By Mike Murawski

On the morning of July 1st, I stood at the starting line of the Bristow 24/12 Race with 100 other runners. While we were all coming to this race from different places in our lives, we stood at that starting line filled with hope, courage, and love to face a challenge that was personal to each of us. And not just a physical endurance challenge, but also the mental, emotional, and even spiritual challenges we brought with us to this magical place.

On its surface, the Bristow 24/12 is an endurance running event where participants sign up to repeatedly run a 1.05-mile loop for either 6 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours. The event is held on the trails of Elijah Bristow State Park, just outside of Eugene, Oregon. The event started back in 2014 with around 30 runners, and it has grown in popularity ever since. The 1-mile loop course is run on flat woodland trails next to the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, with a few spots where you can see the river (and even splash some cold water on your face in the afternoon heat). Each course lap begins and ends at one massive Aid Station, where runners stop to fill water bottles, grab a gel, or get more substantive food (which ranges from burgers and quesadillas to pizza and ramen noodles). The trick is to not get lured into the Aid Station and all its goodies on each lap.

The format sounds ridiculous – why would anyone want to run the same 1-mile loop continuously? I always thought that myself, but I was enticed to register for this year’s Bristow 24/12 after hearing endurance runner Charley Boynton describe the event on an episode of OPB’s Think Out Loud. He talked about the lack of cutoffs (besides the end time), which makes the race feel like everyone is in this together. Charley explained,

“You’re able to compete with everybody else on that same loop, get to know everyone, talk to everyone along the way, and just develop friendships. It’s amazing because you get some highs, and you get some real lows, and you help everyone with those lows and highs.”


Runner Michael Mooney pushing hard through the miles.


So whether you are on your 10th or 95th loop, you’re still right there with everyone else on that same trail, cheering each other on and sharing the pain, the struggle, and the joy. For me, this made the Bristow 24/12 such a special race experience.

I’ve run typical trail races where everyone starts together, but then runners spread out on a long course based on pace. By the time I cross the finish line, the podium ceremony is done, and the runners who finished first have often packed up and left, and there are still runners finishing for hours behind me. Some of the feeling of community that existed at the starting line has dissipated as we’re sorted by pace on the long miles out on the trails.Ledlenser MH10 | Shop Ledlenser MH10 Headlamp | Ledlenser USA $89.95


Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved many of these types of races and certainly connected with other runners out on these beautiful mountain trails. But Bristow just felt so different, and I loved it! There was a sense of community that I’d never experienced with other races. I ran that 1-mile loop with people of all ages, body types, and runners of all paces. The event was also highly inclusive for LGBTQ+ runners, including separate podium awards for those who identified as non-binary. Go Beyond did a great job of making this event more inclusive and welcoming to all runners, which brought the community magic to the race. We all ran and walked with each other, shared stories, sang silly songs in the middle of the night, and kept pouring out words of encouragement, especially during everyone’s last lap.


Non-binary Podium ceremony for the 24-hour group celebrating Caoilinn Haggerty, Very Raft, and Nick Pham.


Bristow was also special to me since I could invite my family and friends (most non-runners) to support, crew for me, and help pace me. My wife Bryna was the most amazing Crew Chief ever, and we set up a crew tent along the course next to so many others. My friends had heard about my ultramarathon races, but most had never experienced one before – so this event gave them a front-row seat. And I could have friends (and their kids) pace with me for a lap or two, which was a fun break in the monotony of running that loop.

By the end of the race, it really didn’t feel like it mattered how far anyone had run – everyone had their own finish line, which for some, had very little to do with distance. While some runners were out there to go for their first 50K, 100K, or 100 miles (or their 200th ultramarathon finish like Steve Walters! Wow, Steve!), others were there to discover new levels of personal strength, resilience, and potential. For me, it was both. I had set a goal of running 100 miles in 24 hours, yet the experience of running at Bristow taught me so much about the depths of my personal strength.

On the morning of July 2nd, as I crossed the finish line on my 96th loop, I saw the screen say that I had passed the 100-mile mark. I pumped my fist and let out a loud, celebratory “wooooooooo!” I had made it to my goal after some pretty painful moments and many hours of pushing forward during the night and early morning. I just kept telling myself, “You are strong. You can do this.” I walked my final lap with my wife, Bryna, who had done so much to support me to get to this point. I hobbled around the course one last time, which felt a bit like saying goodbye to an old friend. As other runners passed us, we exchanged final words of support and congratulations on finishing. And when the air horn blasted, noting that we’d reached the end of 24 hours, I had miraculously made it far enough to finish in 3rd place overall. 101.78 miles in 24 hours! But more than any distance can ever show, Bristow was simply a magical and memorable experience that will stay with me forever.


The moment I crossed the finish line and knew I had passed the 100-mile distance.


The Bristow 24/12 brought together all types of strong people, and everyone who ran loops together that weekend did so with a spirit full of courage and belief.

I encourage others to try this quirky, unique event and tackle your personal challenge with a community of amazing people. I know I’ll be back because … Bristow is magic!



Cover Photo 1: Start of the 2023 Bristow 24/12 Race

Cover Photo 2: Runners Very Raft, Jack Korpob and others enjoying their loops.

Race photos: @fullsendmedia_

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