Plain 100 Endurance Race was created out of the love of the eastern Washington trails near the town of Plain. The Race Directors Tom Ripley and Christina Ralph had years of ultra- running experience as both participants and race directors. They took everything they had learned from other adventure type endurance races like Marathon Des Sables, Iditasport, Yukon Artic Ultra and created a graduate level race for the experienced trail runner or wilderness adventure type. Tom Ripley had been running the trails in the Plain area for many years and knew which trails would support the mission of a real challenge and to keep people safe.
The first year for Plain 100 was 1997 and six runners showed up to try their hand at a 100 trail race with no aid, no trail markings, no water stops, no pacers, no stashing but great maps and directions that runners would use to complete the course. A huge snow storm ended the race early when no one could find the trails above 6500 feet.
The first runners to finish Plain were Tim Stroh (current co-race director) and Randy Gerke in 1998. Several years later Liz McGroff crossed the finish line as the first woman finisher in 2002.
In the early years the finishing rate was very low because if the difficulty of the course. Over the years participants learned various techniques such as; pre-running the course so navigation was not a problem on race day, learning where the water was located, following the race map details, understanding the race directions and running with a partner to share responsibilities.
Today the finishing rate is close to that of all the hard 100-mile trail races in the US. The race course has never changed. In 2014, a 100k race was added consisting of just the first loop of the Plain 100 mile race. Anyone who runs Plain can challenge themselves against the same course that runners have been running since 1997.
Wildfires have occasionally been an issue in the area and the races had to be cancelled in 2003 and 2015. In 2013 the storm that sparked the Wenatchee Complex fire passed through during the event and impacted part of the course that had already been run. The search and rescue staff worked with Rivercom911 to monitor the situation and runners were allowed to shelter at checkpoints but the races continued. In 2014, wildfires near Entiat closed access to part of the course and the first loop was modified slightly which eliminated the Tommy and Tyee checkpoints with another checkpoint added at Whistling Pig Meadow staffed by Race Directors Tom and Chris, since it was only accessible by foot.
The original race start/finish location was the Thousand Trails Lodge. In 2011, the start/finish was changed to Deep Creek which required adding a loop to Thousand Trails and back to insure the course length remained the same. Runners still cover the same ground and the end times are comparable but the distance to each checkpoint is a little longer than prior to 2011.
Tom Ripley and Christina Ralph decided to retire as race directors in 2015 and passed the directorship to Tim Stroh and Tim Dehnhoff. Tim Stroh is a long-time participant in the race with the first and most finishes of any runner. Tim Dehnhoff is also a former ultra runner and has been the support team commander since 2002.
By 2016, Tom had finished 125 ultras and 36 marathons for a total of 63,174 miles run since 1981. He has competed in such events as the Iditasport and Marathon des Sables. His finishes also include the Capitol City Marathon in 3hr 3min and Yakima River Canyon Marathon three times, while pulling a car tire.
In the early 1980’s Tom was involved in youth sports along with running. As fund raisers, Tom and his wife would host 5k and 10k runs to fund various programs for the teams. This gave Tom an understanding how to best run an event and accomplish the stated goals of all involved.
Forward ahead to early 1990’s when Tom teamed up with Christina Ralph as both a running partner and a co-race director. Tom’s wife, Linda became the aid station organizer for all of Cascade Running Club events. Chris was already putting on races like Herzog 50K and White River 50 Miler. The trio split up the duties for those two races and continued to look for other opportunities. From 1990 to 2015, Cascade Running Club has hosted at least one and usually several ultra-running events each year including:
Tom and Chris created events and operated them until they were self-sustaining. Plain 100 was operated by the Cascade Running Club for the longest time period of time of any race they started and in 2015 it was entrusted to Tim Stroh and Tim Dehnhoff to carry Plain 100 into the future.
In 1990 a group of ultra runners met at Tiger Mt every weekend. Sometimes our buddies from Lake Stevens joined us and always asked us to come run their home turf. Ike Hessler & Ron Herzog had a 50k course in place. This was my first invitation to direct a race. It was the first 50k trail run in Washington state. I called it the GRANITE FALLS 50k. After a couple years Ron found out he had ALS and a little while later I renamed the race to the Ron Herzog Memorial 50k.
