Sometimes we enter races, but does that actually mean we are going to “run”?
At 6,300 ft elevation,
the race starts at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, WY and ends at the top of tram at 10,450 feet.
The elites sprint up the 6.1 mile, 4150 vertical feet course as quickly as the average person runs 6.1 on the flat. It’s such a challenging race that there is a $500 cash BONUS for anyone who can break 1 hour and after this year, it’s still out there to be broken. Course records were set this year by Stephen Mulherin (1:05:15) and Samantha Diaz (1:18:29).
Me, I’ll break that record in my dreams! What is absolutely humbling about this race is the difficulty. When you’ve been training and running trail races up to 18 miles, you think you’ll be ready.
I mean, I’m in shape.
I’m not super-fast but I can run a respectable half marathon. I started off feeling strong, doing my best to not start out too fast and blow out my legs too early. Joining the dozens of others who were walking the steepest inclines (yep, pretty much straight up). You’d think that living at 6500 feet I would be ready for the altitude but the elevation change definitely gets to me. I feel it in my ears and so as it started I slowed up my pace to see if a more gradual assent would help. It did for sure, but it came and went for the majority of the race.
Then as I was about half way up, I was passed by a 70 year old gentleman (aka Badass and my new hero!). As I stepped to the side of the narrow trail in order to bow down to his awesomeness and to let him by. I gave him a “wow nice work” and he responded “It gets so much easier as you get towards the top”! Um sure, okay! This did motivate me though and I kept up pace with him to the finish, going across the line together. What an inspiration this gentleman is for all of us who aspire to stay active and race for many years to come!
While I did not personally know Chris Onufer,
I have friends who did and this race is special to many because it is held in his honor. The remembrance is posted on the race page “In honor of our friend and longtime JHMR Aerial Tram mechanic Chris Onufer (Captain "X"), who tragically passed away in an avalanche on March 8th 2012, the Teton Trail Running Club and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are reinvigorating the Rendezvous Hill Climb with a new and improved course. It's pretty "X" as Onufer would say”!
So, why do we run races like this that are so difficult?
There are so many reasons and it’s different for all of us but this is one of those races that embodies all of them in one event. The camaraderie, the challenge, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day no matter what your finish time.
If you happen to be a speed demon, more power to you, but for those of us that aren’t going to break 1 hour, I’m just happy to be there!
So join me in 2017! It’s always the first Saturday in August, but my advice would be to start those hill sprints now!
- Erika E, SKORA Ambassador and supervisor of the Teton County Weed and Pest District