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They come from around the globe, just to run 100 miles near the Tri-Cities

A line of competitors tackle the stair steps in the early stages of the 15-kilometer race of the Badger Mountain Challenge. The popular event offers 15K, 50K, 50-mile and 100-mile trail races on the high open ridges of Southeastern Washington.
A line of competitors tackle the stair steps in the early stages of the 15-kilometer race of the Badger Mountain Challenge. The popular event offers 15K, 50K, 50-mile and 100-mile trail races on the high open ridges of Southeastern Washington. Courtesy photo

An epic mountain trail running event is enticing hundreds of the top athletes and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the region, the U.S. and Canada, and as far away as Ecuador, to come to the Tri-Cities on March 30 and 31 to participate in the one of the most challenging and grueling foot races in the world.

The Badger Mountain Challenge, a two-day event hosted by the Nomad Trail Runners of Eastern Washington, is on track to see over 750 entrants this year.

“Interest in the event is at an all-time high,” said event organizer Jason Reathaford. “We have over 105 entrants signed up for the 50-miler compared to 75 last year. The 100-mile race has 100 entrants in it so far, compared to 78 people last year. We are expecting 75 people in the 50K race and around 425 starters in the 15K race.”

Each event will begin and end at Badger Mountain’s Trailhead Park and traverse nearby ridges.

The 50- and 100-mile course includes footpaths, multi-use trails, rocky jeep trails, dirt roads and short stretches of pavement on and around Badger and Candy mountains and McBee Hill. The 100-mile course is a double out-and-back route, while the 50-miler is just one circuit. The 50K runs the same course but turns around earlier.

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A pair of competitors hike up McBee Hill near Benton City. The Badger Mountain Challenge 50- and 100-mile races hit McBee as well as Badger and Candy mountains. Tri-City Herald file

Runners will face rough roads, single-track trails, and some steep, challenging climbs. There are a few short paved sections, and good aid station and crew access. The entire 100-mile course has approximately 15 total miles of pavement, but the rest is on dirt or rock. There are several steep 800- to 1,000-foot climbs, with elevations ranging from 500 to 2,000 feet.

“We have runners from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Oklahoma, Ontario, Idaho, Texas, Georgia, British Columbia, Ontario, and we know of a couple coming from Ecuador”, Reathaford said.

Sharon Grant, of Friends of Badger Mountain adds, “It’s a thrill – a dream come true – seeing Badger Mountain utilized for this amazing event. It benefits the people, the local economy, the health and well-being of all.”

A new section on Badger Mountain will be part of the course.

A volunteer effort under the guidance of trailmaster Jim Langdon completed the 1,400-foot addition to Sagebrush Trail, circumventing the steep stair steps at Trailhead Park.

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Last year, 35-year old Brandon Benefield from Spokane won the 100-mile race, crossing the finish line just after midnight on Saturday night, clocking in at 17 hours, 32 minutes, 46 seconds.

The long-range forecast for next weekend is indicating no precipitation, low winds, and temperatures in the 50s to 60s.

Net proceeds from the event will benefit Friends of Badger Mountain, Washington Trails Association, Girls on the Run and Team in Training, which is raising money to fight leukemia and lymphoma. A scholarship funded by the race will benefit one lucky local student.

For more information, go to www.badgermountainchallenge.com

Paul Krupin is an avid local outdoor enthusiast and a member of the Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC). He has been hiking the trails of the Pacific Northwest since 1976. At least once a month, he leads a free hike to one of the local area trails. Find out more at the Intermountain Alpine Club (IMAC) Facebook or Meetup pages. He can be reached at pjkrupin@gmail.com.

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