Oregon: Crater Lake Rim Run

On August 13th Kendall and I checked Oregon off our list by running the Crater Lake Rim Runs. The Rim Runs offered three distances to choose from: 6.7 miles, 13 miles, or a marathon. We went with the shortest offering. I wasn’t sure how well I would handle running at a higher elevation (the course is 5,980 to 7,850 feet above sea level). And then there was this little nugget on the website: “All three courses have long grades with altitude loss and gains nearing 1,000 feet at a time over distances nearing five miles.” The 6.7 mile course, fortunately, was mostly downhill grades with only one climb lasting just under a mile (the 13.0 course finished with the last 3.5 miles straight up hill!).

Our goals for this race were to run together and to enjoy the amazing vistas of Crater Lake. Kendall also made it his goal to run the entire distance. While my training has been hitting 40+ mile weeks fairly consistently this summer, his training has been a bit free form.

The morning of the race was absolutely perfect for running. Part of me wished I could have really been racing, because mid-fifties and no humidity was absolutely heavenly after the unrelenting heat and humidity of this summer. The race started at 7:30, but since there was no parking at the start line, we were up extra early to catch a bus from Crater Lake Lodge to the start. There was no packet pick up; bibs were mailed to us about a month before the race.

The course is paved but I decided to wear by trail running shoes. Kind of a strange choice, but I knew I’d be doing a lot of hiking on vacation. Since I was only packing a carry on bag, I didn’t have room for two pairs of running shoes so the racing flats had to stay home. When we got to the start line I was so relieved to have packed trail shoes. There was ongoing construction and the first two miles of the race ended up being gravel. My Saucony flats have cut outs in the sole to reduce weight that ALWAYS get rocks stuck in them if I stray from the pavement. Trail shoes for the win!

Once we started running I was so glad I had made the choice to treat this as an easy run. The views were absolutely breathtaking. If I would have been focused on my pace I would not have been able to really take in the scenery. Just look at these photos!

Five miles into the race I realized my Garmin was showing us about half a mile off from the mile markers. It was displaying over 5.5 miles when we passed the 5 mile mark.  I wasn’t familiar enough with the course to know if my Garmin was wrong or if the markers were wrong. We ended up crossing the finish line at 6.6 miles so it must have been the mile markers. The finish has a short uphill climb during which I put on the speed and pulled ahead of Kendall. I finished in 1:05:03, Kendall was right behind me at 1:05:52.

Age group awards were five deep, so I thought with the small field I might have a shot at an age group award. I was wrong. Kendall, on the other hand, grabbed fifth in his age group! It hurts me a little to have not raced it, because I think I had a good shot a first overall (top female finished in 57:00, 8:30 pace). Kendall getting an age group award added some salt to that wound, but really I just need to stop being so damn competitive. Not every race needs to be about the finish time.

Winner!

After picking up Kendall’s ribbon and our finisher shirts we boarded a bus back to the lodge. Sort of. Instead of going back the way we came, we had to drive the rest of the way around the lake due to road closures. Then instead of going to the lodge, we first went to the campground to drop off runners who had parked there. This normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but we had non-refundable tickets for a boat tour at 11:30 and were quickly running out of time. We made it back to our car shortly after 10, but we still had a 25 minute drive to get to the tour AND a 30 minute hike to get to the actual dock. We made the tour but I’ll save that for the vacation recap.

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