Latest reviews by Jonathan Sisley

(2018)
"A fast run for a great cause!"
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I received free entry to this run courtesy of Salem Hospital. Thus, I didn't know I was running this race until a week prior!

This was a great race for a great cause! The money was raised for The Center for Hope & Safety which is a group that helps domestic violence survivors. The course was on a closed campus of a local police academy (I believe?) which was really neat. For warm-ups, there is a fun exercise trail that I got to explore before running the course. The course itself has many turns, and is a 5K loop that you run twice if you are a 10K runner. Here (https://www.strava.com/activities/1888145769) is a link to my Strava data from my run just so you can see the amount of turns you run during the course. It seems to be on a closed practice driving course, and so it is mostly flat with only the slightest of inclines. Thus, the course feels rather fast. I did get misguided during my run once due to the volunteers not really know which turn I was supposed to take, but this was not a major issue. Aid stations were well-placed and the volunteers were very helpful in getting water to the runners.

T-shirts/swag: There is only a T-shirt included with your entry fee if you register early enough, but the T-shirt was a nice cotton t-shirt with a fun artistic design. It was so soft it quickly became my lounging around shirt! There is no other swag, unless you place top 3 overall in your gender. Then there were water bottles (blue, red, green respective for their place). There was no mention of finisher medals at all, so I was pleasantly surprised when someone handed me a medal as I crossed the line.

Parking: Really easy and ample parking. Close to the start and it's within the closed campus so you don't have to worry about it. It really couldn't be any better!

Timing: The timing is well-done by a local company that does MANY races of all sorts of competitiveness. Some runners noted that their GPS only clocked 6 miles, but my Garmin Forerunner 230 clocked 6.3 miles. Note that I was turned around and had to run some extra, but I don't believe that was more than 0.1 miles, so I think the course was the appropriate distance.

Overall: The race was great! It's fast if you want it to be, and it's laid back if you're just there to support their excellent cause. I will definitely be returning to support the cause next year.

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(2018)
"The Autumn Leaves were beautiful! "
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This was my 1st 50 miler, and I chose a really good race to test the waters of an Ultra!

Finding this park was very easy. Even though I had never been there, I just plugged in the location and followed my GPS. When I got inside the park, a volunteer was waiting for me to direct me to the parking lot. I was one of the later arrivals, (25 minutes before the start) so I got the later arrival parking which was maybe 200 meters from the start. The early arrivals were actually able to park alongside the running course and could keep their vehicles open for access during the race. Next year I'll make sure to be early! The course starts around the parking lot at a pavilion and moves out onto a paved bike trail. There were lots of Frisbee golfers out cheering us on later in the run, but it was dark when we started. Some 50 milers started an hour earlier with the early start option and headlamps were a must for all. Once beyond the frisbee golf part of the park, there is a well-stocked aid station with Gu, bananas, watermelons, sugary drinks, candy, and pastries. The volunteers would even keep your labeled water bottles and fill them up for when you hit the station coming back! There is a narrow 1-lane bridge that requires communicating with any traffic but is not a huge event, and this leads into the rolling hills on the course. Nothing too terrible--I didn't notice the hills on lap 1, but lap 8 they were grueling. The turn-around is at the 5K which is unfortunately at the top of an incline and looks down on you tauntingly. You run the same way back, and once passed the aid station, instead of going back towards the frisbee golf part of the park, there is a trail that is reminiscent of high school cross country for about 1.75 miles. This leads you back to the start where there is another well-stocked aid station for a total of 10km per lap. My GPS read 49.1 at the finish of my 50 miler so it's rather accurate for distance.

Elevation/Aid stations: As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there were some rolling hills but it was nothing significant to report. It's a good flat ultra, and if you're going for a PR it would be flat enough to be considered a PR course. The aid stations are great quality and the volunteers are so helpful and eager to get you towards your goal. Bonus: They had dogs to pet!

Scenery: There's about a mile of bike path at the beginning of the loop that I wasn't too fond of due to it being wide open fields that got warm in the afternoon. Once you get to the park there was a little more to look at and there was decent coverage. Following the bike path the bridge leads to a nice wooded area so covered in trees that when it rained on my last lap I didn’t get wet until I was out of the woods! The trail section of the run is neat too and helps the miles go by quickly.

