Local runners complete 50-miler

Woodley, Simond tackle McKenzie River Trail race

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Steve Woodley

Two runners from Vancouver completed the McKenzie River Trail 50-mile footrace on Saturday near Eugene, Ore.

It was the first 50-mile trail race for both Steve Woodley and Jennifer Simond.

Woodley finished in 9 hours, 16 minutes, 52 seconds. He was 19th of the 62 runners who finished the course within 12 hours.

Simond finished before race officials closed the course, but not within the 12-hour limit to receive an official time.

It was Woodley’s first competitive race in four years because of back injuries suffered in a car accident.

Now 41, he began training in November. He has completed six marathons, but had never attempted to race 50 miles.

“It was pretty amazing,” Woodley said on Monday.

This was the fourth ultra trail run for Simond, 39. But it was the first time she’d raced 50 miles. She ran the 50-K McKenzie River Trail Run last year. Her name was not chosen in the entries lottery for that event this year, so she opted to enter the longer race.

Adding to the challenge, she twice fractured her foot this year and ran on Saturday wearing a partial cast on one foot using a larger shoe size.

“I was curious if 50 kilometers (31 miles) was my cutoff,” she said.

The distance was not the only challenge. A majority of the course followed single-track trails. There was a climb of 2,000 feet in elevation over the first 19 miles. There were log bridges, seven stairways, and plenty of volcanic rocks.

Simond said it was the first time she’s run in the dark with a headlamp — the race started at 5 a.m. — and that picking her way across sharp lava was one challenge on the ascent that started the day.

“I was very fearful that I would fall on my face and be out in the first couple of miles,” she said.

The challenge over the last three hours, as she pressed to make the 12-hour cutoff, was that she was without water to drink. She had arrived 20 minutes late at the first aid station and the bag with her additional supplies was not there, she said.

“I was looking longingly at the water in the river,” she said.

Simond finished about 10 minutes before race officials closed the course, she said.

On Monday afternoon, Simond said that her knees were swollen and one of them was sore, but she didn’t feel any more beat up than she did after her three 50-kilometer ultra trail races.

“I think the human body is capable of amazing things,” she said.

Woodley said his legs got tired, but he was determined to finish the race for daughters Karina (age 4) and Kiera (2) and for friend Kristen Dunn who introduced him to trail running.

Woodley entered the McKenzie River Trail Run just days before the race. He has been training since November for the first Volcanic 50-K, a 31-mile trail race scheduled for this Saturday on Mount St. Helens. He said he intends to complete that race as well.

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