Last Saturday, I opened my 2016 racing season with the Smith Rock Ascent. I ran the first edition in 2013 and immediately put it as one of my favorite local race. It is held in the beautiful Smith Rock State Park (Central Oregon) mostly known for being the birthplace of American sport climbing (Sport-climbing in the US? no wonder several French climbers played a big influence!)
Over the years, they have added a “4miler” and a “50K” but the 15-miler (≈ 3000ft elevation gain) remains my favorite as it suits exactly my type of running: It’s steep, exposed, fast and includes some technical parts. It consists of a lollipop course starting and finishing at the park entrance and going at the top of Gray Butte.
The views are beautiful (one can see the cascade volcanoes from Mt Hood to Mt Bachelor), the weather is usually sunny and warm at this time of the year and the organization is great.
3 years after, I wanted to participate again, see my overall improvements since then and enjoy some good competition as this race seems to attract fast runners. Both in my training and racing, I’ve always made sure to establish benchmarks in order to measure my improvements. It’s easy to run year after year and not necessarily notice the improvements/regression. As I like to train with purpose, I believe having such benchmarks help me not only validating my training, but also assessing and adjusting it if no progression is made.
Nutrition: 500mL of water, 1 HoneyStinger “GinSting” gel