Swag: Okay, finally to the important part! Top 3 placers in their respective gender category for overall and masters received nice drinking glasses with a screen printing of the race name on it. All entrants received a rather generic looking t-shirt that you can see in the attached photo. 50K finishers received a medal. I don't know if this is standard for this race, or if it was just for this year since this year Autumn Leaves was a designated race for the Road Runners Club of America series. 50 mile finishers received a silver belt buckle also visible in the photo.

I'm always just so impressed by the great community running brings together, and this run was no exception to that. The volunteers were on-top of everything and ran this race without a hiccup that I noticed! Finishing and hearing "it was so much fun watching you run out there" is something I won't forget! I would recommend this for anyone wanting a fast race, a mentally challenging race (8 loops for 50 miles!), or someone who wants to experience the cream of the crop when it comes to camaraderie in the Ultra running community.

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(2018)
"Incredible crew + incredible race = Perfect first Ultra!"
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As the title states, this was my first ultra. Angry Owls is unique in that it is a timed race, so there were 3 time options: 6 hour, 12 hour, and 24 hour. I chose the 6 hour and decided to run as much as I could! Having never run more than a marathon before, I was setting my goal at 31 miles (a 50K), which I greatly surpassed at 41 miles!

Delving into the comments about the race and explanation for my rankings:

T-shirts/SWAG: I'm not a huge fan of all the bling and t-shirts that come with every race. I have more T-shirts than I can hope to wear, and my medals often just collect dust. Angry Owl understood that, and gave us very sleek hats instead! This surely helped to keep the race cost lower which I appreciated as a recent college grad.

Aid stations: It's a 1-mile looped course, so there was only 1 aid station at the start/finish. It was VERY well stocked with anything you could wish to eat and drink. Pizza, gummy bears, pickles, Tailwind, burritos and the list could just go on! I brought my own supplements, but I was confident that should I run out, they would have what I needed. Oh, and I snuck a couple gummy bears at the end.

Course scenery: For a 1 mile course, Bush Park was excellent. You run mostly on trail, right by Willamette University's track, and then back into the forest that lines a creek you can hope into. When the temps reach 95 degrees on your run, the creek was a blessing.

Elevation: I think the change in elevation was maybe 7ft per mile? It's extremely flat and the one "climb" is just a short section of the trail approximately 1/3 of the way into the mile.

Parking: Ample parking at Bush park and in the neighborhood around. The start is also set-up right next to the parking zone, and the course runs right by it, so you could even back in your car, pop open the trunk and set-up right there, which is exactly what my crew did. It also made it easy for my spectating family and friends to find the area since it was just adjacent to the parking lot.

Race management: Absolutely terrific! From the hype posts on Facebook to the informative emails days in advance, this race management was 5 stars! They are super friendly, and they would sing praise to each runner as they ran by! I've never felt more supported and cared about as a racing individual than the Crusty Cap crew made me feel. They would joke about the color of my shorts, tell me my pace was amazing, and one volunteer or race coordinator came up to my car afterwards as I hobbled in to congratulate me on a great run.

Overall: 10/10 I would recommend this as anybody's first ultra! It's an easy course that is well supported. You won't get bored running in the loops, and if you're looking to push yourself the race managers will make sure that you are well equipped in morale and aid to make it there! I'm absolutely looking forward to running this race again, but maybe spending more time on the course (24 hours...!) because of the great people I met.

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(2016)
"Excellent trail race! Prepare for mud!"
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This race was perhaps one of the wildest races I have ran to date (and I've raced races called "The Monster")!

This early morning run up at the Silverfalls is a great way to spend the weekend. There is an option to camp up at the Falls (and why not, it's a beautiful place) so if you are coming from far away, don't be deterred! Every year, this race encourages a costume contest that is Cowboy themed, and it's always fun to see people run really fast in extravagant costumes. So grab that cowboy hat before you head out the door!

