A popular Central Oregon race is adding a new twist this year.

The Aug. 18 Monkey Face Half Marathon will have its feature event, a half marathon that takes runners twice around the trail system at Smith Rock State Park, according to a new release. The fifth annual event also features a half-marathon relay for two-person teams, as well as a four-mile run/walk.

“It is an international destination for runners, hikers and climbers because of its majestic views and landscape,” said Piper Ruiz of Eugene-based Pink Buffalo Racing. “Smith Rock’s unique rock formation, terrain and trail system set it apart as a desirable place to host a trail race.

This year organizers are adding a 7-mile race for the first time. Runners in the 7-mile race, like each team member in the relays, will complete a single loop of the trail system.

“The 7-mile race is a close configuration of one loop of the half-marathon course, therefore it is a perfect fit for the event,” Ruiz said. “One loop is very challenging for most trail runners and we want to offer an option for people who want to run one loop.”

Ruiz is expecting 200 runners to take part in the race, up from 93 in 2017.

Runners in the half marathon, which kicks off the events at 7 a.m., will see an elevation gain of 2,185 feet during the race. The individual half marathon and half-marathon relays each have a four-hour time limit. The half marathon includes seven aid stations along the course. The relay is broken into divisions for men, women and co-ed, with combined ages of under 40, 41-80, 81-120 and 121 and up.

Even the shorter four mile race features 647 feet of elevation gain in a half-mile stretch. The race crests near the iconic Monkey Face formation before descending on the Mesa Verde Trail to the River Trail.

Each finisher in the marathon, half-marathon relay and 7-mile races will get a medallion, while the top three women and men in each age group in the half marathon, 7 mile and 4 mile will get a separate medallion. The top team in each relay division also receives awards.

Registration through Aug. 17 is $55 for the half marathon, $35 for the relay, $30 for the 7 mile and $25 for the four mile. All the fee go up by $5 on race day. Participants 17 and under and 60 and over receive a $5 discount. For more information, visit pinkbuffaloracing.com.

The Monkey Face races are one of nine put on each year by Pink Buffalo Racing. The races, which Ruiz started in 2012, offer people a chance to see scenic beauty while running. According to Spokesman archives, the company name was inspired by Ruiz’s love for buffalo in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com