How do two race coordinators come up with the concept of a six-part mountain trail running series that boasts epic views and lung crushing climbs?
On a trail run, of course.
Trevor Hostetler and Todd Janssen were scouting the course for the Mountain Lakes 100-miler, which occurs Sept. 28-29, when they stumbled on an idea. Why not have a trail racing series that includes long and short races?
“We sort of conceived of this idea of the trail series, trying to bring more people into the sport and enjoying the trails here in the Northwest,” Hostetler said.
And so the Northwest Mountain Trail Series was born.
With trail running growing in popularity, Hostetler and Janssen saw an opportunity to lure more runners to local trails. The number of runners hitting the trails increased nearly 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the 2012 State of the Sport by Running USA, a non-profit organization focused on advocating the sport of running.
With three races down and three to go, Hostetler said the series so far has been a success. The series includes four new races to the Northwest running scene. The races kicked off in April with the first, Smith Rock Ascent, taking runners straight up and above the cliffs to the top of Gray Butte and then back down for a total of 15 miles. Fifty runners endured 3,000 feet of vertical elevation gain. The second race, the popular Mt. Hood 50-miler, which was already well established, sold out in about four and a half hours and took place July 13.
And the most recent race, the Dog Mountain 10K, brought about 30 runners on July 27 for yet another 3,000 feet of vertical elevation gain on single track leading to breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge.
If that has you bummed out, staring at your muddy trail shoes and wishing you’d participated, fret not. There are three more endurance testing races with awestruck views left. And they just get longer… and steeper.
Here are the details with links:
Volcanic 50: “This rugged, remote and challenging 50K+ course is run entirely on single-track trails, circumnavigating Mt St Helens. All but 4.5 miles are run on the Loowit Trail. Racers will travel over lava and pumice fields, cross rivers, run through the blast zone as well as through dense forest. In all, the course involves ~6700 ft of elevation gain and loss.” This race is full but you can get on the wait list here.
Mountain Lakes 100: “One of the country’s newest 100-milers is also one of the most beautiful. Starting near Olallie Lake, and running along more than 25 lakes, this race features the best trail running Oregon has to offer – technical and rocky sections, views of mountain peaks in every direction, and 60 miles of luscious sections of the Pacific Crest Trail.”
Elk-Kings Mountain Traverse: “A steep and technical course run on single-track trails in the Tillamook State Forest. In this short 15-mile race, runners will summit two mountains – Elk and Kings Mountains – and involve ~5800 ft of gain.”
Each race offers family friendly after parties with food, prizes and camaraderie. Series winners will be determined by the sum of their points earned from their best four of the six races.
But it’s not all about the fastest. And “there’s not a lot of hoopla,” Hostetler said. It’s about getting out in nature and having a good time. That’s why the co-race directors added some shorter distances to open the field to more trail running enthusiasts.
“We wanted to offer shorter races to attract people onto the trails, enjoying the scenery, challenging themselves both physically and mentally,” Hostetler said.