McDonald Forest
Entry forms

The Dual-Personality Race: a fable

by Peter Fish from Gold Hill, Oregon

Once there were two brothers, Mac and Donald, who owned a medium-sized and very beautiful forest (appropriately named the Mac-Donald forest) situated in the hills near Corvallis, Oregon. Mac and Donald were twins, but even though their mother could scarcely tell them apart, they were as different as night and day, summer and winter, or any other pair of opposites you might think of. Genial, good-natured Mac was a friend to humanity, open-hearted and generous, while his evil twin Donald was sour-faced and misanthropic, suspicious and taking pleasure only in inflicting pain and suffering on his fellow men or women.

One day, a chance visitor to their forest gave an enthusiastic account of the great sport of ultrarunning, and the brothers determined that they would found an event of this kind in their own forest. It happened that one of their mutual friends, named Clem LaCava, was familiar with this sport, and Mac and Donald commissioned him, over dinner in a local restaurant, to design a suitable course on their property.

“But,” said Clem, “in order to qualify as an ultra, a race must be at least 50 kilometers in length, whereas your forest (though beautiful beyond compare) is barely big enough for a 10K.” “No matter,” said Mac, gesturing with his fork. “look at this plate of spaghetti! There must be a hundred yards of it, and yet the plate is only a foot wide! Let that be your model!”

Clem agreed, and the brothers laid down another condition: the course was to be laid out in such a way as to give expression to both their personalities, dissimilar though they were. This, too, was agreed on, and Clem set to work.

Some time later, the course was completed, and Clem found an ingenious solution to the conditions imposed on him. The beginning and ending of the course were created in the spirit of Mac, with smooth, well-surfaced forest roads, rolling trails suitable to golf carts, well-constructed bridges over the streams, staircases on the steeper slopes, and comfortable benches where one could rest while admiring the lush springtime landscape.

Embraced by these sylvan scenes, but in harsh contrast to their welcoming delights, was the portion dedicated to the malevolent Donald. Here, the trails meandered wildly around the mountains, intersecting and interweaving crazily in a manner suggesting the path of a person lost in the woods and wandering in circles for days within a few yards of a highway. Dense forest canopy, cloud cover, and steep terrain prevented the light from reaching the trail, and in a perpetual gloom the runners would labor straight up the side of hills, only to plunge precipitously down chutes of clay moistened by the drizzle to a consistency resembling a playground for otters or seals. The trail up and down the slopes was lined with trees providing handholds for hoisting oneself upward and breaking one’s fall when hurtling down, so as to avoid sliding into the torrential creeks waiting at the bottom of the canyons.

The first test runs ended unhappily, as none of the participants were ever seen again. At the insistence of the kindly Mac, however, directional signs were introduced. When Donald objected that this was coddling the runners. Mac remarked “Think of it as a little bit of heaven in the midst of hell.”

Came at last the long-awaited day of the race. At first the runners were scornful, finding the course too easy for athletes of such legendary toughness, although they also rejoiced at the thought of the PRs they would be setting. But soon the sadistic jungles of Donald muffled their screams, and they were lost to sight for many an hour. In the end, though, once more in the friendly hands of Mac, they felt as though all their struggles had been a dream, as they arrived at the finish line to be welcomed by the Mac-Donald twins, Clem, and his merry friends.

50K Race Directors

Anne Miller and Mike Rosling, co-RDs
McDonald Forest 50K