2007 - Year 4 - Fall Mountain Highway Madness

9 September 2007 - 17 starters

I confess, after attending a neighbor's annual "End of Summer" garden party until the wee hours leading up to the run, I felt ripped off by the less-than-ideal weather and the fact that summer had been declared over. As I drove to the start of the 4th annual Mountain Highway Madness, I was greeted with a spectacular view of Mt. Baker on a backdrop of sunny, cloudless skies. Maybe summer was a bit late this year? What a great day to be outdoors!

Those who have participated in Mountain Highway Madness know that the long hike up Mountain Highway from the legal street parking is an enduring characteristic of the event. Call it a built-in warm-up. As if on cue, the start line conversation started with a group gripe about the imposed warm-up. Desmond Mott's arrival stole our attention, however. Des, who had taken the last hour to warm up with a little run on the Baden Powell Trail, experienced the face plant that all trail runners know will likely happen to them, but hate to think about. It was a bad one, and Des was noticeably shaken up. Thank goodness he was only spitting out blood and not teeth!

New Club Fat Ass members Jackie Muir and Arthur Gee were welcomed by all. Arthur, a 5-hour marathoner, had chosen Mountain Highway Madness as his first trail run. Rick Arikado put me on notice that he came to the start equipped with his ultra-accurate Garmin 60CSX GPS, so the question of how far it actually was from the water fountain to the rock at the entrance to the quarry would be established categorically and beyond scrutiny for all time, to a distance of 5 meters or less. (If you believe the user manual.) Michael Wardas and his dog ** showed up just in time for the starter photo. John McRae announced that fellow Fat Ass Gilles Barbeau had just passed the 75-mile mark in the Wasach Trail 100-mile run... his fourth 100-miler in so many weekends. Gilles, you inspire us all... but goodness, buddy, take next weekend off!

It was great to chat with Laddie, Michael and Neil about their summer adventures as we ran up the mountain. "Rocket" Ryan Conroy was the first person to head back down hill. Ryan had let it be known that he'd been doing track workouts twice a week of late and it showed. Newly minted 100-mile veterans Bill Dagg and Wade Repta were next, with newly-minted Club Fat Ass member Jackie keeping pace with Bill.

Given that Rick said he'd turn around at the 7.5K distance on his GPS, Neil and I kept on running beyond the official turnaround point. After about 5 minutes, we figured Rick was playing a prank on us. Surely, he'd have passed us by now if he was going to 7.5K... Hell, I measured the distance twice: once on my bike and once with a Nike Triax pedometer. No way I'm off by more than a few hundred meters. Silly bugger Rick. He probably was hiding in the bushes somewhere and expected we'd keep running all the way up to the top of Grouse! Nice try, bro. Neil and I called his bluff and returned downhill.

It was great to see so many smiling faces coming up the road as we ran down. Laddie, Neil and I traded high-5's with those we passed by. It was good to see Arthur and John Machray together. John has such a wealth of trail running experience and is such a great story-teller. (Run with him sometimes, if you can keep up with him, and you'll see what I mean!) I felt confident knowing that Arthur's life would change after this run and he'd come over to the "dark side" of trail running for good. It was also great to see that John, who is considerably faster than Arthur, was making the time to make Arthur feel welcome in this new and strange environment of trail running. Kudos to you, Machray, for demonstrating the true spirit of Club Fat Ass.

Unfortunately, time would only allow me one lap today. As I sat in the sun at the finish writing down lap times and chatting, Rick Arikado completed his first lap. How could that be? Rick, it seems, ran 7.5K according to 5 or 6 satellites on his GPS. The traditional turnaround point, what I'd been calling 7.5K, was actually more like 7K, and the total distance closer to 14K than 15K. However, until proven absolutely, I'll maintain that the distance is 7.2K each way, or 14.4K return, which still makes it an "ultra" for those who run 3 laps.

The sun was blazing hot on the terrace of the Mosquito Creek Grill, site of our post-run brunch. Thanks to Kelly and Lucy for the free pint, Trail Runner Magazine and KineSys for the draw prizes. See you in the spring!

Ean Jackson
Host of Mountain Highway Madness

Please post your comments, impressions, corrections to the results and feedback via the comment link below.

Preliminary Results:

First Name Last Name Distance P. Loop #1
Loop #2
Loop #3
Bill Dagg 45km 2


0:49/0:30 1:19 0:51/0:33 1:24 4:00
Wade Repta 45km 1 1:19 1:22 1:48 4:29
Jackie Muir 45km 1 1:17 1:19 1:53 4:29
Neil Ambrose 30km 2 1:32 1:37   3:09
Rick Arikado 30km 1 1:43 1:33   3:16
Cheryl Johnson 30km 2 1:49 2:10   3:59
Carolyn King 30km 2 1:49 2:10   3:59
Rob Ruff 30km 2 50/36
1:31   2:57
Neil Ambrose 30km 2 1:32 1:37   3:09
Cynnimon Rain 30km 2 1:38 1:47   3:27
Ryan Conroy 15km 2 45:05/29:13
Ean Jackson 15km 4* ** 1:32     1:32
Laddie Hannam 15km 2* 1:33     1:33
Rhonda Schuler 15km 3* 1:41     1:41
John Machray 15km 1 1:16/2:00
Arthur Gee 15km 1 1:16/2:00
Michael Wardas custom 1 1:23     2:43
Desmond Mott custom 2 3:00