Runners in the 2014 Badger Mountain Challenge battled 50 mph winds and rain atop the 1,543-foot hill.
And they are coming back for more this year — 100 miles more to be exact.
“It was rough, we had some pretty tough weather,” said Shane Hill, 39, of Kennewick.
“At one point it was actually like a tsunami, sideways sleet,” Hill said. “I’m actually looking forward to this year because it’s supposed to be a lot nicer.”
More than 600 people have signed up for the fifth Badger Mountain Challenge, which starts at 7 a.m. Friday with 50- and 100-mile endurance races.
Hill is one of 67 people planning to run the full 100 miles. In 2014, his first 100-mile race, he ran through the night to finish in just under 31 hours.
The key to finishing is simple, he said — don’t give up.
“It was actually kind of a personal trial to see if I could do it, and I did it,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”
Hill later ran a 100-mile race in May in Renton, where he cut his time to just over 23 hours.
The 100-mile race is one of 110 such events in the country, and the only one in Eastern Washington, said race director Jason Reathaford. Some competitors try to complete it as part of the “Washington Slam,” where they run in all five 100-mile races in the state.
But Badger Mountain poses a different challenge than the wooded runs west of the Cascades.
“It’s very rocky,” Reathaford said. “Some years it’s very dusty, windy conditions.”
Runners are coming from California, Canada and as far away as Pennsylvania for the Badger Mountain Challenge, Reathaford said.
“There are not a lot of them, so people will travel to go to different races,” he said.
The 50-mile course, which is completed twice in the 100-mile race, starts and finishes at Badger Mountain Trailhead Park near the top of Queensgate Drive. Runners head out toward Candy and Red mountains before going south toward Benton City and McBee Ridge. They then go west toward Chandler Butte near Prosser, where they turn around and go back to the Tri-Cities.
The race is all off-road, and runners are advised to not walk in front of traffic when crossing roads, Reathaford said. Shorter 50-and 15-kilometer races will take place Saturday morning.
People are welcome to hike on Badger Mountain during the races, and can even sign up Saturday morning for the 15K race, though they won’t get the same “goodies” as those who registered before the deadline, Reathaford said.
Gabe Wishnie of Redmond, who finished second at Badger Mountain in 2014 at 19 hours, 43 minutes, is the top returning competitor and the odds-on favorite this year, Reathaford said.
But others will just be looking to complete the race for the first time. The race will be the 97th marathon or longer for Hope Fox, 41, of West Richland, but she wasn’t able to finish Badger Mountain last year.
She started the race running too fast in 2014, and dropped off after the halfway mark. But, this time, she said she is ready.
“I actually love it,” she said. “It’s a lot of perseverance and a lot of determination, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Net proceeds from the event will go toward the Friends of Badger Mountain, the Washington Trails Association and Team in Training, which raises money to fight leukemia and lymphoma.