Sun Mountain 25k – Preview

The Sun Mountain 25k is my fourth event of the year and takes place this coming Saturday (05/17/2014) on Sun Mountain in the Methow Valley. With wildflowers in peak bloom and the trail winding through snake, bear, and cow country, your focus on sweeping the trail will be checked by the vertical elevation. At 1900 feet of vertical gain and most of it coming in the front half in one fell swoop, the back half of the looped course should be a screamer of a descent.

The Methow Valley sits in the North Cascades of Washington State, just east of the pass, and nestled down just before landscape opens up to northeastern Washington. From Seattle, when the pass is open it’s a 3 hour drive and when the pass is closed the round about way is a 5 hour drive, though still pleasant and scenic. Either way will get you to the same incredibly beautiful fairly secluded basin and the towns of Mazama, Winthrop, and Twisp where the skies are bluer, the temperatures warmer, and everything and everyone finds themselves just a bit more relaxed.

My goals for this race:
1. Make it to the Start Line.
2. Don’t get hurt. I have something a bit longer planned in two months.
3. Make it to the Finish Line.
4. Be gracious and thank every volunteer I encounter. Soak in the sun. Smile.

So about that whole fueling and hydration…and cramping thing.
Hopefully there shouldn’t be an issue with cramping since the race is shorter, but I never seem to know anymore. Plus, it’ll be warmer out there than I’m used to, so fueling and hydration will be important. This may or may not be the cause of cramping (probably, possibly at least a partial contributory element) and I need to keep working on dialing down on exactly what works best for me anyway.

Without further interruption, Sun Mountain 25k hosted by Rainshadow Running.

Race Entrants:
342 entrants have signed up from seven states (Alaska, Alabama, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) and two provinces in Canada (Alberta and British Columbia). One person has finished the race 3 times, seven people have finished the race 2 times and fifty-two people have finished the race 1 time. The youngest entrant is 13 years old and the oldest entrant (but will not necessarily be the slowest) is 66 years old.

Elevation Profile (From Race website):

2014 Sun Mountain 25k Elevation Profile

Video Preview (by Steven Foreman):

Race Description (from Race website):
“Located on the east (read sunny) side of the North Cascades on the edge of the Chelan Sawtooth Wildereness above the Methow River Valley these courses offer great mountain trail running early in the year. Year round the sun shines an average of 5 out of 7 days in the Methow Valley and for race day (historiacally speaking) there’s only a 20% chance of rain compared to 60% in Seattle or 80% in Olympia or Portland! In partnership with MVSTA and Sun Mountain Lodge we’re proud to bring you the first and finest ultra in the Methow Valley.

The Sun Mountain 25k is one of those races that gets people hooked on Rainshadow races. It’s all the things you’ll be looking forward to in May: Sunny, scenic, challenging, fun.  The course is a mix of gradual climbs, screaming downhills, mountain vistas, dense forest, blooming wildflowers, and open sagebrush hillsides.

The Sun Mountain 25k starts and finishes at Sun Mountain’s Chickadee Trailhead, off of Patterson Lake Road. For the most part, the trails are well-maintained, not very technical, and quite fast. Most of the climbs are gradual. For the 25k, there’s really just one big climb, and only 1900 feet of gain, so once you knock that out, it’ll be a fast second half. If your kids are running the 1k, that course is a little hilly, but won’t be too hard.”

2 thoughts on “Sun Mountain 25k – Preview

  1. Maybe I missed it along the way, but what is the definition of a Rainshadow Race?

    Note … am enjoying your various write-ups.



    1. Rainshadow Running puts on the races. They’ve done the scouting of the course, the permitting, volunteer organizing, aid stations, and take care of all the logistics you can think of that let us just show up and run without having to worry about anything except making it to the finish line.

      A rain shadow refers to the leeward “shadow” side of a mountain which is usually drier and warmer as most of the moisture is released before and as the clouds and weather hit the top of the mountain pass.

      The Methow Valley is a perfect example of an area in a rain shadow. It’s almost assured that as you get over Rainy Pass and Cutthroat Pass and duck down into the basin, it’ll be 10-20 degrees hotter and mostly infinitely drier. Of course as you continue to go east, the shadow ‘dries’ up.


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