Gorge Waterfalls 2024 is Here

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It’s finally Gorge Waterfalls week and we cannot wait to celebrate with everyone in person as well as on the livestream all weekend long! This race has long been a staple on the PNW spring calendar and after a brief hiatus due to the Eagle Creek Fire of 2017, has been reinvigorated over the last couple of years. We are going to take a quick break from refreshing the long-range weather forecast 🀞🏻and dig into some of the names we’ll be following on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – don’t forget to get your Freetrail Fantasy ballots in!

Our fearless leader Dylan Bowman working the finish line in 2023.
Our fearless leader Dylan Bowman working the finish line in 2023.

Gorge Waterfalls 30-kilometer

Kicking off the race weekend, added for the first time in 2023, the 30km runners will rip through green forests and past waterfalls starting at 10 AM on Friday. The 30km is a point-to-point course that starts at the Wahkeena Day Use Area and finishes at Cascade Locks in Marine Park which will serve as our finish line all weekend long. Packed into the 18.3 miles is 2,700 feet (823 meters) of elevation gain and loss.

The women’s race will feature a strong field of very speedy ladies, many of whom have come off of recent strong performances for this early in 2024 – leading that charge is Portland local Rachel Drake. Rachel ended her 2023 with a road marathon PR of 2:35:28 before kicking off 2024 with a pair of wins at “The Third” 33km race (part of the Hong Kong 100 race weekend) and at the Black Canyon 100km where she walked away with a golden ticket into Western States. Nipping at her heels are recent Chuckanut 50km standouts, Claire Devoe and Hannah Allgood. Claire, who won the Chuckanut 50km last month, is a late addition to the field and we can’t wait to watch her tear up the trails. After racing on Friday, Hannah will become our infield correspondent on Saturday and Sunday for the live streams, that’s what we call a team player!

The men’s race features a match-up we’ve been waiting for! Last year’s 30km winner (and trail rookie) Liam Meirow looks to repeat his 2023 performance, but last year’s 50km winner Matt Daniels is going to be looking to make that difficult. Both men were at the inaugural Big Alta weekend back in February where they each walked away with a third-place finish, Liam in the 28km and Matt in the 50km. Since then Matt also went up to the Chuckanut 50km where he placed second in one of the fastest times in the race’s 30-year history. Looking to mix it up in the fight for the podium is a runner who excels in short trail races, Pennsylvania’s Ben Robinson.

Fill in your 30km Freetrail Fantasy ballot before voting closes Friday morning.

A runner makes their way to an aidstation during the 2023 Gorge Waterfalls weekend.

Gorge Waterfalls 100-kilometer

While we might not currently be a golden ticket race like this route once was, the field continues to πŸ‘πŸ» show up πŸ‘πŸ», and we are gagged by just how good it is. Race morning kicks off early Saturday with a 5 AM gun to send the runners off onto a world-class scenic tour through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. The course is an out-and-back route that starts and finishes in the town of Cascade Locks. Packed into 62 miles is not just amazing waterfalls but also 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) of climbing and descending.

Women’s Field

This field is πŸ”₯ we kept scrolling and scrolling and the names just kept hitting.

Podium Favorites

  • Ailsa Macdonald – High-pointed her 2023 season with a 7th-place finish at UTMB. Has two wins already in 2024 at the Elephant Mountain 35km and the Mesquite Canyon 50km where she finished 1st and 2nd overall respectively.
  • Georgia Porter – Went all in on the 100-mile distance in 2023 winning the High Lonesome 100-mile and finishing 4th at Run Rabbit Run. In 2024 she finished 2nd at the Black Canyon 60km and just last month finished 7th at the Chuckanut 50km.
  • Lotti Brinks – One of last year’s 100km podium finishers she is one to watch, she went on to grab a golden ticket into Western States by winning the Grindstone 100km in September. Most recently we watched Lotti grab the win in the 50km at the Big Alta in February.

