If you’ve never been to Silver Falls State Park, you really should go.  Oregon’s largest state park has miles and miles of single track trail that passes by (and even behind) ten waterfalls–several more than a 100 feet high.  Even though it’s close to both Portland and Salem, Silver Falls is not really on the way to anywhere.  Nevertheless, you should make a point to check out this magnificent park, you won’t regret it.  Last week I was one of 500 runners to take part in the Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon organized by the fine folks at Run Wild Adventures.  Run Wild has just been around for a few years, but already they’ve put together a cool series of shorter trail races that all take place in those dark winter months when there’s not much else going on.  At their races, you can expect rain, you can expect mud, but you can also expect to have a real good time.

What I didn’t expect was that there’s be so many competitive runners taking part in this second annual event.  The sloppy conditions didn’t hold anyone back and right from the gun these guys were cranking it out at a sub six minute pace.  The first mile was on road, which the gave the us a chance to spread out a bit.  By mile two, most everyone was where they needed to be and for the rest of the race there was very little passing.  We looped around to the start area and at about mile four we got on the Rim Trail which took us out to and behind 136 foot North Falls.  Even though you’re in the middle of running a race, it’s impossible NOT to stop and marvel at this massive cascade of water.

From there we hopped onto the Canyon Trail, which follows the North Fork of Silver Creek for about five miles.  This trail was just pure fun, mostly flat, but with lots of twists and turns and a few rolling hills.  A trail like this makes running on asphalt seem ridiculous.  At Lower South Falls the trail again skirted behind the falls and then climbed up a long, looooong set of stairs.  Now I was really starting to feel it and at this point my legs decided to officially lodge a protest.  I tried to ignore them as we then passed behind 177 foot South Falls, but they just wouldn’t quit their complaining.  “Come on guys,” I pleaded. “It’s only three more miles.”  No answer.  ” Wow, check out Silver Falls Lodge, built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Isn’t that cool?”  My legs were not impressed.  They told me to quit sightseeing and get this thing over with.  I shut up, put my head down and churned through the last couple of miles.  Somehow I was able to convince my legs to put forth a bit of a sprint at the finish.  They reluctantly agreed, but were not happy about it.  Considering the competitive field and the fact my training has been in maintenance mode for the last month, I was happy to finish 25th overall.  Afterwards I ran into some guys I met over the summer at different races around Oregon.  Summer now seemed a long ways away as we warmed ourselves in front of the fireplace and enjoyed a few bowls of chili.  Thank you Run Wild Adventures for organizing such a fun race.  I look forward to your Shellburg Falls Trail Run next month.