Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Mt. Baldy Run to the Top 7 Mile
It may be called "Run to the Top" but 90% will be walking to the top. 3900 ft. rise to the top at 10, 064 ft MSL. And then there is the 3.3 mile hike back down to the Baldy Notch for the awards ceremony and refreshments before riding back down to the parking lot on the ski lift. There are no Sherpa's with oxygen bottles climbing with you, but you will wish they were. This high altitude run/hike is well worth the effort once you conquer the peak above 10,000 ft and look around. The key is to take it easy and stop to catch your breath as necessary because the trail needs your complete concentration above the Notch. Sudafed is suggested to prevent altitude sickness. Good idea to bring a water bottle.
Scott Cline writes:
This is one of my favorite challenges. A seven mile "run" with a 3,900 foot elevation gain - that's about a 9-1/2% grade average (9-1/2 feet up for 100 feet horizontal). Starting at 6,000 feet, it goes to the peak at 10,064 feet. Depending on how much altitude training you have done, the oxygen seems to disappear somewhere along the way. There are beautiful views to be taken in all along the route, but you do have to look up from your shoes! Maybe after the race, on your way down.
The first half is a very straightforward run on roadways. A little asphalt at first, but almost all dirt. The beginning of the second half is still dirt road, becoming rougher, and turning into trail. Sometimes the trail is very rocky, and I don't mean just gravel. Sometimes very narrow. Sometimes a very long way down on the side. The trail on the Devil's Backbone is plenty wide, but it's a 45 degree 1,000 ft drop off either side! What a view. There are many trails for the final seven hundred foot assent of the dome, and all are legitimate. I prefer the northeast "back way" which is more consistent in its grade.
Aid is great and available both at the halfway, Notch, and at the top. Aid is sometimes available at the quarter-way marks. You can ride down from the Notch on the ski lift, but I prefer the scenic run back down the road.
I highly recommend that you scout this run before race day. Maybe two weeks before? Better yet, several times. Be careful learning how to cope with the climb and the altitude. This is a 10,000 foot mountain top; the air is DRY unless it's raining; the sun is BRIGHT (fast sunburn!) or it's cloudy/foggy; it can be HOT or COLD, still or WINDY; and you can always count on the air always being thin. Knowing how to pace yourself is important, especially as the altitude starts to have serious effects. During the regular non-race weekend, the Notch is usually available for water and toilets, but only after the (about) 8am opening of the ski lift.
And most of all, it's fun! By the way, have you seen my collection of whips?
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