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

orcas island trail marathon race report

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

  1. 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 top of second tallest mountain in the contiguous United States (Mt Constitution).
  2. The other participants, super friendly, supportive and fun!
  3. Trail was very well marked.

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

Having to share the trails with mountain bikes. Probably had to step off trail 8-10 times during race. However, I can’t fault anyone for wanting to be on these trails, and that is just how they enjoy them.
Parking near the start finish was very small, so much so, that my wife wasn’t able to get near enough to the finish to watch me cross the line. And this was a small field.

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

When I got smart, (about three miles into race) and settled in with a couple of other runners for about 10 miles, at about the effort level I should have been going all along, after starting at a too aggressive. Also had tummy issues about 16 miles in and went to strictly plain ole water for about 1/2 hour and settled it down. Love the downhills til I didn’t, quads started talking to me after about 4 miles of down right near the end.

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

As per all races, race YOUR race, and no you don’t need to catch up too…
Save it for later, two large climbs between 14-20 miles, followed by a 1,600 ft drop in two miles.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I need to not follow the compulsion to catch someone ahead of me, running my own race.
Also need to watch my hydration closer, felt I didn’t keep up. I may get away with in a marathon, but not so much in an ultra…

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There are hills that get up into the 30% slope range (only briefly) with approximately 6,000 feet of vert.
Mostly single track trail with some roots (not a lot), some spots of solid rock and others with crushed rock the size of baseballs. But, overall 75% or more, very easy dirt single track without many obstacles.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

GORGEOUS!!!! That is one of my favorite parts of this race. You get to run shoreline of two lakes, to the top of Mt. Constitution, in the canopy of the woods for most the course and the beautiful moss covered boulders in one place was so sweet, had to stop and take pics, also from the top.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

For the most part trail isn’t too technical, easily runnable (other than 4 main climbs for me).

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

Destination Trail did a fantastic job with this race. The aid stations were chockers full of everything you could want, from Tail Wind (my go to), Spring Energy, Candies, watermelon, nanners… The trail markings were easy to follow and volunteers were all so happy, friendly, helpful, YAY!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I think only 50+ in the Marathon that day, as the 50 mile race was also going on. There were definitely some very fast people out there.

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.


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

The aid stations were chockers full of everything you could want, from Tail Wind (my go to), Spring Energy, Candies, watermelon, nanners..

Weather and typical race conditions

Was a bit cloudy and about 49 degrees at start. about 55 and still cloudy at finish, though a very high percent of the time the trail is in the woods shading you from direct sunlight.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are a couple of places around the lakes where spectators could hang out to see the runners. Not much parking in any of these places, as the day went on more people came out to enjoy the day.

How’s the Swag?

A buff and medal.

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

5 of 5

orcas island trail marathon race report