In 1991 I met Greg Jacobson and he asked for help putting together a 50 mile trail run near Crystal Mountain. I volunteered to help him. In 1992 I got a dozen friends to preview the first half of the course. Before I sunk time and money into this event I wanted to know what my friends thought. It was a success everyone loved it. On Aug 1, 1993 The White River 50 Mile trail run was born. Tom & Linda Ripley volunteered to work an aid station. Little did we know this was the start of a 20+ year race directing & running relationship. I took my job as race director very seriously so The Cascade Running Club (CRC) was formed. I could now get USATF insurance! My husband built a website and we were off to the races literally. Any proceeds from our races initially were given to SAR, the search and rescue team formed by DAVE SMITH. I originally met Dave at White River 50. He became an integral part of CRC. WR50 originally used the Boy Scout camp near Crystal Mt as the headquarters. STEVE DAZEY was in charge of the camp and allowed us to rent bunks before the race. Steve also became a part of CRC. Linda Ripley is a master shopper and group cook. She eventually planned, shopped and prepared all the food for CRC races. She was lovingly named FOOD FRAU.
While running in Bridle Trails one day, Tom had an idea for a race in the park. It took a year for me to be comfortable with the idea of a race that started in the evening and ran until midnight. The birth of the BRIDLE TRAILS TWILIGHT 50k. White River was wearing me out so we gave it to Scott McCoubrey. Then Tom said let's put on a race in the REDMOND WATERSHED PARK. Again about a year later we had an event, the WATERSHED PRESERVE 12 Hour trail run. We were overworked with our day jobs and race director jobs so we gave HERZOG away. Then Tom announced PLAIN 100 to me. This was the first 100 mile trail run in Washington. So we gave away Bridle Trails and focused on Watershed and Plain. In 2014 I lost my husband and my father. I had a lot to do so we gave away Watershed. I took a new job. We decided to ask Tim Stroh (one of two initial finishers of Plain 100) if he would take over Plain.
I started running at age 36. I just wanted to run 1 marathon. But I saw a special on tv about WS100 and decided I wanted to tell people I ran to Bellingham. I started running everything in driving distance. Mike Sharkey became my first running partner. When I anointed myself as race director, Mike and his son, Dameon, were drafted as volunteers. The Watershed Preserve proceeds went to the Sparrow Fund in which Dameon Sharkey was instrumental in starting at age 10. Dameon died at age 21. My first year running I finished 6 marathons and 42 races of lesser distance. I joined the 50 states club with 15 states, 20 were required but I promised to do them all that year. 1990 was the year of the GOODWILL GAMES Marathons. I ran LA, Boston, spent 9 days in hospital (I have MS; this was my second MAJOR attack). I started Goodwill Games with Mike and Barb Sharkey following me in a car. I made it to Coleman Dock. I recovered and finished the year with Portland, Chicago, New York and Seattle.
I started running ultras in 1991. In 1996 I went to marine corps marathon. I had just returned from Arkansas Traveler 100 where I took 2nd place woman. I knew I had a problem. I could not get a doctor appointment so I left for DC. By the start of the marathon both legs were numb. I did 4:07 on a beautiful day. When I got home I saw my doctor and got steroids. I probably cram to much into my life. But I love it all.
Tim Dehnhoff has been a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and avid hiker, climber, cyclist and competed in triathlons. As a runner, Tim has completed distances from 5k to 100 miles in events such as the Emerald City Marathon (x3), Seattle Marathon (x2), Capital City Marathon (x2) (2:42.54), Portland Marathon (x2), Tacoma Marathon, Cleum Ridge Run 50K, Winterhawk 50M (x2), Badger Mountain Bean Run 100K and Leadville Trail 100.
It started in 1980 when a friend entered a 10K at Seward Park; The Autumn Classic. He called Tim out of the blue one day and said "Hey I entered a race scheduled for next weekend and I have to work, do you want to run it, I'll give you the T-shirt!". Tim said, "Well I'm in decent shape but haven't run a step. Do you think I can finish and how long would it take?" He said, "You should be able to finish in 45 min or so." Tim finished in 36 min. He said, "Tim, you need to start training, you have a gift." The running bug blossomed from there into progressively faster times and longer distances.
Tim Joined Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue in 1996 and is still involved as the Operations Support Unit President leading a team of dedicated volunteers on SAR missions. Tim joined the Plain 100 race support team in 2000 and in 2002 became Support Team Commander. In 2016, Tim was offered the opportunity to become Co-Race Director on the Plain 100 Endurance Runs and continue the tradition of the races.