Rain cleared the air for Run's return
September 16, 2021 | View PDF
MCKENZIE BRIDGE: Organizers of the annual McKenzie River Trail Run faced triple threats this year that could have lead to cancellation of the event. Hurdles to overcome included increased safety requirements related to a rise in COVID infections, closure of half the planned route due to a wildfire near Deer Creek and poor air quality because of intense smoke infusions from other fires.
Luckily, on the Friday before last Saturday's race, there was good news. "Despite all odds MRTR 2021 is a go!" Race director Tim Hooton was glad to report. "Blessed rain overnight has cleared the smoke and damped the trail dust perfectly. Tomorrow's forecast is shaping up to be excellent. For those of you who bucked the odds you will experience the most technical foot work in MRTR's 34 years so have fun but be safe."
He was referring to changes to the traditional course when the fire closures meant the whole middle section had to be eliminated. In order to cover the 41 miles needed for a 50k event, organizers had to shift to a zone extending East from Blue Pool, another 11/2 miles on the Santiam Wagon Road, then a double round of circling Clear Lake and back down to Blue Pool. That meant runners would be passing through lava zones four times.
Following the race, though, runners weren't complaining online.
"Great race directors and awesome volunteers at the aid stations," according to John Lotts. "Always my favorite trail race of the year but this year just reaffirmed that."
Irene Beatriz Ramos provided a positive take as well. "I had an amazing time running this race for the first time," she noted. "I am also hoping to come back next year."
"Myself and my coworkers were absolutely thrilled," Hooton said. "We're cautiously optimistic we may be able to be back on the original course next year."