If You Hear THIS During the Timberline Marathon...RUN!!!😱

If you run the Timberline Marathon near Mount Hood in Oregon, there's something you might hear around the Timothy Lake Trail.

  • It's not a wild animal like a bear or cougar. 
  • It's not Bigfoot, although it's known to wander the Pacific Northwest
  • And it's not the sound of campers partying around the lake

But if you hear it, it's a sound that could send chills up your spine, make you want to hurl, and dig deep to practically run for your life.
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One June 8-9, 2024, 625 runners showed up to run the Timberline Marathon and Half Marathon around Timothy Lake, and at least one runner heard the sound.
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Here's what happened...

Timberline Marathon & Half Marathon: Run Around Timothy Lake

What's it like to run the Timberline Marathon?

  • It's awesome
  • About 13 miles of single-track around Timothy Lake (one loop for the half marathon, two loops for the marathon)
  • Lots of eye-candy through Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest (towering Douglas firs and cedars, views of Timothy Lake and Mt. Hood, and the historic Clackamas Ranger Station built in 1933)
  • High-fives, fist-bumps and cheers from crew, spectators, campers, hikers and people fishing

👟Even though I've ran hundreds of miles at Timothy Lake over the last 15 years and finished the Timberline Marathon many times, I heard a sound late in the race this year that got my attention...
.
I tell you more about that in just a bit.

Timberline Marathon: On your mark...Get set...GO!

I'm standing at the starting line of the Timberline Marathon.
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Only one runner at a time can go through the timing chute. And I've learned from experience, you don't want to get caught in a bottleneck on some of the narrow single-track sections.
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So I find a spot right up front. I'm not the fastest runner, but there will be fewer runners to go around if I start up front.
.
Runner 1: "Have you ran this race before?"
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Me: "Yes, about 10 times."
.
Runner 1: "How technical and hilly is the course?"
.
Runner 2: "It's really not that bad. There's a couple of moderate climbs, some rocky stuff, and a lot of nice single-track. I read about this race on a blog called WeeViews."🤣
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While we wait for the official start, the mosquitos are biting.

  • 🦟Perched on a tree stump distanced from the starting line, were cans of "Off" bug spray, where some runners were taking a pre-race bath.
  • 🏃‍♂️ 65 marathon runners were ready to go the distance, taking the last few minutes before go-time to fine-tune shoes, gear, packs, and fuel.

🎤"We're gonna countdown from 10," the race director announces from a microphone.

"10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1..."

👋I waved goodbye to my crew, and take off, heading down to the Timothy Lake Trail that circumnavigates the lake.
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I'm the first through the timing-chip chute, but about 10 runners cruise by on my way down to the lake. 
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When I reach the footbridge, I'm feeling good, settling into my pace, and ready for:

  • Climbing the rocky outcropping on the south side of the lake
  • Passing the hike-in-only and car-camping sites
  • Intersecting the Pacific Crest Trail on the north side, and...
  • Crossing the Timothy Lake Dam managed by Portland General Electric before beginning loop 2

Miles 1-13

Miles 1 - 13

  • Start. Leave the Clackamas River Ranger Station & run down to the lake
  • Cross the foot bridge to run the Timothy Lake Trail counterclockwise
  • Cruise all the miles to the zig-zag of bridges
  • Slog through the trail reroute near the Pacific Crest Trail intersection
  • Look for views of Timothy Lake between the trees
  • Cross the dam and keep going
  • Run by all the campgrounds for the second loop

Two pitstops during loop 1

💩Around mile 5, I had to make an emergency pitstop in the woods

  • Dairy Queen burger and fries for dinner + Krispy Kreme Dolly Parton donuts for dessert🤣

🪧Around mile 10, I made an intentional pitstop to put up a sign for my son and friends running the half marathon:

  • Davis Jensen
  • Russ Bird
  • Tyson Bird

Davis and Tyson competed against each other in high school cross country and track. Russ is a regular at the gym who trains hard to hike all the miles during hunting season, and he ran the half marathon with his son.
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While David Goggins might be a little rough around the edges for some people, his no-excuse mindset is perfect for runners trying to push their limits.
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Fun fact: David Goggins also inspired Aaron Clineman to push through pain and self-doubt to finish the Rock 'N the Knob Trail Challenge.

Miles 14 - 26.2

When I reached the footbridge to start loop 2, my wife was waiting for me.

  • We chatted for a minute. 
  • I gulped down about 8 ounces of grape-flavored Precision Nutrition electrolyte drink.
  • I ate a handful of raspberry-flavored Skratch Labs Energy Chews
  • Then handed over my garbage, and took off

For a long time, I ran in silence. I knew only a handful of marathon runners were ahead of me. Eventually, I reached the half marathoners still on the course.
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Mile 18: Eat Dirt
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I'm cruising along with just 8 miles to go. And I'm literally thinking:
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"Wow, this section has a lot of roots. Better watch your step."
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Seconds later, I trip on a root, throw my hands out, and hit the dirt.
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Fortunately, I wasn't hurt. Got back up, dusted things off, and kept going.

A terrifying sound & punishing climb to the finish

When I reached the footbridge after completing loop 2, there's a punishing uphill climb to the finish.
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I started making my way up the hill with rocks, roots, and a couple of switchbacks.
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And I was feeling pretty good overall, close to my goal pace and finish time.
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By now, I had passed the half-marathoners still on the course, and more than a dozen marathoners.

😱And then I heard THE sound...

Fast moving footsteps. And it wasn't a half-marathoner kicking his way to the finish.
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It was a marathoner. Even though I was running, the guy cruised by like I was standing still.
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With less than 1/4-mile to the finish, I heard more footsteps, coming up fast.
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This time, I started hammering the pace, trying to get to the finish before getting passed again. But that was a footrace I couldn't win.
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Later I learned the two runners who passed me on the home stretch were:

  • 🏃‍♂️David Schmidt: 4:02:27, 7th overall
  • 🏃‍♂️Trace Morris: 4:04:14, 8th overall

The finish line

I rolled into the finish with a time of 4:04:26, 9th overall, and 2nd in my age group.
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Fun fact: When I looked up the ages of male runners on the course, I'm the 10th oldest to go the distance. Not bad for an old guy.
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My father-in-law handed me a celebratory chocolate milk, and we cheered on the rest of runners

Timberline Marathon & Half Marathon Results

🏃‍♂️Evan Jensen (marathon)

  • Time: 4:04:26. 9th overall. 2nd in M40-49 age group.

🏃‍♂️Davis Jensen (half marathon)

  • Time: 2:24:34. 2nd in M-1-19 age group.

🏃‍♂️Tyson Bird (half marathon)

  • Time: 3:15:13

🏃‍♂️Russ Bird (half marathon)

  • Time: 3:16:49

Gear & Fuel + a Shoutout

👋Best Crew & Cheerleaders 

👟Shoes

  • Nike Pegasus Trail 5

Watch

🦺Hydration Pack

💧Drink

Fuel

😭Anti-Chafing

👊Shout Out!

  • Saw lots of RUNNING friends out on the course, including Chris Stubblefield who finished 6th overall in the half marathon in 1:55:18. This was a redemption run after eating dirt early in the race last year. Nice work, man!

What's next?

  • Long training runs. Lifting weights. And prepping for my 10th Mountain Lakes 100 in September.

What's your favorite race?

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Evan Jensen
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SANDY, Oregon
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I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...

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