Every year at the Outdoor Retail Summer Market, a trade show for the outdoor industry, Trail Runner magazine hosts an Uphill Challenge. In each heat of the Uphill Challenge, two participants square off next to one another treadmills set to a 15% grade on which they run as far as they can in 15 minutes by controlling the speed. Not only do participants try to win their heat, but they also try to be named King or Queen of the Mountain by running further than any other competitor of their gender. Typically, the last two pairings feature showdowns between two top women and, then, two top men. This year was no different with Brandy Erholtz racing Anna Frost in the women’s finale before Philipp Reiter took on Max King in the day’s final race. In the end, Erholtz and King were the Queen and King of the Mountain.
I heard about this challenge from a friend of mine on Facebook. Once I heard about it I put it on my schedule to try out. Since I have the US Mountain Running Championships, hopefully Mt. Washington, and the Pikes Peak Ascent 1/2 Marathon this summer I have been ramping up my mileage slowly and incorporating alot more trails/stairs/incline treadmill workouts into my plan. I have started with a pretty good base which Im finishing up here soon after the stair climbing season comes to an end. Since I live and train in central Illinois amongst the flat lands and cornfields I have to be creative in my training. So this treadmill challenge was a good benchmark workout to see where I am at in comparison to some of the nations and even the world best trail/mountain runners. Its a test with a set time and incline so you can measure yourself accurately against others. I unfortunately am not able to make it to the annual event where runner pair off in a head to head battle on the treadmill but I did my own test to where I would have landed in the 2012 challenge in Utah.
This was my debut at this challenge and from looking at other runners distances I set a goal in my mind, which was 1.5 miles. Pretty lofty but I thought it was doable. Highly esteemed runners like Max King who has won numerous nation and world titles won the challenge in 2012 with a distance of 1.65, 2nd was Luke Nelson of the Patagonia team in 1.51, 3rd was Anton Krupicka of team New Balance with a 1.50. In my test I went 1.58 miles, which would have placed me 2nd against some very decorated and experienced mountain and trail runners. Given my training situation and where I am geographically I do not have mountains to train on so this test for me is very reassuring in terms of my vertical fitness. It seems the more vertical a race is the better I am at it.
I will take this challenge/test and build on it. I will have this as a benchmark workout every week and half or two to see if I have improved. I havent trained the muscles it takes to run vertical (excluding stairs) as much as I would have liked quite yet, so the more vertical running specific workouts and runs I do the better this test result will hopefully be. Next time I will pace myself a little better and not go out so fast.
Check out the video...I know this isnt a 15 minute long video to accurately show I went the whole 15 minutes, but I would cheat or lie about this.