By Mark Moran, RD
All runners should have a birthday run. I chose the Middle Fork Willamette Trail near Oakridge, Oregon. I selected the trail for its long length and the cool destination: the headwaters of the Willamette River, Lake Timpanogas. I started out running my years in miles, then kilometers, then as far as I had time for. The trail has everything I love: technical footing, hills and lots of awesome scenery. I like running alone, but was disappointed no other runners were out enjoying the trail. So I started the Willamette Headwaters Endurance Events (WHEE Run) to share one of my favorite trails and also as a fundraiser for local charities, including the Eugene Mission.
The WHEE Run has three distances: 11, 22 and 33 miles. I want to get new runners out on the trails, thus multiple distances and extensive course markings. I was gratified to see all the new trail racers out there this year, including the 33-mile female champion! I also want the new runners to experience all the “frills” us ultrarunners take for granted. My co-director (and wife) and I have assembled a great aid station and finish line crew to pamper runners with great food and all the aid station necessities, including the best tasting spring water in the world at the Chuckle Springs aid station. Another fun aspect for the runners and myself is that I make the ceramic finisher’s medals and champion’s pig mugs.
Over the first couple years I have been dialing in the various aspects of a successful race. The feedback from racers indicates the WHEE Run is on the right track:
“WHEE is an awesome course that covers gorgeous terrain! It was the most organized and well marked ultra that I’ve run! I will definitely be back next year!” —Bryce Brown, 33-mile champion
“Beauty, challenge, organization and variety were outstanding. Best 50k course I know for these reasons + wilderness feel. I appreciate your organizing and excellent hospitality and friendliness. Likewise volunteers. Course marking was exceptional. Start/finish area was beautiful, perfect.” —John Hartman, Super Masters 33-mile finisher
“Great fun event with awesome volunteers and a great race director! 22-miler next year for sure, lets get a big turnout!” —Kyle Carson, 11-mile male champion