Tillamook Burn 50k Race Report – Elizabeth Carey

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Photo: Pursuit Films

Race: Tillamook Burn 50k

Runner: Elizabeth Carey

Race Date: 04/28/2018

Location: Tillamook State Forest, Oregon

Results: 2nd F / 8th OA

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1537935844

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

  1. Beautiful forest. The out-and-back course runs up and down along a river to a striking waterfall, and through lush groves of trees, ferns, burns and a bajillion shades of green.
  2. Amazing community. The turnout included a bunch of very nice humans who were fun to share this adventure with.
  3. Start/finish area. At Reehers Camp, they set up a campfire, kombucha and beer taps, a catchy folky-bluegrass band, plus a killer Mexican food truck. There were also lots of very cute doggos at the finish line, which lifted spirits.

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

Per usual, Daybreak Racing crushed it, so there’s nothing to complain about other than how I competed.

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

It’s half-way between Portland and the Oregon Coast, off Highway 26, on trails I’d never run before despite growing up in Portland. This race opened my eyes to Oregon’s hidden gems and deep network of breath-taking natural areas.

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

I paced myself, staying patient in the first half, in order to finish strong. In the second half, I was able to reel in a handful of people who’d passed me 8 miles in. I dug deep to chase down the front-runner but lost her on the last climb.

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

This course is full of fun rollers and poppers, thanks to a handful of water crossings, which surprised me. I prepared for the big climbs but not the consistently undulating terrain.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

The final climb comes at a hard time in the race but leads to a steep descent to the finish. I could be better prepared to fly down the switchbacks.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

This course is well-supported and runnable, but not without sneaky and sustained hills alike. It’s an out-and-back on single track, so you’ll be able to see who’s in front of and behind you at the turn-around.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

As you run into and through the forest you’ll see a range of vegetation, waterfalls, and all sorts of features. There aren’t a lot of sweeping vistas, but there’s plenty of beauty to behold.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Depending on what you’re used to, I’d say this course is moderately hard. The trails range from technical (roots, rocks) to hero dirt (soft, pine-needly dirt), so some foot skills are required — but there’s no crazy exposure or scrambling, so it’s ideal for a range of runners. A few sustained climbs made me power-hike and overall Strava reported nearly 7k ft of climbing.

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

Daybreak Racing, per usual, put on a wonderful, well-organized event.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

A decent field showed up, with the top women beating the previous course record. I expect this race to continue to draw more talent in the years to come.

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.

  • Registration was simple through Ultrasignup.
  • Logistics vary, dependent on whether you want to stay in Portland, near the race (camping is an option), or at the Coast. I stayed with family in Portland (easy) and then at the Coast after the race (easy and fun). After a fun night in Oceanside, we returned early in the morning to the race site for a friend to run the 20-miler. Commendably, a few people did the double.
  • Count on at least an hour drive from Portland and longer from the Coast to get to the start/finish area. Note: there’s little to no service at the start/finish area.

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

The most remarkable aid station featured — wait for it — people in tuxedos serving soft drinks in flutes on platters. A wide range of ultra food and drink was available at all the aid stations.

Weather and typical race conditions

We lucked out with mild weather for spring in Oregon. We had a chilly, misty start and then sun through the day. Prepare for precipitation.

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 outside of my normal longer-run trail-running kit.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are only a few locations where spectators can see you on the course outside of the start/finish area, but they work. The start/finish area is fabulous, so either way they’ll be entertained.

How’s the Swag?

Awesome; the awards are unique wood-cut sculptures and finishers receive very cool glasses.

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

5 stars. This race embodies what’s awesome about trail running and I highly recommend it.