The day that I was leaving for Princess Weekend, I entered my name in the lottery for the Mount Washington Road Race. Seemed like a good idea in the middle of February while all psyched up for Shenanigans in Disney… Well my team was selected and we were in. I was going to ‘run’ up Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
In case you are unfamiliar with Mount Washington, it is the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288 ft, it has notoriously erratic weather patterns, and the buildings at the top are literally chained to the ground to keep them from blowing away. The top of the mountain is above tree line and you can be above the clouds when you are at the summit. The race itself had a gain of 4,704 ft in 7.6 miles. The incline grade goes from 10-13% with the last few hundred feet being 22%!
The start was a lovely little downhill for about 1/10th of a mile. Then the climb began. I was able to walk/run for about the first 3 miles. I knew that we were going to be running uphill the whole way, but for some reason I was waiting for a flat or a downhill for a while. Most races we do, you always get some kind of a break but not this one. It was sort of an interesting mind game.
The climb was unrelenting. Mile 3-4 you left the tree line, mile 4-5 was GORGEOUS!! The views were spectacular, but you also gained 703 feet in elevation and it is the steepest part of the climb at 13% grade. It was probably the hardest section of trail.
I can honestly say that the Mount Washington Road Race was the hardest thing I have ever physically done in my life (I have done two Spartan races and did the Walt Disney World Marathon without any training as well, just FYI). It was grueling and I had to dig deeper than ever to be able to physically and emotionally get through it. The last few 100 yards the incline is at about 22%, this meant nothing to me until I actually saw it. It is steeper than a flight of stairs in your grandparents creepy old basement.
Right at the finish line, there are volunteers with blankets who wrap you immediately. Not like the people at other races who hand you the space blankets, these people actually hug the blanket around you. And the blankets are really soft and warm too. There was also a medal at the end, which is always nice (this may be the first year with a medal). Me being typical me, I burst into tears at the top of the mountain. Like uncontrollable sobbing, to the point where an EMT came over to me, took me by the arm and tried to drag me off to the medical tent. Lol. After all the training and the physical and emotional drain of the race, I was extremely overwhelmed.
The last runner up was a 95 year old man! Took him a little over 3.5 hours but he did it. AND plans on going back next year! (he’s in yellow in the photo)
Once I found my friends, we put some more layers on, took a few more pics and started our hike back down the mountain. Yes. I hiked back down after I ‘ran’ up it. So stupid. But once again, the views were beautiful!
If you had talked to me during the race, I would have told you, in between gasps for air, that I would never ever put my name in the lottery for this again. In fact, I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this year’s race. But now after looking back on the experience, thinking about what I could do differently as far as training etc, I really want to go back and do it again! Crazy I know.
While there were no shenanigans to be had during the race, we were able to hit up Santa’s Village afterwards and have some fun!
If you are looking for a serious serious challenge, then I recommend the Mount Washington Road Race. It is like nothing you will ever experience. Amazing scenery and a sense of accomplishment that I don’t think you can replicate. And I will be putting my name in the lottery again next February!