Mount Si Hill Climb and North Bend Skyline 30K
After my Wonderland Loop, I throttled down on the mileage and geared up for two relatively short steep races in North Bend: Mount Si Hill Climb and North Bend Trail Fest 30K. These races were the vision of my friend Scott Sowle and he and his wife Elizabeth direct a series of races focused on vertical gain.
The Mount Si Hill Climb was a little out of my wheelhouse, it was only 10.7 miles and featured a long descent. Typically, my strengths are long distance and steep terrain. The race certainly had steep terrain (3494 vertical feet of gain), but the low mileage would make it difficult for me to compete with faster runners. Nevertheless I toed the line in downtown North Bend at 0730 on September 23rd. The race started out on the road and then transitioned to the gravel Snoqualmie Valley trail before hitting the lower slopes of Mount Si. I managed to run the first 2 miles in 11:33 and then my pace slowed as I started the ascent. I was generally in 4th position on the climb, but managed to keep my competition in line of sight.
The weather was conducive to a fast ascent, cloudy with temperatures in the low 50s. The first mile of the Old Si trail had 972 vertical feet and took me 13:24 and the second mile featured 1290 feet and took me 17:02. The third mile of the climb transitioned onto the Mt Si trail and even though it only had 843 vertical feet my tired legs only managed an 18:17 mile. I was also stung in the leg by a bee nearing the Mt Si trail junction. On the last quarter mile of the climb, the trail became quite technical with rocky outcrops and stair stepping boulders.
I toped out (3917 feet) in 4th place in a time of 56:52 and then quickly headed back down the Mt Si trail, trying to keep a fast tempo. The descent was uneventful, I dodged hikers and tried to get into a grove, but the roots, rocks, and switchbacks made it impossible for me to run fast enough to push my cardiovascular system. Even though I felt like I could easily drop the pace, my legs could not keep up with the terrain. Ultimately I was passed by another runner and dropped to 5th place.
I hit the flat road and Snoqualmie Valley trail section at 8.7 miles in 1:29:28. This means I ran the first 2 miles in 11:33, the ascent 3.7 miles in 45:19, and the descent 5 miles in 32:36. The final 2 miles took me only 11:28, meaning that I covered the distance about 5 seconds faster than the first 2 miles. Overall, I was happy because I hit my goal time of 1:40 and I ran my race segments nearly identical to my pre race predictions. However, I was a little disappointed to have one of my worst trail race places since 2018.
I knew the Mount Si Hill Climb would be an excellent tune up race for the North Bend Skyline 30K, which was the A race of early autumn for me. Therefore, when October 14th came around I was ready to tackle the longer course. So at 0800 I hit the ground running out of Torguson Park and onto the Snoqualmie Valley trail. The weather was again perfect, with cloudy, misty skies and temperatures in the low 50s.
I did the first 1.4 flat miles in 8:55 and then hit the Little Si climb with a strong pack of five runners. I tagged the Little Si summit (3.2 miles and 1551 feet) in 2nd in a time of 28:21. Then we descended to the Old Si trail and began the arduous ascent up Mount Si. I slotted into 4th place on the climb and reached the summit of Mount Si in 1:27:03 (7.1 miles and 4002 feet). From there the trail narrowed and descended slightly before kicking up again towards Mount Tenerife, which was the third and final summit of the race.
The temperatures cooled significantly as I ascended in elevation, but I welcomed the declining temperatures because of how much my core temperatures increased with the uphill running effort. I was surprised how much I was able to run versus hike, especially on the stretch between Mount Si and Mount Tenerife. I reached the rocky summit of Tenerife in 1:59:36 (10 miles and 4783 feet). At this point I was in 4th place and the first three runners did not seem too far ahead. However, the runners behind me did not appear that far behind either.
I bombed down the hill, greeting other runners on their way up as much as my breathing would allow. The Mount Tenerife trail transitioned to the Mount Si trail, which contained one last minor blip of elevation gain before the Douglas Fir trail. Unfortunately, this little climb seemed to be the hardest of the entire race for me. Despite having about 6300 vertical feet behind me, the last 200 feet of climbing did my legs in. Fortunately, the ascent was short and things went steeply downhill from there. I actually really struggled with footing because the trail dropped so dramatically.
I reached the aid station near the base of the climb and managed to pass the king of the mountain and third place runner. This put me into a podium position. I was happy, but I knew my work was not done, I pushed on to the flat section, which I reached in 2:59:56 (17.3 miles). Meaning I managed the 7.3 mile descent in 59:40. I increased the tempo and ran the final 1.4 in 8:43, 12 seconds faster than my first 1.4 miles. I crossed the line in 3rd place with a time of 3:08:39. Obviously winning is always the goal, but I was pleased with a podium position. Since there was no precedent for this distance or race, I had no idea what time to expect, but I was hoping for somewhere between 3 to 3:10 for the overall time and I was right in that range.
Thanks to Mountain Running Races for putting on an excellent race series and thanks as always to my father Walt and my wife Apryle for their support!
|Total Distance (miles)
|Distance Between (miles)
|End of Flat
|LIttle Si Summit
|Mount Si Summit
|Mount Tenerife Summit
|Start of Flat