This year’s Sisters Country race in Sisters, Oregon, was everything a trail runner could hope for: crisp, windy, beautiful, and the perfect way to kick off the race season in early spring. This was my second 50K, and I was excited to tackle a course that’s considered “flatter” by 50K trail race standards. My first 50K had been covered in thick, slick snow for the first ten miles, so I was very much looking forward to drier trails this time around.


All bundled up at the Sisters Country 50k start.


In the days leading up to the race, weather reports threatened snow off and on, but fortunately, race day ended up being cold but dry – truthfully my favorite conditions. The course is mostly an out-and-back, with some points where the trail splits, so you’re not seeing the same scenery the whole time. I don’t spend a lot of time in central Oregon, so it’s always a treat to see something so different. The course offers a ton of variety, from classic sparse trees and imposing rocks to more heavily forested trails and exposed ridgelines.


The forested trails of the Sisters Country 50k


The exposed portions were a bit brutal due to the blasting wind, but the top delivered a gorgeous view followed by a long, sweeping descent on gravel roads. After a slow and steady incline for the first 15 miles, this descent felt so nice and juicy. Despite being a bit of a control freak and carrying most of my calories with me, I found the aid stations well-stocked with snacks, beverages, and friendly volunteers. A banana at the twenty-mile mark ended up being a lifesaver – and stomach-saver.


Three Sisters covered by the stormy clouds.


When I reviewed the course online and loaded the GPX files into AllTrails, it looked like it was about 29-30 miles. But make no mistake – it’s a full 31.1 miles. You wouldn’t think that would make much of a difference, but when I thought I had 8 miles left and found out I actually had 10, I had to dig deep for a minute to get over the news. However, if you’re prepared for the full 31.1 miles, this course is such a fun, beautiful experience. It’s minimally technical, offers a big variety in landscape, and May in central Oregon tends to be perfect in terms of weather.


The rocky, exposed trails were the biggest challenge of the Peterson Ridge Trails, but they offered fantastic views.


The finish line burritos were perfect, and we had a really nice time hanging out in the grass, watching the last few runners come in. I highly, highly recommend this race for anyone who needs a morale boost or who’s tackling their first 50K. I could absolutely see myself going back. Fall races are tough for me since long training runs in August just aren’t my thing, but getting the miles in during the winter came a lot easier.


Adv Skin 12 – Unisex Running Vest with flasks included | Salomon $165.00


Plus, it’s not a bad excuse to rent an Airbnb with a hot tub and a desert view. If you’re looking for a race that combines beautiful scenery, a manageable course, and a friendly atmosphere, the Sisters Country 50K is the one to beat.

All pictures are credited to James Holk and Alpine Running.

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