After ten years, we’ve finally decided to upgrade the Waldo 100k website. We were always proud of the content of the old site, but it definitely looked dated … nine years ago!
I got to work with some awesome people on this project and Curt (my Co-RD), the race, and the runners are fortunate to have these talented folks on board, donating their time and energy for us. The creative, innovative and hard-working Ian Doremus came up with the design and has been instrumental throughout this project, helping with content, css, hosting, and making sure the site doesn’t look like a nursing student made it. He’s also our webmaster for the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol and the Oregon Region of NSP websites. He hasn’t done an ultra – yet… The talented, professional web designer Lynn Stott converted Ian’s design to a wordpress theme – yes, this woman used to be a famous runner and, no, her maiden name is not Jennings. She’s lived all over the place but now holes up in Idaho with a hairy guy who hoped that sleeping with her would turn him into a faster runner. Lynn has helped us from the very beginning of the race, developing the runner database that we still use today. Thanks to my wife who I’m sure is ready for this project to be over so we can jump into the next one, and to each of you who reviewed it and listened to me go on and on about plugins, menus, tables, htaccess, apache, mysql, and jetpacks. And finally, the new Assistant RD, Meghan Arbogast – yeah, The Queen – got to sink her teeth into a pretty big project and find out what it’s like working with me. She was there every step of the way, even when she said it felt like she was working on a homework assignment. She still is here so she must be liking it. We’re very happy she has joined us.
There is enough content in there to keep you occupied for at least a week. There are many great race reports that runners wrote even before everybody had their own blog. Below is an excerpt from the history page that Meghan wrote. It’s an open and honest account of challenges we’ve faced and our successes. It’s a good read.
Oh, and if you want to run the race this year, you better hurry as we only have 14 spots left as I write this.
In the beginning, there was an Oregon Trail Series of ultramarathons sadly lacking in any distance above 50 miles. Being envious of our neighbors to the south and some famous 100 mile race, the Northwest ultrarunning community began making noise about Oregon putting on a 100 mile or 100km race. Route ideas included the Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail (E2PCT), which turned out to be less than inspiring, something in McDonald Forest in Corvallis (100 anything in the Mac? Yikes!), or the Umpqua River Trail. Craig Thornley, a Willamette Pass Ski Patrol volunteer, made the suggestion of starting and finishing at Willamette Pass as it had the necessary facilities and was fairly centrally located, right on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Meanwhile, Curt Ringstad, a longtime Bend ultrarunner with a knack for creating great training routes, was inspired after a 22 – mile run around Waldo Lake, followed by a dip in those pristine waters, to commit to Craig to be a co – RD.
Then the real work began: finding a route. There were beautiful trails, lakes, and peaks surrounding the area, but connecting the best and making it accessible for aid proved to be challenging. After many ideas, all of which included the Waldo Lake Trail, turned out to be unrealistic or unfeasible in light of impending Forest Service restrictions in the Waldo Lake basin, Curt was encouraged to look at the maps for less popular trails. And, he came up with a new course they thought might work. However, when they went out to locate all the trails that were depicted on the map, they found that several had disappeared in the field due to neglect. With a lot of hard work, trails were re-discovered and cleared.
The resulting course is mostly single-track trail with more than 11,000′ of elevation gain and equal amount of loss. There are 3 major climbs of more than 2000′ each and 2 minor climbs of more than 1000′ each. The highest point is 7818′ at the top of Maiden Peak and the lowest point is at Gold Lake, about 4900′. According to Curt, “The recon missions were epic suffering. Trying to find the Lost Ribbon and Leap of Faith trails in the heart of mosquito season was incredibly difficult, but one would never know it now. But my real “aha” moment was when I excitedly called Craig from the summit of Fuji after my first ascent. It was so beautiful at that moment that I knew we really had something worth doing, and I was super motivated to scout out every inch of the course. Now when I am out there, it is always striking to me how cool it is that we managed to tie these super loops together. It’s something for the greater good. A legacy. But without Craig’s organizational skills the course would have only existed in my mind.”
Meanwhile, Craig was putting said organizational skills to work, communicating and getting permits from the Middle Fork Ranger District, striking up an agreement with the Willamette Pass Ski Lodge owner for use of facilities, and getting sponsorship from SportHill in Eugene and The North Face Outlet in Bend. With the help of his medical advisor, Laurie Monico, they enlisted the services of Matt Dillon and his group of volunteer Ham Radio operators to provide communications during the race. The proceeds from the race after expenses were dedicated to the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol, an organization that Craig has been with for a number of years. The patrol would be the main source for volunteers and medical and SAR infrastructure.
The name of the race was decided on when it was clear that runners could only ever “see” Waldo Lake from the high peaks, and never arrive there. Craig’s wife, Laurie Thornley, warned him that someone might come after him regarding the use of the children’s storybook name, but he decided to chance it. Wanting to add some flavor to the normal prize structure, Craig and Curt added a premium for the racers, The ‘Find Waldo’ award would go to the first runner to reach the top of Fuji Mountain (mile 16), but to win the prize the runner had to complete the race.
And thus, Where’s Waldo 100k was born. It was included in the Oregon Trail Series and on September 28, 2002, with the fair warning “It is not a beginner-level ultra and participation in the race should not be taken lightly” the first race was on the calendar. A two-person relay was included to get the numbers up.
The inaugural event was not without incident. A bold 37 solo runners showed up ready to test the course. At 3:30 am, the early starters were off. Craig attempted to radio the course marshals stationed along the way to the first aid station, but didn’t get a response. When two locals, Ken Sinclair and Bill Montgomery, both 5 am relay runners, got to the Gold Lake aid station (#1), they informed race personnel that four runners had been sent off course! Familiar with the course, Bill and Ken educated the misinforming marshal so no one else would be led astray, but the damage to the first four was significant, and resulted in DNFs.
Up near the Fuji Mountain aid station (#2) Craig encountered some (gasp!) hunters?!? Turns out it was opening day of deer hunting season. Fortunately, no one was shot at. It was also fortunate that Craig, having listened to his wife this time, decided not to give out an award to the first runner to finish the course wearing antlers.
For the rest of the history click here to go to the new website.