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I’m officially in full blown FOMO mode right now. The Under Armour Mt Bachelor race is tomorrow (you can still sign up y’all!!) and I’m so disappointed I’m not there. But between travel season being in full swing (I’m writing this at a Buffalo Wild Wings between HS visits), the fact that Chicago is only three weeks away, and flight costs; being in Oregon isn’t practical.
But the first two races were two of the best, and most challenging, experiences of my life. And I’m sure you all running Bachelor will think the same thing!
The cool thing about the Under Armour Mountain Race Series, is that all the courses present their own unique challenges.
As a 50k course, Copper Mountain isn’t terribly challenging. One big climb (twice) that lasts about 6 miles is brutal, but there aren’t any ridiculously steep parts. It’s more or less runnable the entire way up the mountain. After that, it’s a solid 9ish miles downhill to the start/halfway/finish point. Even not going hard, I was on PR pace for the 50k through the first half.
The challenge, of course, is the lack of oxygen. Copper starts at 9,000ft and goes up to about 12,500. THAT is the challenge. Especially climbing the mountain a second time when your body is a bit more tired. The altitude really makes this a challenge, especially for us flatlanders.
Now, take everything I just said about Copper, and think of the opposite. And you have Killington. Altitude isn’t a problem here, as the course only goes up to 4,000 feet. But the course itself is immensely harder. The climbs were relentless and steep. The downhills, brief, steep, and full of rocks.
In total, the Killington course picks up about 10,000 feet of gain total. That would be like if we were sent up Copper Mountain a third time all within the same race. My quads and hamstrings were absolutely screaming by the end of this.
From what I’ve heard, Mt Bachelor is a split between the two. According to the elevation chart, runners will face one ridiculous climb at the start before coming back downhill and leveling out for most of the race. I’m sure it’ll be way harder than the chart shows, but it overall looks like a runnable course.
The race is at altitude, but only ranges from around 5,000-7,000 feet. So it’s a factor, unlike Killington, but not as much as Copper.
I’ve talked to a couple people familiar with the course, and they’ve said the biggest challenge is the terrain. And I’m talking the literal terrain, not the single or double track. Apparently, since Mt Bachelor is an old volcano, the ground is soft and ashy. This means that the ground will absorb a lot of impact and push-off, more so than standard dirt trails. Without having run it, I would imagine this should be similar to running on packed sand or sand roads.
Either way, those of you running Bachelor will have an amazing experience! I know I wish I was there. And if you get the chance in the future, definitely take in one of Under Armour’s mountain races. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more fun environment and well run race.