.com/activities/1401231768/overview

https://www.strava.com/activities/1419535534/overview

Race Website

http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/orcas-island-100m.html

How to Stay Warm at the Orcas 100

Orcas Island 50k:

Lessons Learned from Race Reports

  • Cupless race – bring your own cup/water bottle for liquids at aid stations and post-race
  • You will need a DISCOVER PASS to park in Moran State Park. Any runners who are staying overnight in the bunkhouses do not need a Discover Pass as it’s included in your overnight fee.
  • It is highly recommended that you make a ferry reservation for your trip.  They sail less frequently in the winter and certain sailing times WILL sell out. Follow this link to book your trip via Washington State Ferries: secureapps.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Reservations/Vehicle/default.aspx
  • Road running for the first ~3.5 miles as you head up the first climb of the day, about 1600 feet, which makes the climb more runnable, but still, you start out with a big climb
  • Typical Rainshadow run – fairly difficult course with lots of climbing, beautiful views (if weather permits), some aid but not tons, well-organized, and a good race atmosphere with other runners
  • Weather in February in the PNW – expect to be wet with minimal sun!
  • Fairly easy to find lodging nearby – see race website for more details
  • Have proper trail shoes – be ready for slick mud and rocks
  • Do your downhill training! Quads will be trashed by the end
  • Miles 5-9 of the course are fairly runnable
  • Miles 12.5-14.5 is a fast, wide, runnable downhill trail, followed immediately by a steep uphill – a tough transition to make
  • Miles 15.5-19ish are again, nice and runnable, until you reach aid station 3 (20.3) and the Power Line section
  • Power Line climb is 1600 feet from miles ~19-21.2 and is probably the hardest climb on the course (at least according to race reports) and the make or break section in the race. If you’ve got the legs to power hike this climb and still keep it together, you’re in a good place
  • Downhill off the power line climb is again fairly runnable
  • Steep set of switchbacks up the final climb to Mt. Constitution
  • Some steep, rocky, technical downhill stretches in the final 6 miles down from Mt. Constitution to the finish

Elevation

Total gain/loss: 8400/8400

Ft/mile gain: ~271

Total climbs: 6 major climbs

~1600ft miles 0-3.6, ~750ft miles 9-10.4, ~500ft miles 11.6-12.1, ~750ft miles 14.3-15.4, ~1600ft miles 19-21.2, ~1000ft miles 23.2-24.4

Longest climb: 1600ft miles 0-3.6

Steepest climb: 1000ft miles 23.2-24.4 (all but the first climb have a similar grade)

Course Map/Elevation profile

Aid stations

Total aid stations: 4

Furthest distance apart: 8.2 miles

Locations: Miles 5.1, 13.3, 20.3, and 25.6

What’s available: Fully stocked with standard ultra-fare, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches/wraps, fresh fruit, salty chips, pickles, GU brew, soda and water.

Crew access

Access Locations: Miles 5.1 (limited parking), 20.3, and 25.6 (if the weather is bad the park rangers may choose to close the gate, allowing only aid station volunteers.)

Crew instructions/directions: Will announce day of the race if crew access at mile 25.6 is closed due to inclement weather

Pacers

None

Race reports

orcas island trail marathon race report

Orcas Island Trail Marathon Race Report – Mark Droge

Race: Orcas Island Trail Marathon Runner: Mark Droge Race Date: 05/08/2021 Location: Orcas Island, WA Results: 5:48 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5264600518 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? This is by far the most beautiful run to date. The straits of Juan de Fuca, around a couple of lakes, along creeks, a waterfall and ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Tyler Sprague

Race: Orcas Island 50k Runner: Tyler Sprague Race Date: 02/01/2020 Location: Orcas Island, WA Results: 3rd OA Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/3066423971 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? 1. Views -- one of the prettiest races out there without venturing into true wilderness or deep into public lands/national parks. 2. People and community -- ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Jon-Erik J

Race: Orcas Island 50K Runner: Jon-Erik J Race Date: 02/01/2020 Location: Moran State Park, Orcas Island, WA Results: 2nd, 5:08:08 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/3067128328 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The race is held on an island in the San Juans of the Salish Sea giving this even a feeling of getting away, ...
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Orcas Island Half Marathon Race Report – Paul G

Orcas Island ½ Marathon – May 11, 2019 “This course is well marked! In fact, you’ll probably find it the best marked course you’ve ever run” I overhear the announcer say at the pre-race meeting. This is about all I glean from the pre-race meeting as we are saying good bye and good luck to our friends, family, kids and ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Yvonne Naughton

Race: Orcas 50K Runner: Yvonne Naughton Race Date: 02/02/2019 Location: Orcas Island, WA Results: 3rd Female 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? Location! It's difficult to top a magical PNW island when it comes to running a trail race. Race weekend is a very special experience from riding the ferry, experiencing the slow ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Amber P

Race: Orcas Island 50 km Runner: Amber P Race Date: 02/02/2019 Location: Moran State Park, Orcas Island Results: 8:15:55 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The course is fast and not super technical. In the right conditions, you can fly on the downhill. The scenery is amazing. You run past lakes and through ...
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Orcas Island 25k Race Report – Elizabeth Carey

Race: Orcas Island 25k Runner: Elizabeth Carey Race Date: 01/26/2019 Location: Orcas Island, Washington Results 4th female - https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=58181#id1246103 Strava Activity Link https://www.strava.com/activities/2105335799 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? Scenery: What an incredible location to visit! It's no wonder Oprah bought property on the island. Atmosphere: Rainshadow Running's events really embody and foster ...
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Orcas Island 25k Race Report – Paul Weeks

Race: Orcas Island 25k Runner: Paul Weeks Race Date: 01/26/2019 Location: Moran State Park, Orcas Island, WA Results: 2nd place, 2:08:38, https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=58181 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2105374065 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? The people. Rainshadow puts on great events that have a warm and local feel. Lots of smiling faces pre, during, and post-race. The ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Pritam D

Race: Orcas Island 50k Runner: Pritam D Date: 2/3/2018 Location: Orcas Island, WA Results: 8:10:25 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1390339932 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? Orcas Island in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and the views from Mt. Constitution are stunning! Tough race! 8400 feet of vert over 31 miles! Great race, friendly volunteers and ...
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Orcas Island 50k Race Report – Roey P

Race: Orcas Island 50k Runner: Roey P Race Date: 2/3/2018 Location: Orcas Island, WA. Results: 7:17 Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1390322486 3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most? Scenery: By far one of the most gorgeous routes I've ever run. Even though the top of Mt. Constitution was fogged in, there were plenty of waterfalls, ...
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Strava activities and GPX files

https://www.strava.com/activities/490758708

https://www.strava.com/activities/251757618

Race Website

http://www.rainshadowrunning.com/orcas-island-50k.html