The 12th annual Hagg Lake Trail Run was held last weekend with a 50k(31 miles) on Saturday, which is part of the Oregon Trail Ultramarathon Series, and a 25k(15.5 miles) on Sunday.  There were more than 300 runners in the 25k this year and even though the weather was alright, the trail was still incredibly sloppy.

The race started out with a quick out-and-back section on road before hopping on to the 14 mile trail around the lake.  My plan was to use this race as a training run, but nevertheless I went out at a quick pace so I wouldn’t get stuck behind slower runners on the single track trail.  The conditions didn’t seem so bad at first, until I came to a steep downhill section that looked like a Slip ‘n Slide made of mud.  Everyone had different strategies for getting down.  Some more successful than others.  Mine was to use my shoes like a pair of skis and mudplow to the bottom.

What started out as fun, quickly progressed to funny, and then to simply ridiculous.  At one of the aid stations I heard about a guy who had his shoe sucked off by the ankle deep mud.  It was difficult to sustain any type of pace or rhythm when it feels like you’re tromping through a trough of pig slop.  However, my Saucony Peregrine trail running shoes and Dirty Girl gaiters(with the rainbow Wild Cat print…MEOW!) managed to hold up pretty well.

By the halfway point, I had completely given up on trying to keep my feet dry and just ran straight through one puddle after another.  I kept expecting to fall apart in the last few miles, but was able to keep it together and finish in 23rd place overall.  This was the most solid race I’ve run  since October.  Well, solid may not be the right word with all that mud, but anyway I was real happy with the way things worked out.

Afterwards there were hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and chicken noodle soup–good ole American comfort food.  Runners who completed both the 50k and the 25k were rewarded with a growler of Double Runner Ale.

On Saturday, Ryan Bak from Bend won the 50k(fresh off his 23rd place finish at last month’s Olympic Marathon Trials).  Cassie Scallon from Wisconsin kicked some serious ass in winning both the women’s 50k and 25k.  Click here to check out a video made by a guy who ran with a camera strapped to his head.  I like his use of the classic Cake tune, “The Distance.”

So, would I recommend the Hagg Lake Trail Run?

Without a doubt…but you definitely need to have the right attitude.  Me, I felt like a little kid again, stomping through puddles, playing in the mud, and running around without a care in the world.  That is, until you get home and your Mom freaks out because you tracked mud all through the house.  Sorry Yoshimi, next year I’ll make sure to hose off afterwards.