Beach Runners and Athletes Invade Mt Baldy’s Run-to-the-Top

At the Top L-R Brandon, Monet, Steve, Sara, Vern, Matt, Michael, Nichole, Jake, Me, Gary, Doug, Mina, Sandy, Anna, Jon – not shown Carolyn, Sindy and Barb

Mt Baldy Run-to-the-Top is more than a Labor Day tradition, it is a test of your inner strength as well as physical strength. I call it my baby run, because I always forget just how difficult this run is and how painful it is until I am out on the course, then it all comes back, yet the reward of finishing somehow dissolves all the pain. This is a race starts at 6,000 ft and finishes at 10,000+ ft in just 8 miles. That’s 4,000 ft of elevation gain really fast, at altitude.

Since we started the Beach Runners and this race is always on the schedule. After two years of talking about it, our turn out was bigger than ever. Many members spent the summer training with Gary for this race by running the hills of Palos Verdes. Many of our members are also training for marathons or half marathons. It is difficult to really describe the difficulty of this race. It is just something you have to do, to understand and it has to be one of the most difficult races in the country at or around its distance. So anyone who even attempts it deserves his or her stripes.

Last year, click here to read last year’s race report, article I had the best race, in my life. I ran a 1:22:08. It still feels like and outer body experience. This year, after a serious back injury, the race was just going to be a test of my current fitness. I had not done the hard training that I did last year yet I have been mounting up the long miles and my endurance seems to be at a lifetime high. So, I have lost some speed but I can go longer, easier.

My philosophy is to grind out the first 4 miles on the fire road then hang on for dear life when it gets really steep. Gary got out front, right out of the gate. I turned my metronome at 87 or 174 strides per minute and decided to just keep a steady pace. I was in 71st place at the halfway point. A mile later I saw Gary and slowly caught him. I just kept getting stronger. I pulled away from him and a few others. The final half-mile is straight up and walking. I used the ChiRunning® uphill principles. I had a gap between the people behind me and the people in front of me. I couldn’t catch the people in front of me and kept it steady because as soon as I pushed it my heart rate was maxing out. I came in 57th with a 1:33:53 which was my 3rd best time and 6th in my AG. Not bad considering what I have had to go through this past year.

Even more impressive were the efforts of the rest of our group. We had many first timers. Our group met early and warmed up. It is nice to have some familiar people around you before a race. The group support was phenomenal. We cheered for each other at the top and waited for everyone. My favorite part of this race is watching first timers cross the finish line. It can be as emotional as finishing a marathon and many our members thought this race was tougher than a marathon. Oh yeah, you have to walk 4 miles back down the mountain to get to the chairlift to get back to your car.

I want to congratulate every participant and thank the volunteers. If you woke up and got to the starting line of this race, you are a warrior. Mark this one on your calendar for 2008.

Look for more Race Reports and RunCasts on the Mt Baldy Run-to-the-Top soon.

Race Focused, Steve Mackel – Co-Founder

Steve and Birthday Girl Carolyn


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