Event Report: Detroit Lake Mud Run
Event Report: Detroit Lake Mud Run
Event Name: Detroit Lake Mud Run
Event Location: Detroit, Oregon
Event Type: 10K Trail Run
Event Date: October 11th, 2014
The Detroit Lake Mud Run just finished its third year. I have been thrilled to participate the past two years. So thrilled that I felt it would be a shame for me to not share the experience, and encourage everyone to put it on y’alls calendars for 2015.
Detroit Lake is a man-made lake that was created by the Army Corp of Engineers in the early 1950s. They built a dam, and BOOM, instant lake! If you’ve driven to Central Oregon from Salem (or vice versa), you’ve driven along the shore for a few miles and probably noticed the series of dams on the west side holding everything in. Considering the force of the water, and that the lake is 400’ deep, I’m amazed that engineers could create something so stout that it would hold together for over 60 years now, kudos to the brainiacs involved.
The most special feature (to me) is a direct by-product of the artificial lake. Before the dams went in, the area was forest, so what happened to the forest? Well, it was flooded. Before it was flooded, it appears that the timber was largely harvested, so the lake bottom is full of massive douglas-fir tree stumps, mostly cut at the 2-5’ height. AND, every year, about 20-30’ is drained off of the lake, exposing parts of the lake bottom with 1000s of stumps showing as a reminder that the area used to be forest.
Enter the Mud Run. Unfortunately, I don’t know the details behind the inception of the mud run, but as far as I’m concerned, it was sheer brilliance to have the course run RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE of this eerie graveyard of douglas-fir tombstones. It really is surreal, beautiful, eerie, and most of all, FUN!
The course starts us out in downtown Detroit, right out front of The Cedars restaurant and lounge (where I had a great BLT and brew the night before). We run south along the main drag for about 3/4 of a mile until we reach the lakeshore. At this point we hang a right and run along a pretty gravel trail through a hallway of aspenish trees along the spit, then hang another right and are immediately dumped into the graveyard. The ground at this point is super spongy with a mix of tiny wildflower ground cover and some sort of moss. This is probably my favorite part of the trail, you’re in the middle of the thickest concentration of stumps, and the running is nice and easy on fresh legs and soft ground.
A little transition uphill brings us back to the edge of town, however this time on the west side through some trails and then we are dumped 20’ downhill to the shoreline at the Detroit Lake marina. This is the where the “mud run” portion of the run starts. We’re in mud for the next mile or so, traversing along the shoreline, back up to the stumps and a couple of fun river crossings, where about 50% of everyone ends up on their butts. Of course this is where one of the official cameramen is stationed, ready to get people at their worst (or best, depending on how you look at it).
Trudging through the mud
We continue, kicking a pound of mud off the bottom of each shoe as we head onto Piety Island for some single track trail running for what was probably a third of a mile. Just at the end of the island is the aid station, and the halfway mark. A quick gulp of water, and a totally unwarranted update from one of the volunteers that some dude just finished the race (ha!) and we’re off again. The rest of the race is mostly dry and rocky along the shoreline until we hit the last half-mile, back on the main drag, running out of energy but not enthusiasm!
Thanks to RunWildAdventures for putting on a great run! I encourage everyone to consider participating in the 2015 Detroit Lake Mud Run. I’ll be there!