One year ago I entered the Mt. Baldy Run to the Top for the first time. It was my first all vertical “mountain” race, and I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I have anything to compare it to. But when it was over, it was clear to me that this was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. In the year since that race, I’ve taken on some pretty grueling and unrelenting courses. The Mt. Washington Road Race, the Cranmore Hill Climb, and the Squaw Valley Mtn. Run have all tested my mental and physical limits, and even pushed them to new levels. But after revisiting the Mt. Baldy race, I can say without a doubt, that IT is the toughest, most challenging race I’ve ever done. If an 8 mile race climbing 4,000′ was not enough, consider that the race begins at 6,000′ and ends at 10,064′, where the air is quite thin. Now throw into the mix that the last 3/4 mile of the race is at a 20 to 35% slope, stepping up and over large boulders above tree line. The Mt. Washington Road Race by comparison gets more gentle in it’s grade as the race goes on, and the “wall” at the finish that everyone marvels at is only 20% for 100 meters.
My friend Heidi was kind enough to film some of the event. She took the chairlift from the start to 8,000′ which meets the halfway point of the race and then she hiked the final 4 miles to the finish. She left nearly 2 hours before our projected finish time, and just missed the first racer to cross the finish line. I don’t think she’ll ever volunteer to film one of these again.