I’m happy to report that I made my goal with a time of 2:57:32, not quite five minutes faster.
View of Mt. Ashland from the city
My running of the race was not much different from last 2010.
I ran – no walking - from the start at Lithia Plaza until the third aid station at Bull Gap, about 9 miles into the race. This is entirely uphill and in some places very steep until approximately 8 miles, but from there to Bull Gap is the only level or at times slight downhill part of the course. This year I really poured on the speed here to put some money in the bank, knowing I’d need to withdraw it later.
From Bull Gap to the Ski Lodge the road becomes single track and more difficult to negotiate. I powerwalked twice – once early on and again nearer the end when I felt that fatigue made me clumsy on the steep rutted surface, and powerwalking would be smoother, more comfortable, and nearly as fast as slow-motion running.
Looking back to whence we came:
viewing the valley where Ashland is from the Ski Lodge
After the first few semi-level steps one takes upon leaving the aid station. I reverted to walking the steep single track trail to the start of the even steeper scree. From there it seemed like two steps forward, one step back, rest, and then repeat until I finally made the finish line at the summit.
I can’t say this was any easier for me than last year because it wasn’t.
Looking back toward the Ski Lodge and to where
runners emerge from the forest.
From soon after the start as far as the Bull Gap aid station I ran at times with, ahead of, or behind Kathy Morell of Ketchum, Idaho. (Chico readers will note that she told me she has a niece working at the Hotel Diamond.) Due to my speed-up on the level-and-downhill portion prior to Bull Gap, I finished there before she did, but that would not be how things ended up. She made a quick stop at the aid station, took off running a few seconds before I did, and soon I stopped seeing her in the distance. She smoked the rest of the race, finishing nearly 13 minutes ahead of me (2:44:43). Kathy is 50, and won the women’s 50-59 division!
Just a few minutes before the race start, I looked to my right and who should be there but Jen Briggs, a recent former resident of Chico who now lives with her family in Eugene, Ore. What a surprise! I had no idea that anyone I knew would be there. As it was, she, her sister Lori, and brother-in-law John from Colorado were running it, too. They all did very well, and less than two weeks from now are running in the Pike’s Peak Ascent which has an even greater elevation gain than the Hill Climb, plus it starts at about the same elevation where Mt. Ashland ends.
|Ski Lodge aid station - the final push to the summit in background|
If you are interested in running the Hill Climb, note that the field is limited to 300 runners, and this year it sold out within two weeks of the start of registration. To go on a list to be notified when registration opens up in the spring, click here.
Total # of finishers: 192
# of male finishers: 107
# of female finishers: 85
Men’s winning time: 1:51:54 (Erik Skaggs, 29, Ashland)
Women’s winning time: 2:11:40 (Stephanie Howe, 27, Bend, Ore.)
# male finishers 50-59: 16
My divisional place: 5
Fastest male 50-59: 2:20:39