Drone follows Badger Mountain Challenge trail warriors
The weather is warming up and melting the snow, improving the conditions for runners in the 9th annual Badger Mountain Challenge.
The two-day mountain trail running event on March 29-30 is known as one of the most challenging and grueling foot races.
Organized by Nomad Trail Runners of Eastern Washington, the Badger Mountain Challenge attracts hundreds of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the region — as well as nationally and internationally, from California to Germany.
A majority of the ultra-distance runners are from out of town.
Organizer Jason Reathaford expects about 700 participants this year. That’s fewer than normal because of the cold, wet spring.
“The heavy snows affected the local sign-ups the most,” Reathaford said. “Typically, most of our 15K runners are locals, and those numbers are down a bit because no one could train in the nasty weather we had.”
The record snowfall in the region this year could also make the trails challenging in other ways.
Each of the running events begins and ends at Badger Mountain’s Trailhead Park, as the athletes traverse the nearby ridges. Volunteers and organizers mark the trail so runners don’t get lost in the dark.
The Badger Mountain 50- and 100-mile course consists of foot paths, multi-use trails, rocky jeep trails, dirt roads and short stretches of pavement on and around Badger and Candy mountains.
The 50-milers do an out-and-back course along a defined trail one time. The 100-milers do the same trek twice. The 50K is also run on the same course, but turns around earlier.
The route, which has some steep, challenging climbs, also has a few short, paved road sections, and there is also aid station and crew access.
The entire 100-mile course has 15 miles of pavement, but the rest is on dirt or rock. There are several steep 800- to 1,000-foot climbs, with the lowest elevation around 500 feet and the highest at 2,000.
“We have 250 runners signed up between the 50- and 100-mile events,” he said. “That’s by far the most we’ve ever had. The 50K has 85 signed up so far, and the 15K is approaching 300 entrants.”
Last year, 38-year old Zack Gingerich from Newberg, Ore., won the 100-mile men’s race, crossing the finish line just after midnight on Saturday night, clocking in at 16 hours, 32 minutes, 27 seconds — a new course record for that event.
So far, the long-range forecast for race weekend is indicating above normal temperatures, with highs reaching the mid to upper 60’s, and a chance of rain on Saturday afternoon, with low winds.
And they hope the rest of the snow will be melted by then.
Net proceeds from the event go to Friends of Badger Mountain, Washington Trails Association (WTA), Girls on the Run and Team in Training (“TNT” benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).
The Badger Mountain Challenge is also offering a scholarship to any eligible high school or college student.
For more information visit www.badgermountainchallenge.com