RICHLAND -- In pitch darkness, save for the beams from their headlamps, two men from western Washington made their way down the side of Badger Mountain early Saturday.
Terry Sentinella of Anacortes and Kevin Douglas of Mount Vernon won the first Badger Mountain Challenge 100-mile endurance run, completing it in 20 hours, 49 minutes, 40 seconds.
Sixteen of 22 entrants finished the race.
Sentinella, 46, was competing in his eighth 100-miler and Douglas, 23, in his third. The men, members of the Skagit Runners club, ran together the entire way.
"The sense of accomplishment is amazing," Sentinella said. "It's hard to believe you just finished this event."
The final runner to finish was Kennewick resident Jason Reathaford, who clocked in at 30:30. He had tried a 100-miler before but did not finish. To prepare for Badger, he did some 50-kilometer runs and a 40-miler.
"The rest is just determination and stupidity," he said.
Sentinella and Douglas entered the Badger Mountain Challenge to practice for events they want to attempt later this year. Sentinella is working to build his endurance for July's Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-miler in California that goes from Death Valley to Mount Whitney. Douglas is training for Cascade Crest, which begins and ends in Easton, in August. He made great strides in the BMC, crushing his previous 100-mile personal best of 26 hours.
Race organizer Brandon Lott cheered on the runners when he spotted them approaching the finish at Trailhead Park. Hot chili made by Lott's wife awaited the runners, who started the race at 7 a.m. Friday at Trailhead and traveled out to Prosser before turning around.
Lott said the area inspired him to start southeastern Washington's first ultramarathon, which benefited Friends of Badger Mountain and also included runs of 15K and 50K.
"I love the distance. I love the area. I train on these hills," Lott said.
Also, "it's kind of cool to open people's eyes to new things."
The Badger Mountain Challenge lived up to its name. Sentinella, Douglas and a pack of fellow runners were sent the wrong way out of the first aid station before regaining their bearings. Reathaford said he got lost three times during the night, once for about an hour. Rain, hail and wind were factors during the race.
And let's not forget the sore feet and legs.
"I should be walking around like a normal person probably Wednesday or Thursday," said Reathaford, who started getting blisters at mile 47.
Still, the trip was worth it for these intrepid runners.
"You learn something from every race you run, long or short," Douglas said.