Over the past year the dirt road up to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area and I have become quite well acquainted. This route, has seen me at my best and my worst. I’ve ran hard, easy, powerhiked, limped, and flew up and down just about every section of the road, as well as the trails that weave in and out of this major artery. Just for clarification, by major artery I mean, you might see one person on any given morning. Needless to say its often just you, the mountain and a few stray vultures.
The Mount Ashland Hill Climb is a 13.3 mile footrace from Lithia Park to the summit of our 7,532 foot peak, for a total of 5,600 feet of climbing. The idea is pretty simple, start in the heart of Ashland and go up to the top of the highest mountain that you can see from town. As an employee of Rogue Valley Runners for the past two years, and a resident of Ashland since 2007, I feel a certain sense of pride for our trails and local mountains. The hills and trails you train on really define you, as a person and a runner. I’ve watched the seasons change in the Ashland watershed, and I think I’ve taken a lot more than stronger heart and tougher legs away from those hours and days on the trails… or maybe not…
Usually I want to win races because of a goal I have set, my competitive spirit, or the fact that I hate to lose. Surprisingly none of these reasons really played a part in Saturdays race. I wanted to win because Mt. Ashland is our local ski hill, its our place of freedom, its the highest peak in the Siskiyou’s. I thought somebody who lives at the bottom of the mountain, who eats at Ruby’s, shops at the ShopN’Cart, and ice baths in Ashland Creek ought to be the first to the top.
The race is special because on any clear day finishers can look upward and see those chair lifts and that weather station, and know they got to the top on foot. The race may have taken all morning and runners may have decided to never do it again, but a lot of folks got there, and fast or slow that is a pretty cool accomplishment.
Thanks to all the amazing volunteers! HUGE thanks to first year race director Joseph Chick, he organized and executed like a veteran. The event has been, was and continue to be a challenge and a success in every aspect.
I’d also be interested in opinions on how far this ball at the top of the mountain would roll if a particularly large gust of wind were to blow off the top of the mountain… In case you were wondering what I think about on my way up.