Race Recap: Frozen Trail 50k 2022
Land Acknowledgment: We acknowledge that the Arboretum is on occupied lands and express our respect for the Kalapuya. We humbly honor their past, present, and future and are committed to finding meaningful ways to recognize their enduring legacy in the region. [www.mountpisgaharboretum.org]
Race Day Sunrise [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
Level 32 Racing’s Frozen Trail Run Fest
is a regional destination running event held at Howard Buford Park, Mt. Pisgah, in Eugene, Oregon. Many of the courses in this event also take runners through the Arboretum, positioned between the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and Mt. Pisgah. The event features 5k, 10k, 15k, 25k and 50k. Each distance allows runners to reach the summit of Mt. Pisgah. For the ultra-minded runner, the 50k variety is challenging, with upwards of 6000 feet of vertical gain and the type of course that requires strategy. The “run fest” may turn into a “sufferfest” at some point, but the rolling trails, creek crossings, Willamette River, surrounding natural environment, and summit views are easy on the eyes and a great way to maintain a relaxed state of mind throughout the race. Keep an eye out for the resident coyotes and various birds. The lizards and snakes are usually out of sight this time of year, although occasionally, you might see large toads and other amphibious friends.
Toad [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
Each loop takes you through forested sections, exposed trails, and service roads with these features in common: rolling trails and steep climbs. The beauty is its simplicity. There are four loops: *Base Loop 1 *Summit Loop *Base Loop 2 *Summit Loop
Frozen Trails Run Fest Map [photo credit: Level 32 Racing.com]
All loops begin at the horse corral and staging area. Base Loop 1 (Trails 38, 3, 7 & 17) heads out the gates and takes runners across the mountain’s west side to the West/Main Lot (Aid 1) and intersection with Trail 1. Runners continue on (Trails 5 & 3) through the arboretum to the East Gate/Trailhead (Aid 2). Upon reaching the East Gate, runners head back around the mountain (Trail 2 & 4) through an area known as the “Trail of Small Oaks” (Trail 4) and another, more densely forested section of Doug Fir, Madrone, Rhododendron, Ferns, Blackberry and other known PNW varieties (Trails 2 & 4).
Trail of Small Oaks [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
Some years the ground here is frozen; other years, there are copious amounts of mud throughout this forested stretch. Upon reaching the intersection with Trail 1 (Aid 3), runners turn right and bomb down Buttkick Hill as they proceed back (Trails 4, 3 & 38) toward the festive start/finish area and Transition.
Summit Loop retraces a portion of Base Loop 1 (Trails 38, 7, 17 & 5) but diverges after the green gate before the first creek-crossing (Trail 56). At this juncture, Summit Loop continues straight ahead on connector Trail 56, leading to the first climb of the day, Trail 6, which takes runners all the way to the summit. This climb makes runners dig deep! Settle in, look around, and grind away, but no hurry!
Creek-crossing on Trail 6 [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
Runners are well-advised to be patient and keep some fuel in the tank. You’ll be back here later on for the final climb of the day. No matter what kind of day you’re having, these views of the Willamette Valley, Coastal Range, and the Oregon Cascades will soothe your soul while you breathe and your legs burn. You will be here for a minute! Trail 6 meets Trail 1 at the summit. Look up and around for a second while you’re here to take in the 360-degree views of peaks as far away as Diamond Peak, The Three Sisters, Bachelor, Washington, Jefferson, Thielsen, and others.
Diamond Peak: Trail 6 to Summit [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
As you wind your way around the mountain (Trail 1&4), you get great views of Spencer Butte, Mary’s Peak, and the rest of the Coastal Range open up. It is not uncommon to see Hawks, Woodpeckers, Ravens, Vultures, and many other birds and raptors circling up here. Upon returning to Transition, runners head back out for Base Loop 2. Base Loop 2 retraces the first half of Base Loop 1 (Trails 38, 7, 17, 5 & 3) through the arboretum and out to the East Gate, then back to Trail 3 for Base Loop 2. Trail 3 takes runners up the east ascent and over the shoulder, just shy of the summit.
East Ascent to Trail 1 [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]
Trail 3 has a little bit of everything to offer runners, from various grades of climbs and trail surfaces, shaded and exposed rolling sections with a steep finish before heading back down the mountain (Trails 1, 4, 3 & 38) to Transition. The final loop repeats Summit Loop (Trails 38, 7, 17, 5, 56 & 6). At this point in the race, runners are typically shuffling while devouring extremely appetizing combinations of food such as snickers bars, homemade concoctions, GU, or other gels (I like to test my focus at this stage of a race by reading the inspirational quotes on the bottoms of the GU packets without tripping on a rock, such as “inspired by Hardrock 100,” or “eat climbs for breakfast,” or “no try, only GU.” Other delights include grapes, bananas, oranges, bagels, pickles, chips, gummy bears, H2O, Gatorade/Coca-Cola/Skratch/Tailwind/Hammer, OR all of the above. This is a highly refined cuisine that most humans might not consider putting into their bodies in a single feeding. The sole purpose at this point is to stay alive! Level 32 brings the snacks. Race day 2022 offered up temps in the high 40s and lower 50s as well as full sun. Runners feasted on the day; it felt like you could do no wrong. Although it was not frozen, runners found their flow zen. It was magic. This is a race you want to get onto your calendar; it is a perfect way to close out the year. Level 32 Racing runs a tight ship; aid stations are well-stocked, and all personnel is considerate, encouraging, and helpful. Kudos to James Houghton, the entire Level 32 team, volunteers, and Eclectic Edge for providing timing services! See you out on the trails!
Gratitude. Namaste. Peace
Mt. Pisgah and Oregon Cascades [photo credit: A. Schwarzkopf]