Why Not Try Wildwood Out & Back?

Wildwood Trail in Forest Park has intrigued me for as long as I’ve lived in Portland. I always wondered what it would be like to run all 30.2 miles continuously, but never imagined I’d run all 30.2 miles continuously twice in a row! As a self-proclaimed “roadie,” I never thought I’d run 60 miles in one day. Even now, I still can’t believe my legs carried me so far or that I can still walk!

The story behind my Wildwood out & back Fastest Known Time (FKT) actually began in April 2020 when the pandemic hit and races were cancelled. For my birthday, my husband and I decided to finally run Wildwood end to end for the first time. We spent the entire day outside and it was so much fun, but also completely exhausting. Cut to the very next day when teammate Liz Anjos completed Wildwood Trail end to end to end, 60 miles! She was the first female to complete the trail out & back and set the women’s unsupported FKT. I marveled at her huge accomplishment; for as tired as I felt after 30 miles, I couldn’t imagine turning around to run 30 miles more. It seemed impossible!

After my first Wildwood run, and as the pandemic waged on, I found myself on the trails more and more. I savored time in the forest and loved that I didn’t need to pay attention to my pace. I found that I didn’t miss the structure of training or doing workouts, instead I ran for hours almost every single day and felt better than ever. I even ran Wildwood end to end three more times! As the months continued to pass, I joined Liz on many of her long runs in her build up for the Promise Land 50K. On our runs together, we dragged ourselves up and down the fire lanes in Forest Park, navigated steep, sometimes snowy ridges, tackled all types of weather conditions, climbed literal mountains, and spent hours and hours on the trails honing our skills. In the moment, every run felt like an adventure. Every run felt fun, regardless how challenging or long. Instead of feeling beat up from the difficult runs, I felt emboldened; I found myself constantly questioning what else can my body do?

I can’t remember when I finally decided to attempt Wildwood out & back, but it was after considerable time on the trails and a little coaxing from Liz. “You’re already doing the training,” she pointed out. “Why not try?” 

Why not try? This was the question that fueled me for over 11 hours on April 23rd 2021. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day and the trail was dry and smooth. The day was not perfect – I ran out of water and food, and my watch died – but I made it 60 miles, the farthest I’ve ever run in a single day, a feat I once thought impossible! Thanks to Liz, I decided to give Wildwood out & back a try and on this day it earned me the new women’s unsupported Fastest Known Time. I’m so proud of this effort and honored to add my name to the board next to my dear friend and teammate.

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