Photo at lower right by Peter Campbell-Thompson
Youth Runner Magazine has annually held in Oregon some of the most outstanding and scenic summer distance running camps for middle- and high-school student-athletes in the country. Now, with their first camp of the season set immediately following the NSAF’s Nike Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, June 16-19, there’s a great opportunity to compete at Nike Outdoor Nationals and then stay over for an unforgettable week of training and relaxing recreation afterward.
The McKenzie River Camp, open to all student-athletes ages 11-18, starts Monday, June 20 and runs through Friday, June 24. It will be held at the McKenzie River Resort in Blue River, Ore., just an hour east of Hayward Field.
“We’re excited that we can provide this opportunity for distance runners and their families attending Nike Outdoor Nationals, whether they are local and area student-athletes or those visiting from out of state” said Youth Runner founder Dan Kesterson. “This will be an incredible week to get refreshed from the track season in the mountain air, take a whitewater rafting trip on the McKenzie River, and get charged up and refocused.”
This is a new venue for Youth Runner Camps, nestled at the edge of the Cascade Mountain range and the Willamette National Forest. “This is an amazing location with the McKenzie River famous for fly fishing and whitewater rafting, with the backdrop of the rugged mountains,” said Kesterson.
Then on the east side of the camp is Tokatee Golf Club, renowned as one of the best in the country. On the west side is the Blue River track with its own story to tell. Both are part of the Oregon distance running legacy.
“The PAC-8 XC Championships were held at Tokatee when Steve Prefontaine and Pat Tyson were part of the Oregon Team,” said Kesterson. “The Blue River Track was dropped in the middle of this mountain community and hosted an international meet last June on the break day during the Olympic Trials. So you can still absorb the vibe if you didn't get enough at Hayward Field.”
Guests and coaches at Youth Runner Camps have included Bob Williams and Peter Thompson; movement specialist and physical therapist Matt Walsh; Rebecca McConville, nutrition expert and author of Finding Your Sweet Spot; and legendary Coach Pat Tyson, the distance coach at Gonzaga University who coached the legendary Mead HS teams in previous decades and was Steve Prefontaine’s roommate at the University of Oregon.
Elite athletes who have spoken at past camps include Katelyn Tuohy, Nick Symmonds, Ella Donaghu, Andrew Wheating, Elijah Greer, Ian Dobson, Brandon Pollard, Marie Davis & Robin McGillis and Melody Fairchild.
Kesterson has worked to make the camp as accessible as possible to athletes wishing to participate immediately following Nike Outdoor Nationals. There is an option for athletes to arrive Sunday afternoon prior to the start of the camp. And camp officials are working on some shuttles to get athletes who have traveled out alone up to camp and back to the airport if needed.
The camp features plenty of amazing trail runs, world-class instruction, an optional whitewater trip in the middle, and a friendly XC race on the last day. All of the details about the daily camp schedule, the camp staff, amenities, fees and more are at the above-linked web pages.
Two more Youth Runner camps will be held later in the summer, each with their own special attraction:
- The Eugene World Champs Camp, July 16-19: This is a day camp in Eugene for middle- and high-school athletes, taking place during the historic World Championships at Hayward Field. The camp includes tickets to two morning sessions of the meet, as well as watching the World Champs marathon on the streets of Eugene and opportunities to meet elite athletes. It will feature training runs around campus, up to Hendricks Park, Amazon Trail, and Pre’s Trail. A similar, very successful camp was held during the Olympic Trials last year here. DETAILS
- The Middle School Elite Camp, July 31-August 5: This is a special camp designed for Middle School distance runners only (ages 11-14). Held at Camp Arrah Wanna in Mt. Hood Village, it has been called the best middle-school-only running camp in the country. It’s a unique mix of age-appropriate training, and learning and recreation opportunities, all set near the base of the iconic Mt. Hood. A limited number of scholarships are available, thanks to a generous grant from Willamette Valley TC. DETAILS