Wood You Rather race is a new kind of trail run from Go Beyond Racing. It a checkpoint run, where you decide, by using a map, where you’ll go to get to as many checkpoints as you can. There is a specified amount of time available to find the checkpoints and get back to the finish line.
Racers pick up their map when they get their bibs on race morning. There is no pre-defined course as each participant decides the route they’ll take. This adds to the excitement as runners will need to figure out where they’ll go right before the race starts, and can make adjustments to their strategy while they are out. The maps are fairly simple, show the trails and have topographic lines so racers can decide how much climbing, descending, and general distance they want to run. Depending on the route they take, participants can expect to cover at least seven and up to 10 or 11 miles.
There are nine possible checkpoints and two hours available to get to as many of them as you can or want to. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. The checkpoints shut down at 10:00 a.m. Runners have to cross the finish line by 10:30 a.m. There’s strategy involved here, as you could try for just one more checkpoint, but may run the risk of not getting back to the finish in time. Do you go for the farthest out checkpoints first? Or do you grab the nearby ones right off the bat?
Wood you rather go up a steeper trail to get to a checkpoint, or wood you rather take a longer route so you can avoid climbing as much? There are many considerations racers face when choosing how they’ll take on this new kind of running challenge. The ability to read a map is necessary, but runners don’t need to be experts to figure out where to go. And those with experience running in Forest Park and knowledge of the trails will have a definite advantage. The Wood You Rather race is perfect for those who have raced in the Portland Trail Series and the Stumptown Trail Runs as they will certainly use some of those same trails.
The first decision participants have to make is whether to run it solo or on a team. The race has a team category that allows runners to form teams of at least three and up to six people. Teams can choose to run the race together, getting their checkpoints side-by-side. Or, they can decide to split up and each run to as many checkpoints as they can on their own. The team time is determined by averaging the times of everyone on the team. Finish ranking is based on the most checkpoints acquired in the shortest amount of time. If a team has some members who get fewer checkpoints than others on their team, the lowest number of checkpoints is used.
This style of racing is similar to orienteering and is a part of adventure racing, a sport that both Todd and Renee, the race directors, are experienced in. “I love maps and really like this kind of race where it is as much mental as physical,” say Renee Janssen. “Map reading is an important skill for those who are adventuring out in the woods and we thought this kind of race could be a good way to get people more interested in using maps.”