Running against Oregon’s elite | SierraSun.com

Running against Oregon’s elite

Peter Fain
Running on Dirt

This past weekend I went to Ashland, Ore., to compete in a different uphill race, the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb Run. Itand#8217;s a different kind of tough uphill: 13.2 miles, 5,600 feet of climbing, and yes, on dirt.

It wasnand#8217;t as steep as the Squaw Mountain Run, but it had its moments. But what made this race special for me was the caliber of runners who showed up. Now, donand#8217;t get me wrong, there are great runners here in our area, but Iand#8217;ve had great success locally, so itand#8217;s good to get humbled.

Many athletes who have resumes that go on and on were there and#8212; Western States winners, Way Too Cool winners, major race course record-holders, you name it, the list goes on. So, for me to toe the line with this kind of talent was a treat.

Well, from the moment the gun went off Max King (the new course record-holder) and Erik Skaggs were gone before the first mile. The rest of us held together until we passed Lithia Park. The climb was quite steep initially, and the pace was feverish.

I labored for a bit to stay in the top 10. By mile 5 I slid into 11th place. An old acquaintance passed me, Dave Dunham of Massachusetts. I wasted no time letting him know that he had to take off his shirt to be in the top 10. Did I mention practically none of the Oregon elite runners wear a shirt? I think running as close to naked as possible is the theme in Oregon. Believe it or not, that goes for some of the women too. Moeben running bikinis.

Dave and the shirtless guy next to him laughed as they pulled ahead.

I held my own and kept that next group within site. I slowly got closer until we reached the ski resort lodge. There the trail turns from nice, clean fire roads to a rocky, steep, technical single-track for the last 3/4 of a mile. Most groaned. Me, I let out a sigh of relief. Heck, thatand#8217;s what we run here. I maintained a strong pace and cruised by four guys. The last 200 meters were straight up a black diamond ski run (well, maybe a blue at Squaw).

All my efforts left me about 20 seconds behind fifth place. Finishing sixth in such company felt really good. I thank my Truckee trails for that success. No one is as lucky as we are with our backyard of trails.

and#8212; Peter Fain is a local trail runner who competes regularly in regional trail races and snowshoe runs in the winter. He may be contacted at runondirt@gmail.com.