: Pristine and uncrowded Horsfall Beach

5 Ways to Take a Run-cation On the Coast

Run in the footsteps of one of track’s greatest legends on Oregon’s Adventure Coast.
Oregon's Adventure Coast,  Photographer
March 11, 2024

As the hometown of the iconic distance runner Steve “Pre” Prefontaine, Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston boasts a rich running tradition that continues to draw fans from around the world. That storied history, a breathtaking landscape and a thriving running community make Coos Bay a great place for a running getaway steeped in track heritage. Here’s how to lace up your shoes and explore the community where a legend was born.

runners pass by huge murals of Steve Prefontaine
Wednesday group run

1. Follow in the Footsteps of a Legend

Pre began his running career at Marshfield High School when he joined the cross-country team his freshman year. He went on to compete as a powerhouse runner for the University of Oregon. Renowned for his tenacity, Pre left an indelible mark on the track and field scene before his tragic death at 24 in 1975. His legacy echoes through the running culture that thrives in Coos Bay today.

Dedicated Pre fans can follow his footsteps — literally. His sister, Linda Prefontaine, runs the Tour de Pre, a full-day private guided excursion that takes visitors on a tour of the Coos Bay area, with a focus on her brother’s life and history. Visitors can do a workout on the Marshfield High School track where Pre got his start, pay a visit to the cemetery, and do hill repeats on the sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area where Prefontaine famously trained.

The itinerary also includes a visit to the Prefontaine Gallery in the Coos Art Museum, which showcases photographs, medals, trophies and other memorabilia Prefontaine earned throughout his short but notable career. 


2. Join the Local Running Club

If your visit doesn’t coincide with a race — or you’re just not feeling competitive — join the South Coast Running Club for a Wednesday night group run. The club was founded in 1972 and embodies Coos Bay’s spirit of camaraderie and inclusivity. 

The group meets at least one night and one morning a week (check the club page for the latest details and meeting locations). All paces are welcome. After the evening run, get to know all of your new friends over a pint and dinner at 7 Devils Brewing. Or bring your coffee cup for a post-run coffee at Dutch Bros. after the morning run.

Arial shot of large crowd of people running a race
Prefontaine Memorial 10K

3. Run a Race

Experience the warmth of the community at one of the many local races hosted by the running club or the Steve Prefontaine Foundation. These low-cost, no-frills events prioritize the joy of running together, and many serve as fundraisers for the running club.

“We truly try to keep that local, grassroots, simple, fun family event at the core of everything we do because we want all levels to feel like they can participate,” says running club president and head cross-country coach for North Bend High School Amarissa Wooden.

Of course there’s a race to honor Pre. The Prefontaine Memorial 10K is a challenging course hosted by the Steve Prefontaine Foundation that follows one of Pre’s old training routes, finishing at the Marshfield High School track, where he first competed. Held in September, the race generally sees beautiful weather.

Trail runners will enjoy Run Whiskey Run, a fall race consisting of a 1.5-, 5-, or 10-mile course on the region’s Whiskey Run mountain biking trail system. The trails are closed to bikes during the race so participants can enjoy the smooth single-track without worrying about getting in anybody’s way.

Smiling runner on bridge with race bib on.
Circle the Bay 30K

4. Plan a Group Trip with your Relay Team

In April the Roseburg to Coos Bay Relay gives participants the chance to run or walk through history along the Old Wagon Road. The race starts in Roseburg and follows the Old Wagon Road to Coos Bay, following the route Horace Brewster, an early settler, took in 1895 — a combination of primitive roads and Native American trails that became the first land connection between the Umpqua Region and Coos Bay.

Runners can form teams of up to five people to cover 68 miles, or teams of up to four walkers can opt for a 24-mile course that starts at West LaVerne Park. The truly hardcore can run the race solo but may want to recruit a crew team because the race is unsupported. Registration includes dinner and beer from 7 Devils Brewing, and proceeds go to Camp Millennium, which provides summer camp to children with cancer. 

Circle the Bay 30K is another race runners can run as a relay or on their own. The August race circumnavigates Coos Bay, including a crossing of the mile-long Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge. The inaugural race started in the mid-1970s and was the longest “non-marathon” in the state of Oregon at the time. The race serves as a fundraiser for the North Bend cross-country high school team and ends with a post-race barbecue.

Runners on course during trail run
Run Whiskey Run trail race

5. Stretch your Legs with a Solo Run

Inspired by the Prefontaine murals in downtown Coos Bay, but prefer to run on your own? Head to the sand dunes near Horsfall Beach, where Pre and his high school teammates tested their mental toughness and endurance. 

For spectacular views and wildlife viewing, check out the Sunset Bay trails system or Cape Arago Highway from Sunset Bay State Park to Cape Arago State Park. For all your running needs, whether that’s gear or questions about where to run, stop into Wild Coast Running Co., which just so happens to be owned and managed by the local high school coach, Wooden.


If You Go

Book a hotel room at the Mill Casino on the waterfront between North Bend and Coos Bay to take a well-deserved soak in the indoor pool and hot tub after a long run. Many guest rooms have bay views, and some are also pet-friendly. Each of the five rooms at the Itty Bitty Inn in North Bend have a different playful theme, from Star Trek to the Oregon Trail. Or stay at Bay Point Landing between North Bend and Charleston, which offers modern Scandinavian-style cabins, kitted-out Airstream trailers, and RV parking plus a heated saltwater pool and easy beach access.

About The

Jen Sotolongo
Jen Sotolongo is a freelance writer who owns and writes for the popular adventure dog blog Long Haul Trekkers. She lives in Bend with her rescued cattle dog mix, Sitka. You can usually find them trail running, hiking or camping in the mountains. You can follow Jen on Instagram @longhaultrekkers.

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