Robbie Donohue did not win the 40th Bigfoot 10K in Bend on Sunday, but as he crossed the finish line near Les Schwab Amphitheater in fourth place he still pumped his fist in celebration.
“This is my first race in 550 days,” Donohue, 26 and of Bend, explained after the race, which he completed in 35 minutes, 48.4 seconds. “I had a back injury, I crushed a disk. And so it was pretty emotional to be out here again. It’s been a while, and I was pretty pumped.”
The downhill Bigfoot 10K, which starts at Seventh Mountain Resort in southwest Bend and follows Century Drive to the Old Mill District, is billed as the oldest and fastest 10K race in Bend by its organizers with the Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK). While that was not technically the case this year — Bend’s fastest 10K race of 2017 was the USATF Cross-Country National Championships at River’s Edge Golf Course in February — Max King, 37 and of Bend, ran against the clock and won the road race in 31:21. Donohue, who said he returned to training only three weeks ago, said he knew not to chase King, an elite distance runner, out of the gate.
“Max tried to bait me a little bit,” Donohue said. “I’ve known Max for 12 years now, and he tried to bait me to go out with him, and I knew better than that. His first mile, I heard, was five (minutes) flat. I knew sticking right around 5:40s was where I needed to stay. I stayed anywhere between 5:45 and 5:48 for my 6 miles, and so it was a good day.”
Lindsey Hagen, 33 and of Bend, was the women’s winner in 38:03.0.
“This is the shortest run that I’ve done in a while, so it was more about seeing how fast I could go,” said Hagen, an ultrarunner who completed the Leadville Trail 100-mile run in Colorado in August. “I felt like I had to keep telling myself, it’s only 6 miles, go faster.”
Ellen Kramer, who finished sixth on the women’s side, and men’s runner-up Matt Palilla agreed that they did not feel as if he were flying down the course, even if the time on the watch suggested they were.
“They say it’s downhill, but it doesn’t feel downhill. I wish it felt more downhill,” said Palilla, 35 and of Bend, who ran the race in 33:40.3. “I just used it as a nice, fast run. I’m running a marathon in December, and Max and I went out and did a long run before the race, so it was good to get out and get some good miles in.”
Jeremiah McGregor, 30 and of Bend, won the Dirtyfoot 10K, the parallel trail race, in 41:24.8, and Meg Lane, 22 and of Bend, was the women’s trail winner in 41:40.2.
“It’s a really fast course — even though it’s on a trail, the grading is perfect and mellow, so you feel like you’re cruising,” Lane said of the Dirtyfoot course, much of which followed the Deschutes River Trail. “I just really like trail running. There’s a little more variety, it’s a little more interesting, so I have fun running on trails.”
Forty-two runners completed the Dirtyfoot trail race and 64 finished the Bigfoot, down from the 157 who ran the 5K and two 10K races offered in 2016. The decrease in turnout could be due to the fact that the race was originally planned for September and postponed due to poor air quality caused by wildfires. But many of the runners on hand, including Lane, Palilla, Hagen and Donohue, said they had not signed up for the race the first time around and were able to enter only after the 10Ks were moved to October.
“I’m actually glad it got rescheduled, it turned out to be a beautiful day,” Lane said.
But Kramer — who planned to run the race all along — said she enjoys running the Bigfoot, especially as the proceeds help fund cross-country programs at the Bend-La Pine high schools.
“I think some people are intimidated by road races, or the flight of stairs that you have to climb (in the trail race),” said Kramer, 42 and of Bend. “And we have so many ultra athletes in this town that running a 10K is not the first choice for everybody, they’re going for the half marathons and 50Ks. But I like the short races, so I think it’s a great event.”
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