Run the Timothy Lake Trail + a Cool Timberline Marathon Finish

What's it like to run the Timberline Marathon?

  • It's awesome
  • 26.2 miles of single-track around Timothy Lake
  • Lots of eye-candy through Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest
  • High-fives, fist-bumps and cheers from campers, hikers and people fishing

πŸƒβ€β™€οΈThis year 500 runners stepped up to the starting line for the full marathon, and two days of half marathons.

πŸ‘ŸEven though I've ran hundreds of miles at Timothy Lake over the last 15 years and finished the Timberline Marathon many times, something pretty cool happened this year...

Timothy Lake is about 20 miles south of the historic Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood in Oregon.

Ever heard of the Timberline Marathon?

If you're remotely familiar with the Pacific Northwest, chances are pretty good you've heard of Mount Hood.

  • It's the tallest peak in Oregon (11,249 feet).
  • It's where you'll find the historic Timberline Lodge, built in 1938
  • And it's the only year-round skiing destination in the United States

Just a few miles south of there, you'll find Timothy Lake, where the Timberline Marathon takes place.

The Timberline Marathon and Half Marathon were held at Timothy Lake on June 10-11.

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

Early Saturday morning (June 10, 2023) at the historic Clackamas River Ranger Station near Timothy Lake, runners milled about at the starting line.

🌲In the shade of towering Douglas firs and cool-morning temperatures, the mosquitos were 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.
.
πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ 76 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 announced from a microphone.

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

And there's a reason I ran across the starting line first...

No, I wasn't planning to win or even try to cross the finish line first.

  • The real reason:  I didn't want to get caught in a bottleneck on some of the narrow single-track trail around Timothy Lake...something I learned from experience.

πŸ‘‹I waved goodbye to my crew, and took off, heading down to the Timothy Lake Trail that circumnavigates the lake.

And it wouldn't take long for first-place finisher Richard Elmore to leave me in the dust.

The Timberline Marathon includes two loops around Timothy Lake:

  • Runners start at the historic Clackamas River Ranger Station
  • Run down to the Timothy Lake Trail
  • Then run counter-clockwise around the lake crossing wooden bridges, climbing a rocky outcropping, passing hike-in-only and car-camping sites, intersecting the Pacific Crest Trail...
  • 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
  • Reach the Dam, say "hi" to my crew
  • Run by all the campgrounds for the second loop

Miles 14 -26.2

  • The Heckler. As I climb the rocky switchback for the second time, a family with kids are hiking up. I slow to a walk. As I pass a kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old, he says, "Hey, aren't you supposed to be running?"
  • The Pickle Juice Shot: Around 20 miles, my stomach was starting to turn. I fumbled with a pickle juice shot at an aid station. Then gave up in frustration. "Can you help me open this?" I handed it to a guy, and without hesitation he ripped it open with his teeth. Thank you very much...down the hatch.
  • The Ugly Climb. The mile-run down to the lake was fun at the start of the race. But on the way back, this was kind of a beast. Climb up, catch my breath, keep on running.
  • The Finish. I held sixth place most of the race. Then in the final 5K, first-place female finisher Jess Contreras flew by, like I was practically standing still.
  • Celebrate. I met my 17-year-old son Davis Jensen at the finish (he ran the half marathon), along with the rest of our crew.
  • Post-Race Recovery. Chocolate milk, grilled turkey sandwich, French fries, and strawberry shortcake.
The Timberline Marathon includes two laps around Timothy Lake on mostly single-track trail, and crosses the Timothy Lake Dam managed by Portland General Electric.

You're 'dam' right this is an awesome race

The first time I visited Timothy Lake, I was 14 years old. And I...

  • Canoed across the lake with friends
  • Camped and fished along the shore line
  • Cooked Ramen noodles over a campstove
  • Roasted marshmallows
  • And even ran a couple of carefree miles along the Timothy Lake Trail

Thirty-plus years ago, I never imagined...

  • Running a marathon here
  • Returning with my kids to camp, hike, swim and run
  • Laying down the hammer at Timothy Lake to run the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra eight times...and counting.

You're 'dam' right I think this is an awesome place to run.
.
But it means a lot more to me than just a race...

The author with his three-year-old son at Timothy Lake 14 years ago.

Run for your life...

The first time my son saw Timothy Lake up close, he was just three years old.

  • We played in the water.
  • We soaked up the sun.
  • We laughed.
  • We ate hot dogs, chips, soda and cookies

And then life took one of those ugly and unexpected turns...

  • Something happened that turned everything upside down.
  • When he was 11, we had to find a way to put "that" behind us, move on, learn to navigate the new normal.
  • When a counselor suggested physical activity, I proposed a crazy idea...run the Timberline Half Marathon

And the plan was simple...

  • Spend more time with my son
  • Get outside
  • Be active
  • Create an experience that could teach him: "I can do hard things."
  • But most importantly, have fun, experience joy, laugh more...

And that's exactly what we did...

Evan Jensen ran the Timberline Marathon on June 10, 2023. Davis Jensen ran the Timberline Half Marathon. They've ran the race together three times since 2017.

Timberline Marathon & Half Marathon race results

So how did this year's Timberline Marathon & Half Marathon go at Timothy Lake?

My son and I finished the Timberline Marathon and Half Marathon...again.

  • Evan Jensen finished the marathon in 4:00:43 (7th overall, 2nd in 40-49 age group)
  • Davis Jensen finished the half marathon in 2:28:37 (39th overall, 1st in Under 19 age group)

And even though I've crossed the Timberline Marathon finish line many times, here's a few reminders it never gets old...

  • πŸŽ‰It's Time to Party. I've been running this race and trails around the Pacific Northwest long enough, it's like going to a party with friends...
  • πŸ˜€Go Explore. There's lots of familiar faces + friendly conversations with people experiencing Timothy Lake for the first time.
  • πŸ₯’Bite me. Aid station volunteers were helpful and friendly. Shout out to the guy who ripped open my pickle-juice packet with his teeth.
  • πŸ’©WTF? The re-route on the north side of the lake was a muddy mess.
  • 🏁Let's Do It Again. And the finish line was amped with music, cheering fans, and plenty of post-race snacks
From left: Hailey Luff, Evan Jensen, Davis Jensen. Hailey Luff finished her second 26.2-mile race at the Timberline Marathon.

Gear & Fuel + a Shoutout

πŸ‘‹Best Crew & Cheerleaders 

  •  Shazam Smith & Steven Watts for pushing me and Davis Jensen to the finish line. 

πŸ‘ŸShoes

  • Nike Pegasus Trail 4

⌚Watch

Handheld

Drink

Fuel

  • HumaPlus Energy Gel

Anti-Chafing

Shout Out!

  • Saw lots of RUNNING friends out on the course, including Hailey Luff who crushed her second marathon and FIRST trail marathon with a gnarly hill climb at the end.

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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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