As I learned the hard way, running the Timberline Trail is really hard. I’m proud to report I completed all 41 miles with 9k feet of elevation gain in 14 hours 33 minutes. Plus, I was fortunate to do it with a great crew (Nick, Michael, Jordan) on an absolutely gorgeous day.
For the unacquainted, the Timberline Trail is a big ol’ loop around Mt. Hood. Most people take 3-4 days to backpack it, enjoying the incredibly diverse ecosystems and views around the mountain. The more hardcore folks (and saps who get suckered into it) try to run it as fast as they can. And if the distance and elevation isn’t hard enough, there are about 20 steam crossings to contend with and the trail quality can be quite variable.
The key to completing? Don’t bonk. If you let your body end up in a depleted state, you’re a goner. For me this meant:
- Consuming 250 calories/hour, even when I really didn’t want a sixth Gu.
- Keeping my heart rate under 150/bpm, even if it meant splitting our group at the 14 mile mark (Nick wanted to do a sub-12 hour pace). Super thankful to Jordan for running with me.
- Salt tablets (you lose a lot of salt), caffeine in small doses, and Tylenol to deaden the pain.
- Some pretty awesome gear: Katadyn BeFree 0.6L water bottle, longer running shorts with a liner, Tifosi Photochromic Sunglasses, and a new Garmin Forerunner 245 (thanks to Automattic’s fitness tracker perk).
If you do bonk, you might be 10 miles from a trailhead. So don’t bonk.