Race: Oregon Coast 50k

Runner: Stephen

Date: 10/7/17

Location: Yachats, OR

Results: 5:48:20

3 Bests –

  • The beach. I think if you have never run on the Oregon Coast – it’s a treat. If you have spent time running on beaches before- well then you are lucky…
  • The convenience of the main Hotel to the finish line. My hotel room was less than 100 feet from the finish line. It was really nice finishing and being able to go take a shower and come back to the post race festivities with warm dry clothes.
  • Getting to see my best friend finish his first 50k and absolutely crushing it!!! Way to go Erik!

Not so much –

  • Some people aren’t a huge fan of the beach run. It can be windy, and wet. Plus sand does not typically play nice in shoes.
  • The weather can be tricky. I have run this race twice and got lucky both years, but have heard before in prior years it rained and had 35 mph winds on the beach. It was gnarly.
  • The lottery. This is a very popular race, so there is no guarantee you will get in.

Weirdest thing –

  • There seems to be a theme with many of my races this year -and bees/wasps. This year was especially bad. I think over 100 people got stung – some multiple times. I got lucky and came away unscathed.

Highlights

  • Seeing my best friend complete a goal he’d been training for, for over a year.
  • Running on the beach
  • Running almost the exact same finishing time I did last year
  • Having my son at the finish line was fun (my wife expected me to “run” with him, but I picked him up and we finished with me holding him. He gave James Varner a high five which was fun!)
  • The after race festivities are great – TONS of food, and lots of options, pizza, vegan wraps, ginger tea, candy, coffee, beer, and so on.

Lessons for next time

I ran this race last year so I knew what to expect. Really two things:

  • Prepare for sandy feet, so either have a change of shoes/socks at the first aid station, or just be prepared for wet/sandy feet
  • Between the second and third aid station is the longest stretch. If it is warmer and you are a heavy sweater (I am) there is potential to run out of fluids. Last year I ran out. This year I came really close, but it was cooler this year.

Most Important Course specific knowledge

  • Don’t go out too fast. Yes the beach is flat and the sand is pretty compacted. It is easy to go out too fast and burn yourself out early. I did last year, and paid for it. I did better this year by slowing it down about 20 seconds per mile and then hitting the finish a bit harder.
  • The little neighborhood you run through on the way out, is the same one on the way back. That is how you will know you are getting close to finishing.
  • There is one little section where you are forced to walk, heed the signs and walk, it is out of respect to the trail system and the visitor center which allows the race to occur using their trails.
  • There is also a section of the trail that was built to honor a Native American named Amanda. There is a story about her that gets sent out in the pre-race email that is sort of sad, and it helps reminds me that we are so lucky to be able to do these great races.
  • Know that there is not a ton of restaurant options in town, and the grocery store is pretty small. So if you are picky on food, it might be worth bringing your own stuff, or do some research before going.

Aesthetics

Yes this is a pretty course. The one thing that is a bit misleading is that you do run through a little neighborhood, and there is a lot of time spent simply in the woods. The views on the trail are few and far between. You are not constantly on the coast line.

Difficulty

This is not an easy course for two reasons.

  • It is flat in the beginning, so the 5k of gain is all contained in the later 30k of the race.
  • The time cutoffs are meant to make it harder. Every year folks that would finish in other races get cut off because this race is a pretty solid 8 hr cutoff.

Organized and well run

Very well run. James Varner is the race director and he is an ultra-runner himself – if you haven’t heard of him – he does Hard Rock 100 and stuff like that. He’s an awesome guy and really nice. He puts on fantastic races all over the Pacific Northwest. He also does the trail running film festival.

Competition

Let me put it this way – last year I was 51st. This year I was 88th, and my time was within two minutes of each other. The competition is growing on this race. There was a solid group of hard core folks in this race this year.

Logistics

  • It is easy to get to and the convenience is second to none. IF you prefer to camp to save a bit of money – there are TONS of campgrounds within 20 miles of the race start. Some are even on the beach front.
  • There is a lottery to get into this race, and there is a lot of people that put in for it. When I asked James, he said it was about 50% this year to get into the 50k and 40% got into the 30k.
    There is also a 30k option on Sunday that does not run on the beach but runs the majority of the course.

Aid Stations

Great aid stations. One aid station usually dresses up and is really entertaining. Last year they were pirates, this year they were Vikings.

Weather and typical race conditions

This is what I discussed earlier. Prepare for wet and wild weather, but know that you can get lucky and have a dry day too. This race happens in October when the weather shifts and it can really be anything. Three years ago it was 35 mph winds and driving rain.

Gear

A vest is good here. A shoe change is worthwhile at the first aid station right when you come off the beach (about half a mile off the beach). Some of the faster folks just ran with a hand held which is always a possibility if that is your style.

Spectators

This is not a super spectator friendly course. Your family and friends get to see you at the first aid station (which is also the finish line) and then at the finish. That’s about it. If your family has knowledge of the course, there are a few other places they could go, but that is risky and is almost not worth it.

Awards

Everyone got a nice metal cup this year. Last year we got nothing. So James Varner is now seemingly starting to give something out to the finishers which I like…

Overall Score

I give this race an 8 out of 10. I would personally like there to be more climbing, and I also would like to run more on the beach (I guess that means the race would have to be longer!) Having done this race two years in a row, I clearly enjoy it. The little town of Yachats is a quaint little town and it is accommodating to the race crowd that shows up. The drive down from Seattle took about 6 hours and that is probably my biggest complaint. Driving home that long with sore legs makes them that much more stiff. Either way, the highlight remains getting to see Erik complete his goal and absolutely smash through a barrier that 2 years ago he would have never thought even possible.