I've never been one to write down goals about life or adventures or anything. But I love to think about trips and races and planning for them in my head, especially while running. Since we've had our son I haven't had much opportunity to plan any events, so I've been going a little insane in my membrane. Thank goodness I'm still able to get out and run with my son in the stroller and do some power hiking with him in the backpack on our local trails. This list has been fun for me to dream and teleport myself to beautiful places that I'm confident about getting to. Now that ultra races have replaced skiing as my go to hobby/addiction, I thought I would give this list a go.
I have to limit this list to races that I want to run that are realistic to where I'm at right now in my life. Luckily for me, living in Seattle is a good home base for so many great races. This is my ultra marathon bucket list. The criteria for this list is that the event has to be within a days(ish) drive of Seattle so I can camp out, or if I have to fly it has to be where I have friends to crash with. And of course, somewhere in the mountains. It must be on trails, more single track the better, it must have opportunities for incredible views of more mountains, oceans, lakes or rivers. The more remote the better. From 50k's to 100k's. I have not done a 100 miler and don't plan on it until my kids are older. So there will be no Western States 100 or any other 100's on this list.
So in no particular order, with the time of year the event takes place as well as my own prediction of when I may possibly be able to do each event, here is my wish list:
The Rut 50k Big Sky, MT takes place mid September, possible dates for me to do, 2017-20
12 hour drive and camping as close to the start line as possible. 8,200ft of vertical. You climb Lone peak to reach an elevation of 11,200ft. I've skied here and got lucky with a week of powder and was very impressed with the mountains in this area just north of Yellowstone. Have always wanted to go back. Check out this video Video
Run Rabbit Run 50 mile Steamboat Springs, CO mid September, 2016-19
Fly to either Steamboat or Denver, get a ride and stay with friends. About 9,000ft of vertical. This race would be a sort of homecoming. I spent 7 years here living for the winters. After I moved away they started this event that goes from the ski area to Rabbit Ears pass. A trail I always intended to do on mountain bike but just never got around to doing it. Now I have the chance to run it! Even better! I am not a fan of out and back style courses, so you know this place is special.
Sun Mountain 50 mile Winthrop, WA mid May, 2014 or 15
4 hour drive over the cascades and camp. 7,000ft of vertical. This one got high marks for it's beauty and post race party. Also, it's put on by Rainshadow running which has a great reputation here in the PNW. Here's the video that sold me on it. Since most of the other races on this list are late summer and this one being in May, it has a shot to become an annual event for me and my family. This one has a 50k option but the RD told me the 50 mile loop has better views, so I pick that one.
Meet Your Maker 50 mile Whistler, BC early September, 2015-18
4 1/2 hour drive to whistler in the summer should provide better views than winter, since that's the only time I've been there. Possible stay in a condo should make it easier on the family. 12,257ft of vertical! Giddy-up! 90% single track is what sold me. Another added bonus on this course is you have to take the Peak-to-Peak gondola, which will give me about 4 miles of rest. I'll need it with that kind of vert.
Volcanic 50k Mt. St. Helens, WA early September, 2015 or 16
4 hour drive to the Marble Mountain Sno Park on the south side and camping in the parking lot. 6,700ft of vertical. This one is a repeat. I did this in it's inaugural year last year just by luck (read previous posts). So far, my favorite ultra. I had stomach issues and would love to get a second chance to lower my time. Even if I would have had a great run last time, this would still be on the list. Seriously, you get to run around an active volcano! Single track, rock fields, forests, wide open sections and you get to see what an eruption can do to the land around it. Make sure you check out the videos on the website.
Waldo 100k Willamette Pass Ski Area, OR mid August, 2016-20
5 1/2 hour drive and camp as close as possible to the start line. 62.5 miles and over 11,000ft of vertical. I visited this area 3 years ago with my family and parents for my dads class reunion in Oak Ridge, OR. My dad told us stories of how much fun he had in this area and how his dad, my grandfather, was a truck driver and helped build a damn there. I hope I can get the parents out here when I do this one. It's also known for great single track.
Squamish 50 mile Squamish, BC early August, 2014
4 hour drive and camp, maybe check into a hotel for the night of the race. This one scares me! Over 12,000ft of climbing. Like Meet Your Maker this one has huge vert, without the gondola ride. In fact this one has about 9 relatively flat miles. Which means the 12,000' of vert comes at you in 41 miles! I volunteered at this event this year to get a free entry fee (yup, I'm cheap), but it gave me an excuse to go up there and check out the scene. Well, there will be a lot of walking. The climbs are long. The second half is harder than the first. Note to self; start slowwwww........ My early prediction is that this will be the hardest one of the bunch.
Angels Staircase 60k Carlton, WA mid August, 2015-17
About a 4 hour drive and camp. I love it when the phrase "this can't be your first rodeo" is right below the title on the website! It advertises itself "as remote as it gets." Sounds perfect to me! Oh, and it also says "high alpine experience." I can't do this one soon enough. If I were to make this list in order of preference, it would be #1. In 2015 I will probably be doing Volcanic 50. But if that falls through then I'll be heading to Carlton. More realistically I'll get to do this in 2016 or 17. Something to look forward to.
TNF EC San Francisco Marin Headlands just north of San Fran early December, 2018-20
The North Face Endurance Challenge isn't top priority for me. But I do have some really great friends to stay with down there and it would give us a chance to see them. Of course, while I'm down there, why not run an epic hard ass 50 miler? Over 10,000 ft of climbing with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the city. I've run on some trails near there and the climbs are STEEP! Not super long but you are constantly climbing or bombing downhill. It starts at sea level and the highest point is only 1,858', so you can imagine how many hills there are. Check out the course profile (scroll down to page 8). It doesn't sound like there's much single track, mostly forest service dirt roads with expansive views. Bonus, it attracts some of the best ultra runners in the world.
Speedgoat 50k Snowbird Ski Resort, UT late July, 2018-20
This one's a stretch, being over a 12 hour drive and then camping near the resort. What a great road trip it would be! So in 2018 my son will be 5 and maybe we can attempt a trip like that. We'll see. irunfar.com covers this race every year so I feel like I've gotten to know it a little. Put on by the man who has won more 100 mile races than anyone, Karl Meltzer. 11,000' of vertical is going to hurt! There will be a lot of hiking.
There is one problem with this list, 7 of the 10 are in either August or September. Now I'm not one to go and do back-to-back hard races within a months time so it will take me at least 7 years to get to all of them. I figure in the mean time I will need some "filler races", and I don't want to take anything away from the following races but I had to stop somewhere or this list would go on forever. So I have an honorable mention list: Cougar Mountain 50k (already did this one), White River 50 mile (would be on the bucket list but I already did this one), Chuckanut 50k (also did this one), Orcas Island 50k, Beacon Rock 50k, Yakima Skyline 50k, Capitol Peak 50 mile and maybe a trail marathon thrown in. Like the Bellingham Trail Marathon, which I will be doing this November.
So there's my official bucket list. I'm sure there are many other great races out there that I don't know about so this list could be altered at any time. I look forward to adding more to this list.