Most trail speed records that you see on the Fastest Known Time website are not as short and easy as the Wildwood Trail found here in Portland Oregon's Forest Park. Despite this I decided to just go for it and set the bar on a trail that I love and have run so many times (but never for speed).
A friend of mine (Jesse Cox) asked publicly about this record a couple months ago on Facebook and that planted the seed. No one really knew about a record time....Someone replied that a man did just under four hours last New Years Eve but that was about it. Jess did some more research and still found nothing so I decided to state my intentions of an "Unsupported Wildwood Speed Record"...starting at Newberry Rd. and finishing at the zoo. The trail is just over 30 miles and meanders through Forest Park and Washington Park. You can learn more about the expansive park and trail by reading HERE.
Start Time: 1:25 p.m. on Sunday 11/20/11
Length of Run: 3 hours 38 minutes 16 seconds for approximately 30.3 miles
Gear: Garmin 310 GPS Watch, 1.5 liter bladder of water on back, 3 packs of Clif Shot Blocks, a couple Gu Roctanes, Inov-8 X-Talon 212's, Drymax Trail Socks, Patagonia Houdini Jacket, Myo XP Headlamp
Weather Conditions: I may have gotten the last nice day of the year! Sunny, cool (about 45 degree average for the run)...No rain
I knew the trails were going to be a little "slower" due to the many leaves covering roots, holes, and making it slippery in some spots, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I got dropped off at Newberry Rd. by my wife, mother-in-law, and daughter and they wished me well as I disappeared into the forest. The first few miles I just tried to hold a good effort and had somewhat of a plan on where I wanted to be around the Germantown Rd. crossing. Just before Germantown I was coming down a hill at a pretty moderate pace and I came upon a wooden bridge that was hidden by leaves. I tried to brake a little and went down hard on the bridge crashing my hip and tibia. This rattled me pretty good...In fact I thought that I may have done some serious damage and that I was going to have to stop. I shook it off and was able to "run it off" and didn't lose more than 20 seconds or so.
From that point on I felt really strong and consistent through the heart of the park. There were are few times that there were trees covering the trail that caused me to slow down to crawl over or under, and after my fall I was very conservative going over the wooden bridges. The only other time that I had to stop was at about mile 16 when I had to relieve myself in the bushes and that only took about 30 seconds. I was running really strong and I passed many hikers and other runners and gave them warnings as I approached them sometimes at really high speeds. I saw my friend Amy Sproston, who was out on a training run, at 53rd junction, and then Martin a few miles later. I blew past both of them only offering a quick "HEY"!
I knew I would hit the slowest part of the run going up from the Stone House toward Pittock Mansion and then it was into my "neck of the wood" in Washington Park (close to my apartment). Going up Pittock I stopped running and walked for about a minute while I pulled my headlamp out of my pack, and then it was back to huffing and puffing up the hill.
By the time I got to the top I could get a rough estimate of how long it would take to finish and I was surprised by how quickly I got to this point. I had really been in the zone the entire run. The blue blazes (that appear every quarter mile) seemed to show up every minute! and I passed through sections of the park so much quicker than I anticipated.
As I neared the end I kicked it into a high gear even though I was pretty fatigued in order to duck under 3:40 and was elated to finish with a 3:38:16
My initial plan was to run the 3 or so miles back home but when I finished I was so beat that I had to take the MAX train home from the zoo.
I had a really fun time and this was really a personally satisfying accomplishment for me. I'm sure there are people out there that can do it much quicker, and I think I can shave some time off there myself too. If you already have done so then let me know....If this is the record then I invite you to give it a go and push yourself and to see if you can lower this...you may just surprise yourself like I did....and that was a great feeling!