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Taking The Mountain in Stride

By Patti Jo Brooks

Taking The Mountain in Stride

The race is on! The Huckleberry Running Festival is happening again this year in Welches. Run among the fir trees through the Mount Hood National Forest with your friends, neighbors and even some out-of-staters. Drawing from a wide geographic area, last year’s group of approximately 400 runners, though primarily from the local area, also included runners from all across Oregon and about twenty other states. “I don’t know if we’ve officially gone international or not – we’re waiting for our first Canadian runner,” shares Mike Oslund, one of the race’s owners.
What sets this run apart from others is that it’s such a great location. “People really enjoy it up here,” Oslund points out. The Huckleberry Running Festival, also known as the Huckleberry Half, has changed hands a few times over the years. According to Olsund, it was founded around 2012 by Breanna Skinner, a local resident who put on the run for her friends in Welches. Several years later it was acquired by Brady and Annie Mordhorst who ran it for a few more years.
Oslund became aware of the Huckleberry Running Festival when Annie Mordhorst, the current owner at the time, and his co-worker as well, asked if he could volunteer for the run. Oslund remembers reflecting on the race, thinking, “Man, this is a great little race. Fun time. Great scenery. Fantastic.” He rang Annie up the following year to get details on the next race, but as it happened, she wasn’t going to continue the event.
Wanting to help keep the run going, Oslund made a few phone calls to his friends who he’d been in business with prior and together they decided to acquire the race. They thought it was a “neat little run” and it would be a shame to lose it. “It’s great for the community,” they agreed. Although the Huckleberry Running Festival was acquired by the group in 2022, unfortunately they were not able to hold it that summer. The 2023 run was a huge success, however, and has everyone looking ahead to Race Day 2024, Saturday, August 3.
A special highlight is the 1K Kids Sprint which starts at 10 a.m. behind the other races. Doug Fur, Portland Trail Blazers mascot, came up last year to lead the race for the young athletes (ages twelve and under). It was such a hit that he’s scheduled to do the same again this year. “Hopefully, we’re starting a new tradition with him,” says Oslund. “The kids’ race is just a lot of fun.”
Cheribundi, a natural tart cherry juice rich in antioxidants, will be one of the Huckleberry Running Festival’s major sponsors this year. “It’s a great sports recovery drink with great health benefits – a good fit for what we’re doing up there,” Oslund comments. Mt. Hood Coffee Roasters and Al Forno Ferruzza Pizza will be among the local sponsors this year. “In terms of getting people involved and getting sponsorships up there, we want to make this event a little bit better and more enjoyable and keep it tied to the community,” Oslund explains. “We’d like to get as many of the local folk involved who want to be involved,” he relates.
Volunteer help last year and again this year comes by way of Sandy High School cross country athletes led by Head Coach Dalen Kansala. “They were fantastic,” Oslund says. “Boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, parents and coaches come up and volunteer. We’re really grateful to them for their participation,” he adds enthusiastically. “And we’re so grateful to the Welches PTCO for their participation as well,” he further acknowledges.
Early registration and start times for the various Huckleberry Running Festival races – Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K Kids Sprint are available on the website: huckleberryrunfestival.com. Advanced registration is preferred, “We love for people to sign up, the earlier the better,” says Oslund, though, if needing to sign up in person, “we’ll let people sign up the morning of the race.” However, the earlier the signup, the better chance there is for a lower entrance fee.
The races start and finish at Welches Middle School, 24903 E Salmon River Rd, Welches OR. Aid Stations are set up along the route and noted on the course map posted on the website. The Fire Station will be equipped with additional staff, and traffic flow will be limited to one lane only until 11:00 a.m., after which time it will resume the normal two-lane flow.
If you are interested in participating in the event, volunteering, setting up a tent or being a tent sponsor, call Mike Oslund at (503)805-4332 or email info@huckleberryhalfmarathon.com. For more information, visit the Huckleberry Running Festival website: huckleberryrunfestival.com.

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