Mt Baldy 2010 Run to the Top – Race Report

Mt Baldy
Another tough part of the course. It is straight down on the right. photo by Ivan Buzik

For those you that don’t know, this is my favorite race in So Cal. It is what I call a “Baby Race”. A “Baby Race” is a race that is super tough, puts you in pain, so you wonder why you even decided to participate in it in the first place. But, an hour, a day, a week or a month later, you have forgotten the pain, can only remember the view from the top and are ready to schedule it on next years race calendar.

I skipped it last year because of the Station Fire and had forgotten just how steep some of those section are. This is a tough race, considered one of the toughest in all the states.

It was business time. I needed a test to check my inner strength and this is that annual test. This time, I never questioned myself out on the course. I ran my race, which is to stay consistent for the first four miles, no walking, take a gel at the ski lodge and run every part that is not super steep, quickly walk/hike up the steep stuff and keep a positive attitude. I succeeded.

When the race started many people ran past me. This happens every year and I know many of them will break down. I just have to stick to my race plan. But this year was different. Fewer people were breaking down I was and getting passed by some strong athletes. I think with the popularity of the Ultra scene, and the book “Born to Run” more people are up for this type of challenge and training harder.

I didn’t get discouraged, I had set a goal of 1 hour and 32 minutes to get to the top. If I could do it, it would be my second fastest time ever. I have done this race at least 6 times. It was a personal battle against Baldy’s unrelenting single track, technical climbs and altitude.

In the last four miles you get surrounded by athletes of similar ability. This is where I wanted to gain some ground, hoping my course knowledge and recent training was going to let me be stronger and know when to attack. Well, not much attacking happened, so my next thought was not to get passed and with 2 miles to go and I didn’t.

The last half mile is a climb, straight up. This year the group took a steeper but more direct route and I wasn’t thinking as much as following. At one point I passed this man, and the five steps I took to pass him took more energy out of me than I could imagine so I just got back on pace and settled back in for the last 400 meters.

Finally, I saw the finish line and heard the race official yell out 1:32:25. I did it, It wasn’t my prettiest race, but my second fastest time up that hill and 55th overall.
The plaque proves it. Dave made it to the Top for the first time

I walked up to the 10,064 ft, elevation plaque and once again was on the top of So Cal. I took in the 360 degree view, then kept walking as my body was adjusting to the altitude and cooling down.
Sole Runners long time Mentor Vern does it again and PRs

I spent the next hour and half welcoming runners to the Top and talking to new and old friends. I was proud to see Sole Runner mentor Vern PR by 1 minute. I greeted runners Kevin, Dave, Kris and Carolyn cross the finish line for the first time. They had listened to me talk about Baldy for months and now knew what it was like to join this elite club.
Carolyn and Kris emailed me last week and asked if they would be able to make it to the Top, they did!

It was time to go back down, the 4 mile walk to the ski lift, that they don’t tell you about in the brochure. Roberto grabbed an empty water jug and I grabbed a trash bag. The first mile down took 27 minutes. The trail going back to the ski lodge was like the 405 at rush hour. Over an hour later we were at the bar lifting a pint in celebration of another great Labor Day at the Top.
Roberto and I get the annual picture at the Top

Look for the video soon,

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Co-founder


One Response to “Mt Baldy 2010 Run to the Top – Race Report”

  1. Kevin Heinz on September 7th, 2010

    Great job Steve and congratulations on achieving your goal. You beat me by a good 23 minutes! Thanks for your encouragement out there and at the finish.