Other women to watch: Rachel Lemcke, Kristina Randrup, Michelle Buncke, Nichole Abma, and Jenny Quilty.

Men’s Field

While there are some known quantities on the start list we are excited about the unknown potential of this field.

Podium Favorites

  • Darren Thomas – Largely considered a short trail specialist we are thrilled to see Darren in the 100km. 2023 included a 4th at the Koidak Ultra 50km and a 10th at the UTCT 100km. Most recently Darren finished 2nd at the Big Alta 50km in February.
  • Elliot Cardin – This Canadian keeps on swinging and we are excited to see him stick the landing. 2023 saw him gutting through two golden ticket race finishes with an 8th at the Black Canyon 100km and an 11th at the Grindstone 100km.
  • Adam Loomis – Former Nordic-combined athlete (ski jumping and cross-country skiing) Adam has made an excellent transition over to the trails. While this will be his first race off of skis for the season his 2nd place finish back at the Quad Dipsea in November has us hopeful.

Other men to watch: Benjamin Linne, Ryan Sullivan, Joe Tucker, Brandon Miller, and Andrew Simpson.

Fill in your 100km Freetrail Fantasy ballot before the race kicks off Saturday morning.

Gorge Waterfalls gets it's name from some where.

Gorge Waterfalls 50-kilometer

Last but certainly not least, the 50km closes out the weekend on Sunday morning. The course runners will take from Wahkeena Day Use Area to Cascade Locks includes one small out-and-back on the Pacific Crest Trail before finishing at Marine Park. The 31-mile route packs in 5,800 feet (1,768 meters) of climbing and descending with a cruel 2-mile (and nearly 1,500-foot) climb to kick things off. It’s not just the waterfalls that may take the runners’ breath away on Sunday.

Women’s Field

While it might only be half the distance the race is expected to be fierce from the gun.

Podium Favorites

  • Tara Fraga – It doesn’t feel fair to call Tara an “up-and-comer” because to many it feels like she has already arrived. Tara finished 2023 with a 9th place finish at UTMB’s CCC and kicked off 2024 with a fantastic win at Trangrancanaria’s 84km race.
  • Lauren Puretz – A mom and doctor, Lauren does it all including finally snagging a golden ticket into Western States. After just missing a ticket finishing 4th at the Javelina 100-mile in 2023 dreams came true with a third-place finish at the Black Canyon 100km in February.
  • Sarah Biehl – If we know anything about Sarah, it’s that she has mega leg speed. In 2022 she took down Ellie Greenwood’s JFK 50-mile course record, and we look forward to seeing that trend continue. In 2023 she took 2nd at the Tamalpa Headlands 50km (the US Trail 50km Championship) and won the NACAC 50km representing Team USA.

Other women to watch: Michelle Lutz, Sarah Allaben and Abbigale Forsman.

Men’s Field

Similar to the men’s 100km the 50km is setting up to be a battle between established names and some fast new talent.

Podium Favorites

  • Chris Myers – A recent move to Boulder, Colorado seems to be treating Chris well. After a phenomenal 2023 Chris finally cracked the code and ran his way to a golden ticket by finishing third at the Black Canyon 100km in February.
  • Dylan Humberger – Dylan might be a new name to many, but his third-place finish at the Chuckanut 50km a month ago most certainly put him on our map. A Montanan based in the Ashland, Oregon area now we are excited to see Dylan move from regionally to nationally relevant.
  • Alex King – A kid from the other side of the Columbia River Gorge, Alex might have the FKT up every volcano in the PNW. After a major injury took him out for much of 2023 we are thrilled to see him back on a start line.

Other men to watch: Drew Mueller, Mike Sidic, and Josh Fry.

Don’t forget to get your 50km Freetrail Fantasy ballot before the race gets underway Sunday AM.

Zac Marion and Ellie Pell after the 30km in 2023.
Zac Marion and Ellie Pell after the 30km in 2023.

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