Racing for Thrills on the Central Oregon Coast

By Gretchen Ammerman | Monday, May 27, 2019

On June 8, I’ll be lining up for the Oregon Dunes Triathlon, a fun and scenic multi-sport race that ends at the top one of Florence's nearby impressive sand dunes. Taking place at Honeyman State Park where you can camp the night before the race, this particularly scenic event includes lake swimming and trail running and is Oregon's only triathlon on its central coast. 

The first triathlon I ever raced in Oregon is where I learned essential skills, like the fact that a five-millimeter surfing wetsuit from the 90s is almost impossible to take off quickly and toe socks take an embarrassingly long time put on when your feet are wet. And to wonder about scrambling up a tall dune after swimming, biking and running? It's stupid hard but the fun is more than rewarding. If this sounds like an experience you need to try, join me next weekend. Registration for the triathlon and duathlon (just biking and running) is open until June 5.

Triathlons not your idea of fun? There are plenty of other ways to raise your heart rate at running events on the coast in June and July, from walks, kids' runs and team relays to half and full marathons. 

Newport Marathon and Half MarathonSaturday, June 1

If your fitness level is dialed and you're looking for a flat and fast race, spaces are still open for this popular Boston qualifier in Newport – a unique opportunity since it's usually sold out this close to race day. The course includes historic Nye Beach, the Yaquina Bridge, the Bayfront and the Yaquina River. Free raw oysters given out along the course, blown-glass medals and other features make it an Oregon coast original and a bucket-list race for runners around the world. An early start for walkers is available.

The Newport Marathon provides pace groups, who practice rain or shine to be ready for race day.

Newport Celebration Run, Thursday, July 4

With a kids' fun run, 5K run/walk, 10K run and a half marathon, this is truly an event for all the fit families out there. Starting and ending close to the Rogue Ales Brewery, which provides adult beverages for race finishers ages 21 and older, runners also get a rare opportunity to run on NOAA's 1,300-foot long pier. For those who like the variation of dirt and pavement, the half marathon course includes over 5 miles of trails.

The NOAA research vessel provides a great backdrop for race day photos.

Barrel to Keg Relay, Saturday, July 13

If the last race leaves you thirsting for another chance to finish your race with a frosty mug of Rogue ale, this 69-mile race can be run solo or with a team, beginning at the Harris Bridge Vineyard west of Philomath and finishing at Rogue Ales Brewery. The route includes rolling back roads, with a significant amount of gravel, through the Oregon Coast Range. Teams of two to seven people can run the whole distance, or they can choose to walk a 35-mile course, which skips the relay's middle section. If you'd like to give it a try but don't have teammates, you can reach out to the organizers via the website, and they will help you find a team. Prizes are awarded for best costumes, best-dressed vehicle and fastest finishers. 

The Yaquina Bridge provides a recognizable backdrop for most events held on the central coast.

Even if you're one of those people who runs only if you're being chased, it's still fun to spectate at events, and believe me, the energy of people cheering can make a world of difference when you feel like your legs are about to fall off and you have no idea how you are going to make it to the finish.

Got a great race story? Please comment below; we'd love to hear it. For other things to do in the central coast's charming towns once you've slowed down or for places to eat when you've worked up an appetite, be sure to check out our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment our Nightlife page guides you to the best places to be.

About the Author Gretchen Ammerman
Gretchen Ammerman received an Environmental Science degree from Humboldt State University and was soon running a state environmental agency in Hawaii. She gave it up for the glamorous life of the freelance writer. This led to steady employment as a newspaper editor in Lincoln City, OR, where she knew she was doing well when the paper was threatened with a lawsuit within a week. Though the work was rewarding, she returned to freelance writing to have more freedom to explore the beautiful state of Oregon with her adopted dog, Scout.