Nature also makes this course extremely variable from year to year. There have been years where it has snowed up at the falls, and years of torrential rain have caused me to fall in the bushes and lose my shoes countless times. However, the scenery more than makes up for the muddy run. It's absolutely a beautiful run, and don't worry, the elevation change keeps you from going too fast so you can enjoy it. There are no aid stations along the way, but don't worry, there is excellent food and beer at the finish line (didn't try the beer, but it seemed to have people coming back for seconds). The elevation change consists of a never-ending hill that starts almost immediately and continues for about 4 miles. Once you summit, it's a steep drop back to the start line! This year, it might have been faster to have skies than to try and run down the muddy hill.

The race management and post-run party was absolutely wonderful. RunWildAdventures never fails to impress, and their staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The food and snacks offered were delicious, and it was nice to warm up with a hot bowl of chili after my run. The awards ceremony was well done too. Top finishers overall received amazing wooden cowboy hat shaped medals, whereas top placers in age group received boot-shaped ones. There was also several categories to win other prizes such as "muddiest runner", "best cowboy costume", "most RunWild events attended" which were all voted upon by the crowd's cheers. There was also a raffle for everything from awesome RunWild gear to Montrail shoes. It was great watching the whole running community cheering and having fun after running such a difficult race!

Overall, definitely book this on your list of "to-do" runs if you are in the area. If not, look for RunWild events because you will not be disappointed by the community it brings, the tier of the race, and if you're looking for competition it'll be there too.

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(2015)
"Pints to Pasta: If you like an undetermined race start, get 'em here! "
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I had lots of fun running the Pints to Pasta race (I have fun running every race so is that new?) Here is a category-by-category breakdown of why I would run this again, but wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants to run the 10K!

Overall: Smooth, fast, and over before you know it. The start line seems congested, but it was easy enough to get loose and find your position.

T-Shirts/SWAG: I always love the designs that the HTC Race series comes up with, and the Pints to Pasta was a unique green and yellow color that I got to add to my collection. Their bibs (which I collect) are uniquely designed and well colored, and the medals are absolutely fantastic. If you are a fast runner looking for some cool swag if you win, the age division and overall prizes were very nice. Placing 3rd overall and 1st in my age division, I got two headlamps for Hood to Coast by Led Lenser, two beer glasses (oops, I can't use these!) and two active headphones.

Aid Stations: I don't use many aid stations, but I want to give it 5-stars because the volunteers remembered me (either from previous races or earlier that day) and they even have younger children volunteering and they always try very hard to get you water and I honestly think it's awesome. I love seeing the younger children getting involved in something I love.

Scenery: It was through downtown Portland, so it wasn't going to be the trees and forests like a cross country race. I did enjoy running alongside the Riverfront (which is also a part of the course for Hood to Coast) and running across the bridge feels fast. However, after you cross the bridge, making it to the turn-around point was a little dull.

Other key points: One thing I would touch on is the elevation. It's a noticeable incline for the first mile and that threw off my pace, but then you go down for a long time (1.5 miles or so?) If you are going for a PR (Personal Record) maybe not the course. Although I was able to secure one for myself, the extremely long hill at the end definitely didn't help.

Why would I run this again? Because I want to challenge that hill again! I also love the unique bibs and shirts so if I'm paying for a race, I feel like I really got my money's worth in the end! If the smile isn't enough proof, what is?

EDIT
So I totally forgot (and was reminded by a friend) on the confusion at the race start. The original start time was pushed way back, and the starters were very inconsistent with their decision. We ended up starting half an hour later (or so) and getting closer they said "10 minutes" which turned out to actually only be 3 and resulted in me stripping down out of warm-up gear really fast. They also lacked any smart mode of transportation to the 10K start (half-marathon was out-and-back) so people were starting way off time in waves. To put in to perspective: I ran to the 10K start from the Half start and turned around and as I passed through the 10K start the second time, there were people still getting off the shuttle bus to start their race. That's like 40 minutes after the leaders of the 10K had started. They needed about 5 times the amount of busses than what they had calculated for the amount of people running. So I would do this again, but so I don't get caught up in the bussing situation I would run the half, not the 10K.

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