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Do Go Chasing Waterfalls

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For the third year in a row, Daybreak Racing and Freetrail joined forces in the PNW to bring together what we love about trail culture, community-centric high-production value racing. Spanning three days and three phenomenal distances, North America’s best trail runners showed up and battled it out for podium finishes, establishing a few course records along the way. With something for everyone – whether running, volunteering, spectating, and more – local pride was also at an all-time high, with Cascade Locks (or what we are calling Trail Town, USA) opening its arms to over 1200 athletes from 8 countries. Mountain Outpost brought their A-game to the live broadcast, showcasing the iconic Columbia River Gorge and stunning waterfall vistas to the wider running community, alongside an all-star Freetrail lineup behind the mic. 

All photos taken by our own Ryan Thrower

Friday

After debuting in 2023, the Gorge Waterfalls 30-km made its second appearance this year and did not disappoint. The point-to-point course takes runners from the Wahkeena Day Use Area through the town of Cascade Locks to the finish line in Marine Park, incorporating 2,700 feet of elevation gain and loss into the 18.3 miles. Beginning at 10am on Friday, 358 runners took to the startline for this scenic tour through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge.

Men’s 30-kilometer

Matt Daniels’ case for trail runner of the year only strengthens after his course record-breaking performance during Friday’s Gorge Waterfalls 30-km race, breaking the tape 10 minutes ahead of the previous course record. Matt’s victory seemed almost destined to be. From 3rd at The Big Alta 50-km, then 2nd at Chuckanut 50-km, Matt finally climbed atop the podium last weekend at Gorge, maintaining his undefeated streak in the state of Oregon. (Freetrail fantasy players take note: when Matt’s name is on a start list in Oregon, odds are that he’s going to come out on top!)

Initially, Matt planned on running the 100-km race, dropping down to the 30-km a month out in preparation for toeing the start line in two weeks at the Canyons Endurance Runs 100-km. 

Matt: “I got into Canyons 100-km last minute so decided this would be a great tune up two weeks out. After running Gorge last year [winning the 50-km] and having such a great time, I wanted to come back again!”

Tune in to the Canyons 100km on April 27th as Matt takes his shot at a golden ticket for the 2024 Western States Endurance Run (WSER).

Behind Matt, Liam Meirow upgraded his 3rd place finish from The Big Alta 28-km to finish 2nd in the Gorge Waterfalls 30-km. While Matt and Liam are no stranger to the trails, one of the biggest surprises of the weekend was Andrew Rylaarsdam of Bowerman Track Club Elite in 3rd. A rookie with no trail race results on UltraSignup, Andrew made one of the most seamless transitions to the trails from the roads this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see whether Gorge has converted Andrew to the darkside of trail and ultra running, over the track and roads: no pressure Freetrail and Daybreak Racing!

The men's 30km podium at GW 2024

Women’s 30-kilometer

2024 is quickly becoming the year of Rachel Drake, this weekend being no different. She took the win at Gorge Waterfalls 30-km in 2:17:49, two minutes ahead of Hannah Allgood in second and Claire DeVoe another two minutes back in third. Rachel Drake is putting together quite the resume this year with dominating wins at the Hong Kong “The Triple” 33-km race and Black Canyons 100-km, and is now preparing for her Western States debut this June. Oh and did I mention that she does all this while preparing to move from the Pacific NorthWest to Salt Lake City, UT, to begin her medical residency, and raising her young son! Check out this article “Any Surface, Any Distance with Rachel Drake” to learn more about Rachel.

Despite being one of the world’s best athletes, Rachel’s humble and community-oriented perspective sheds light on one of the best parts of trail running and the connection we hope to foster with Freetrail.

Rachel: “Gorge was an easy choice for me since it’s so close to home and it was a great opportunity to spend time with our community. I loved the moments where we got to bask in the waterfall’s mist and when I saw my family out on the course!”

Hannah Allgood and Claire DeVoe also put together stellar performances, backing up their recent 5th and 1st place finishes at the Chuckanut 50K respectively. We look forward to seeing Hannah race some of the world’s best at Transvulcania in May, and we are looking forward to watching Claire throw down at Broken Arrow in June. Also, in case you missed it (where have you been?!), Freetrail expert Hannah Allgood is now coaching our trail captain Dylan Bowman – if her podium performance is anything to go by, it won’t be long before DBo returns to the highest level of racing!

Women's 30km podium GW 2024

Saturday

Bright and early at 5am on Saturday morning, the historic Gorge Waterfalls 100-km kicked off. This out-and-back course showcased some of the PNW’s most inspiring views, as well as a variety of terrain and trail technicalities. Oh and did we mention the waterfalls??? Packed into the 62 mile race includes 11,000 feet of climbing and descending. While no longer a WSER golden ticket, the 100-km, like all three Gorge Waterfalls races, still attracted a red hot field of elite athletes, ready to duke it out for podium finishes and PRs.

