Held at Cape Lookout state park near Tillamook, Oregon; the Race to the Cape was the inaugural race for Bivouac Racing. Race director Rod Schoene offered a ½ marathon and ¼ marathon distance. The ½ marathon consisted of three out and backs running the North Trail, Cape Trail and South Trail with an overall elevation gain of approximately 3000 ft. The ¼ marathon consisted of two out and backs running the North Trail and Cape Trail with an elevation gain of approximately 1750 ft. To keep it honest, Bivouac racing had placed a deck of cards at every turn around which were then used to raffle off some sweet prizes at the finish line.
The race started at 9:10 am. I had camped the night before at the state park campground and walked to the starting line (about a ¼ mile). I knew that going into this race that there would be a lot of climbing and a lot of tree roots to contend with. Both ½ marathon and ¼ marathon started at the same time, about 40 people in total. 9:10 rolls around and off we go. The race started with a lap around the parking lot then on to the North Trail. The North Trail consisted of moderate climbing for the most part with a pretty steep climb up a set of steel cage enclosed rocks, then back to climbing before a bit of downhill until I came across a suspension bridge. After the bridge, it was a bit of a climb out of the trail and to the aid station at the confluence of the three trails in the Cape Lookout trail parking lot.
Now onto part two, the Cape Trail. This was by far the fastest part of the course. A large part of this section consisted of fast pace rollers with several boardwalks and of course, exposed tree roots (definitely the theme of this race). Not for the acrophobic, the trail exposes the north side of the cape with what I thought must have been at least 300 + foot drop. The end of the trail took me out of the canopy cover and to one of the most epic views of the course overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the cape to the south. At this point, I grabbed a playing card from the bag, took in the views and headed back from whence I came.
The South Trail consisted of a steep in and out with the beach as a turnaround. I’ll admit that this section was a test of agility and footwork. About halfway through the downhill section, this trail became difficult to navigate multiple root sections with steep switchbacks for about .80 of a mile. The end of the trail took me to the beach where I grabbed another playing card. No time to take in the sights on this one. The climb back up to the trailhead was a tough one. It was hard to maintain a climbing rhythm with all of the exposed tree roots. The climb was a slog at best. This uphill section definitely took the longest and I knew I was in for a quad burner in order to get back to the finish line.
I finally made it back to the parking lot/aid station where I fueled up on some electrolytes before descending down the North trail. I was able to make up quite a bit of time on this part as I remembered some of the most technical sections. For the most part, it all went pretty quick until I hit the steel cage enclosed rocks. At this point, my legs were pretty beat up and the walk/crawl down this section was extremely unstable at best. After getting down and back on the trail was a smooth trek back down a bit of single track then onto a gravel road and back to the finish line where I was greeted by volunteers, well-deserved beer and some of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.
All in all, this was a pretty amazing race although, not for the weary. The course was well marked, well supported and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. I definitely look forward to doing this one again. Total time: 2:54:02, total elevation gain: 2900 ft as per my GPS watch.