Monday, January 19, 2009

Trail Factor Run Report - Hagg Lake, OR

Henry Hagg Lake 14 + mile loop

(Photo by Richard Bolt - 2008 Hagg Lake 50k, men in skirts)

Written by Shawn Bostad

This weekend was one of the first nice days that TRAIL FACTOR has had running in a long time.  The sky was completely blue and the winds were on the low side.  Temperatures were hovering around 38-40 degrees throughout the run and probably a bit cooler in some areas due to the icy nature of the trail.  

We were tackling the Henry Hagg Lake trail, which is a 14+ mile loop out near Forest Grove.  We decided to go out a run the Hagg Lake loop as a prep run to the Hagg Lake Trail Run.  This is one of the local trail races that kick off the beginning of the Oregon Ultramarathon Trail Series.  They have a 25K and a 50K race available for all to enjoy.  Most of us ran the course today and tentatively made the decision that we would most likely be entering the 25K.  Most of us have dipped our feet into ultra races many times, but this year some of us are considering focusing on shorter races.

We had six runners on the Trail Factor run.  Those who attended today included Jessi, Rick, Ruben, Shawn, Susan, and Aubree.  Susan and Aubree were both new-comers to Trail Factor and once again excellent additions to the run.  Susan has a track background and is new to trail running.  She is an RN and has an amazing personality filled with spunky energy.  Aubree is definitely a veteran runner with a background in track and cross country.  She is an accomplished marathoner and has also competed in several trail races.  She spends a good portion of her time at the North East Portland Therapeutic Associates Clinic working there as the head DPT.  She is also an amazing person and runs like an animal.    

We were running the course clockwise today.  This is opposite of what they do in the race, but we wanted to hit the trails first.  We had parked at the Elks picnic area and if you run it counter clockwise from there, you run directly over the Dam first, which feels really long.  We also wanted to experience the trail in the opposite direction to the real course on race day.
Everything started off nice and smooth.  We hit the trail and things looked pretty good.  There was some ice due to the very cold temperatures the night before, but this meant that all the mucky mud would be nicely frozen and hard packed.  Hagg Lake is notorious for being really muddy and cruddy.  In some cases you can actually bury your whole leg in a mud bog.  

We were moving along nicely and then we had a bit of a TRAIL FACTOR style ankle sprain on the team.  Unfortunately, Susan rolled her ankle over very thoroughly.  Susan is new to trail running, so this was one of her first trail running ankle sprains.  She toughed it out for a bit, but the swelling was settling in and she headed back for the car.  She got a good hour of running.  
This brings up a good point about trail running.  Although most of us run trail to get off of the road and hopefully prevent injuries; there are certainly cases when the trail can really bite you in the butt and cause some serious injuries.  Trails are unpredictable and require a tremendous amount of stabilization to run smoothly.  I spend a fair amount of time working on balance exercises off of the trails to prevent catastrophic ankle sprains and would recommend others to the same for both on road and off road running health.  

We all continued on with the run.  Jessi and Aubree running together and Shawn, Ruben and Rick staying together like a band of brothers.  

This trail bobs in and out of the woods.  It takes you through dense forest and even incorporates a fair amount of running on the road.  It’s a great combinations of fast trail running mixed with slow mud running.  This trail is also open to mountain bikes, so on occasion you will be sharing the mud with the two wheeled knobbies.  

The conditions of the trail on this particular run were fair to good.  There were many sections that were nicely packed down and free of debris, but we certainly hit some sections that really slowed us down due to downed trees.  This made for some pretty interesting running.

The ladies obviously had the trail figured out.  Even though we were ahead of them, there were two occasions when we took a couple detours that not only added time, but mileage.  We crossed paths with the ladies a couple times throughout the run.  They were always surprised to see us and so were we.  Even though this trail runs along the lake, there are many options that will either shoot you down to the lake or up onto the road.  The trails are marked pretty well in some locations, but in other locations lack markings all together.  Veteran Hagg Lake trail runners can probably navigate this trail with their eyes closed, but Rick, Ruben and myself have only run the course once before and therefore would not be classified as Veteran Hagg Lake Trail Runners.  
We kept on clicking off the miles.  We had a couple of near spills on some muddy sections of the course.  There were also several blackberry thorns in some sections.  By the end, Ruben and Ricks legs looked like they had just finished shaving their legs, but were first timers at the process. 

We did run into a couple of runners, but the trail was mostly clear.  We also ran into a few folks doing trail maintenance.  They were obviously involved in some way with the Hagg Lake Trail Run because they asked us if we would be racing.  We replied with a yes and continued on.  A big thank you should always be given to those who work hard at keeping the trails clear.  Also, if you love trail running, you should try at some point to offer a bit of your time up to trail maintenance.  It helps keep everything clear so we can run effortlessly and smoothly and enjoy the trail for years and years.

We finished up our run with the last road section of the day.  It crosses the Dam and runs you right back into Elks picnic area.  Shawn, Ruben and Rick finished 14+ miles in about 2:07 and the ladies finished shortly after in about 2:25.  

Overall it was a great TRAIL FACTOR run and only had one incident.  Even though Susan sprained her ankle, she was such a trooper and in such good spirits.  We finished up our day with a trip to Mcmenamins for some food and beer, which is nearly my favorite part of the run.
If you are ever interested in joining TRAIL FACTOR for a run, please visit our website at

Shawn Bostad

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