Men’s 100-kilometer

After a long battle with eventual 9th place finisher Brandon Miller, Adam Loomis took the win in the Gorge Waterfalls 100-km in 8:44:12. An early five-man battle was whittled down to two by the halfway mark, but from mile 38 to the finish it was all about Adam Loomis. Finishing 15 minutes back in 2nd position was Canadian Elliot Cardin. Andrew Simpson nabbed 3rd place in a close battle with the 4th and 5th place finishers, in a time of 9:42:37. Usually opting for the slopes over trails this early in the season, it’s hard to imagine Adam regretting switching skis for lugs this weekend! Despite in his opinion not having “the running base that most of the top of the field has”, he “was confident going in that my [Adam’s] overall aerobic base was as good as anyone’s on the start line”.

Post-race, I caught up with Adam about his highlights of the day and overall comments on the event.

Adam; “It might sound cliche, but running in front of and behind the massive waterfalls was absolutely incredible. I loved that those sections were both techy and gorgeous (no pun intended)! Beyond that, it was fun sharing miles with some good people out there – both the racers and film crew – and running with D-Bo behind me filming was damn inspiring as a fan of this sport!”

The Men's podium for the 2024 Gorge Waterfalls 100km.

Women’s 100-kilometer

After winning Freetrail and Daybreak Racing’s inaugural The Big Alta 50-km back in February, Lotti Brinks’ hot streak continued as she broke the tape at Gorge Waterfalls 100-km, bettering her second place finish from 2023. She ultimately stopped the clock in a time of 9:53:56, over 15 minutes faster than 2023, Lotti’s stock is rising. For someone who has been unbeatable in every one of her races since July 2023, unbelievably, Lotti still seems to fly under the radar, so I’m taking it upon myself to champion the Lotti Brinks hype train!

Lotti: “I fell in love with this race last year and was eager to come back as soon as I crossed the finish line in 2023. Again, it worked out great as an early-season 100-km to remind the body what it feels like to run hard for a long time. Gorge always draws a competitive field so I was looking forward to being pushed while practicing race strategies for use in future goal races.”

Similar to the 30-km winner Rachel Drake, Lotti will be another debutant on the Western States startline in June, also using Gorge Waterfalls to prepare for her “A” race of the season. If you missed the live broadcast Lotti’s performance was particularly incredible because she did not move into first until roughly 10-km to go! Behind Lotti, early race leader Ailsa Macdonald put herself out there building almost a 20 minute lead before things started to fall apart. Despite her best effort her legs didn’t quite have what she had hoped for, leaving her in 2nd position, eight minutes back from the win in a time of 10:01:57. Rounding out the podium was the young Seattle favorite, Kristina Randrup, who came across the line in 10:14:54. All three women finished the day in the top ten overall. 

The 2024 Women's 100km podium at the Gorge Waterfalls.

Sunday

Similar to the 30-km course, Gorge Waterfalls 50-km took runners from the Wahkeena Day Use Area to Marine Park, with a small out-and-back after mile 20 to make up the mileage. Not for the faint-hearted, this 31-mile race packs in 5,800 feet of climbing and descending, with a cruel 2-mile and nearly 2,000-foot climb to kick things off! This year’s 292 finishers is testament to the growth of trail running, shared training knowledge, and each athlete’s sheer guts and determination!

Men’s 50-kilometer

Off the back of a phenomenal 3rd place finish in this year’s deepest ever Black Canyons 100-km, where he clinched a golden ticket for Western States, Chris Myers dominated the  50-km race. His crazy fast time of 3:51:01 is the second-fastest time on the current version of the course with only Ryan Miller running faster (2022, 3:50:17), and it put him over 10 minutes ahead of second place. Rounding out the podium were Dylan Humberger in 4:02:36 for 2nd, and Jared Foreman in 4:07:36 for third. 

The men's 50km podium at the 2024 Gorge Waterfalls.

Women’s 50-kilometer

Not to be out-classed by the other races of the weekend the women’s 50-km field came to throw down. Leading the way was Sarah Biehl running the third fastest time on the current version of the course in an incredible 4:26:20, finishing fifth overall, and 11 minutes clear of her nearest competitor. With less than two minutes between them, Tara Fraga and Lauren Puretz battled it out for second and third respectively, stopping the clock in 2:37:05 and 2:38:52. The entire women’s podium came to Gorge Waterfalls to prep for upcoming races – we’ll get to cheer on Tara at Valholl Argentina by UTMB and Sarah at Quad Rock 50-mile next month, and we’ll get to cheer on Lauren as she makes her WSER debut in June.

The women's 50km podium at the 2024 Gorge Watefalls.

Also worth a notable mention (if she doesn’t edit this part out!) is Freetrail’s editor-in-chief Corrine Malcolm, smiling her way across the 50k finish line!

Finally, the folks behind Mountain Outpost were back at it, bringing you the best live race coverage in the whole of trail and ultra running on their YouTube channel. Jamil Curry and his team, together with runner cams on course trying to keep pace with the race leaders – special shoutout again to DBo – and an all-star lineup behind the mic, showcased another successful Freetrail and Daybreak Racing collaboration to the world! 

From first to last, crew to local residents, the Gorge Waterfalls race weekend puts on, in the words of 100-km winner Adam Lomis, “one hell of an event” with the community at its heart. “All the finish line hugs and celebrations” was also something women’s 50km winner Sarah Biehl made sure to highlight. If you’re looking for a professionally run event with all the best feels of grassroots racing, Gorge Waterfalls has it all. See you in 2025!

You can find full results over on UltraSignup.

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