Ultimate Mountain Challenge: Race Report 3

This is the third of four reports from Stephen Regenold on his experience racing in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, a multidisciplinary competition at the 2009 Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo.

The Native Eyewear 10K Spring Runoff is touted as one of the most challenging footraces in the nation. Indeed, the course up Vail Mountain includes 6.5 miles of trail that climbs and climbs for 1,800 vertical feet. On Sunday morning, I ran this event as part of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. It was by far the most difficult of the weekend’s four competitions.

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Runners heading up the initial switchbacks on Vail Mountain

Four major climbs were included in the precipitous course. The first one, which was more than 500 vertical feet, dispersed the pack in a hurry. The elite runners galloped uphill like mountain goats. People at the back of the pack walked.

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Elevation and distance graph of the course

I raced somewhere in the middle. In the end, the pros were making the course in under an hour (about 50 minutes for the winner). I raced at a high heart rate the entire time, maxed out. My finish time was 1 hour 7 minutes, which secured me a top-third finish. I was happy with the time, and I think this was my strongest race of the weekend.

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Regenold (right) and Pat Petschel of GearJunkie.com at the start

As it was the Teva Games, I ran in the Teva X-1 Evolution ($90) trail-running shoes. The 2009 model features a neutral platform and a minimal upper, creating a light and fast shoe. Though the outsole looks almost too minimally treaded for steep and slippery trails, the company’s Spider XC rubber is sticky enough to grip everything from rocks to roots. On the precipitous 10K — which had twisting uphills, muddy sections, and thigh-killing descents — I did not slip once.

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Regenold lacing up his Teva X-1 Evolutions at the start