Since the pandemic began two years ago, many of the annual foot races in Central Oregon were forced to postpone or cancel their events. Virtual races became common in 2020, followed by hybrid or downsized races in 2021. For many veterans and beginners, however, this spring offers a return to normal. This season presents an opportunity to return to the full experience of cheering crowds and thumping finish parties. Whether you are looking to knock out some cobwebs after a winter offseason or simply seeking a fun afternoon, spring will have no shortage of races to choose from in Central Oregon.
Lucky Leprechaun 5k/10k
While the St. Patrick’s Day Dash in Bend is canceled this year due to COVID-19, Kelly Bither of Run Sisters Run will be hosting the Lucky Leprechaun 5k/10k in Sisters on March 12. The race will start on the east side of Cascade Avenue and wind through the neighborhoods and town before finishing at a local restaurant with live music. Finishers will receive a custom and locally made shamrock medal and commemorative beer mug.
“It’d be nice for people who aren’t super serious but want to get out in the community,” Bither said, adding that walkers are welcome. There will also be a Best-Dressed Lucky Leprechaun contest and beer from Three Creeks Brewing. See runsignup.com.
After two years of hosting a virtual event, the Bend Marathon returns in person this year with options in the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distances on Sunday, April 10. “We’re really hopeful and excited, and desperately want to be able to bring this event back to the community,” said Kari Strang, a Bend Marathon race director.
While the virtual events were great, she said, it just isn’t the same as a full in-person event. “There’s something about that human element and that true connectedness that you get when you are out doing something challenging together,” she said. Participants can still register for a virtual Bend Marathon and can receive a full refund if the race is canceled due to COVID-19. See bend-marathon.com.
Peterson Ridge Rumble
For those who feel a little more adventurous, the Peterson Ridge Rumble will also take place on Sunday, April 10, and will offer distances of twenty miles and forty miles. The race takes place on the Peterson Ridge and Metolius-Windigo trails near Sisters. Proceeds will go to help fund the Sisters High School cross country team.
The Rumble, organized by Sean Meissner, is both cheaper and more easygoing than most races this length. Total elevation gain for the forty-miler is about 2,700 feet while the twenty-miler is about 1,000 feet, which contributes to a fast course. Instead of finisher shirts, runners will receive a pair of finisher socks.
The race is old school and lowkey, Meissner said. “It’s just very runnable.” See runlikeardy.com.
For those looking to race in Bend, the 2022 Salmon Run on April 23 has runners follow the flow of the Deschutes River before looping back with 5k, 10k and half-marathon options. “The Salmon Run is the oldest continuous race in Bend,” said Aaron Switzer, a producer for the race. “Of all the races,” he said, “I think it’s one of the best ones to showcase Bend.”
While the half marathon is usually the most popular event, Switzer said, the Salmon Run 10k is a very popular early-season race for those looking to shed their winter layers and work up to the half marathon distance. The event benefits the Environmental Center in downtown Bend, which directs the funds towards river restoration and habitat restoration. See bendraces.com.