After running in the Silver Falls area last April, I knew I wanted to run the Silver Falls half marathon at some point. The area is absolutely beautiful and the trail is challenging.
On August 1st I was up early and happened to see that registration for the half marathon was opening in a few minutes. I knew it sold out quickly in years past and went ahead and registered both my wife and myself as soon as registration opened. Lucky I did, the half sold out of their 600 spots in 10 minutes!
Friday afternoon we drove over to Silverton where we had a room booked at the Silverton Inns and Suites. We had a little time to kill in Silverton, so we walked a bit downtown. Was a neat town with a clean downtown area.
Saturday morning we awoke around 6:30 to torrential rains! Fun times. We knew rain was going to be forecasted, so had brought the appropriate clothing. After getting dressed, we got some breakfast in the hotel lobby then hit the road for the 30 minute drive to Silver Falls State Park.
We arrived at 8:30, just in time to see the full marathoners take off. Hats off to the guy running in nothing but a pair of speedos! It was a chilly morning around 50 degrees. After getting our bibs we hung out at the start line waiting for our 9AM start.
Lisa had been sick the week prior with a nasty cold and was nowhere near 100%. Between her sickness, the weather and the difficult trail, I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast run. My goal was to run the race with her, enjoy the views and just enjoy the day, I had no worry about any particular time.
After a few announcements from the RD, we were off. The initial mile was on a paved road. This allowed the crowds to thin a bit, but was still pretty congested when we hit the trails that take you around the campground. The first 3 miles take you away from the falls area and around the main campground. This loops around back to the start where you pickup the Silver Falls Ridge trail.
A few miles on the rolling hills of the ridge trail drop you off at the North Falls trail and the second aid station at mile 6.5. This is where you drop into the falls trail and loop your way back to the South Falls.
This is the 4 mile section of the race that follows the river and passes the majority of the falls. Unfortunately you run with the first back of waterfalls to your back, I guess there is no way around that. We took our time during this section and stopped to take some photos.
At the end of the canyon, you climb out at South Falls. It’s a 2-300 foot climb with the final aid station at the end. This is where Lisa started to struggle, just a general lack of energy from being sick. We did a lot of alternating running and walking.
At mile 11 I saw two runners make a wrong turn. The course was relatively well marked with baking powder, but some markers were starting to fade with all the rain. I attempted to call the runners back but they had their headphones in and music too loud to hear me. I initially said screw it and continued on; about 100 yards down the trail I thought more about it and figured that it would be a shitty thing to NOT track them down, I still had plenty of energy in my legs. I told Lisa to go ahead and sprinted down to track the two runners down. About a 1/4 mile down a hill I caught up to them and told them. They were both very thankful and made their way back up the hill.
I caught up with Lisa and we continued along various paths and paved bike trails. The last half mile brings you nearly to the finish line, then in a wicked sense of humor takes you on a hard right up a hill called “nutbreaker hill”. This was a 200 foot climb up a muddy nasty hill. All the rain really made this a slippery mess.
On the downside of the hill it’s a short sprint to the finish line and a warm bowl of chili!
We crossed the finish line at the 2:46 mark and had accomplished the goal of just trying to enjoy the day without worrying about a particular time. I look forward to running it again with Lisa; perhaps we will go back this summer and camp again. I think doing an out and back along the river trail is the best way to experience Silver Falls. This allows you to run towards both sets of falls.
The race itself was well organized and the 3 aid stations (and the impromptu beer station at mile 8) were plenty for the temperature and distance.