Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Race Report – David Greenwood

Race: Badger Mountain Challenge – 100 miler

Runner: David Greenwood

Race Date: 03/25/2022

Location: Richland, Washington

Results: 11th overall – 23:01

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3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Chill, but very well run event: This race is super laid back, very chill, but not at the expense of being well run. The race director was organized and good-humored, and it feels like there’s an awesome, tight-knit community rallying together to put the race on.
  2. Chunky: the race is broken up into distinct sections which I found helpful mentally. You could easily just focus on getting through one section at a time. You start with two mild climbs and descents (Badger + Candy), then a long flat section (road and endless vineyards), then a short chunky, dusty section (jeep trails), before arriving at all the McBee stuff – which entails a short steep climb up onto the ridge, a rolling 5 mile out and back on the ridge, and then returning down to the McBee aid station a different way than you come up, via a flowy 2-3 mile single track descent. And then you repeat everything in reverse order on your way back (to complete 50 miles). Because you see everything 4 times, you get to know the course super well and learn what sections you like and don’t like/what to expect.
  3. Flowy: The course offers a great mix of climbing, descending, and flats. Whenever you get tired of moving in one way, you get new terrain to run.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I have essentially no complaints about the race. During the race, I kind of hated the jeep trails because they were sufficiently choppy that it was hard to maintain any sort of rhythm. And they were also dusty and hot in the middle of the day, which was unpleasant. But I think every course needs a couple of sections that you hate.

If I had to come up with another complaint, I guess I’d say there wasn’t a ton of singletrack. Badger and Candy are great (smooth, manicured hiking trails) and the descent off McBee ridge is nice, but otherwise, it’s a lot of dirt roads and some pavement. Those roads put you next to the highway for a few miles and on pavement for a few miles as well. But it’s fine. Those sections go quick. And despite that, I was surprised by how pretty the course was overall.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The whole course is generally kind of weird. It’s desert + vineyards + dusty jeep trails + ridge running. But I think that makes it pretty unique.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I loved the whole experience (probably because I’m writing this a couple of weeks removed and have subconsciously blocked out all the pain and suffering). But two things in particular:

  • I think picking up my pacer at mile 50 and running off into the setting sun in the desert was pretty cool. Having a close buddy to run with was a huge pick-me-up. We watched the sunset right as we crested Candy. Then moon and residual sunlight allowed us to run for almost an hour after sunset without headlamps.
  • And secondly, on the home stretch, when my second pacer and I realized sub-24 was on the table, it was pretty cool to throw some headphones in and rally through the flat sections – the point where you start to smell the finish. This was my first 100 and so my family had recorded some touching motivational voice memos for me to use when things got tough. I thought it was cheesy at first but when I listened to them at about 90 miles in, I was choking up with emotion. They left me with a deep sense of gratitude for my support system and the ridiculously fun/bizarre/beautiful experience of running a race like this. Some combo of the voice memos, good fueling, and smelling the end helped us push pretty hard in the final 10 miles. And the trails down Candy and Badger are so flowy and gentle that you can really open it up if you have energy and finish strong. Finally, while bombing down Badger, a half-mile from the finish, it was pretty cool to pass by and give a quick hug to my sister, who was heading off on her first ultra (55k), which she finished later that afternoon.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

I had a pretty straightforward experience with minimal issues – a large part of that was probably the awesome weather. I ran about 80 of 100 miles in a tee-shirt (and probably could have run the whole thing in a tee-shirt). From what I hear, that is very much not normal for Badger weather – where hypothermia at night is a semi-common occurrence.
One thing that I think was really helpful was lightweight gaiters. The race is pretty sandy and dusty, so I think gaiters are a really good way to mitigate the risk of blistering.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

For me, I felt like you just can’t start conservatively enough on a 100. For this race, Badger Mountain is super tempting to run up at the very beginning. I run-walked it, which felt very conservative at the time. But by 50 miles in, I was wishing I started even slower.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Gaiters for the dust, have super warm clothes ready for the night, and be conservative going up Badger at the beginning.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes, it is. There are a few parts that aren’t – specifically the road section next to the highway. But Badger/Candy/vineyards/jeep trails/and McBee all offer pretty, expansive views of rolling desert hills, expansive farmland, and beautiful vineyards.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s 100 miles, so yes. BUT, with that qualifier out of the way, I would say not really. There’s nothing particularly scary.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Very. Well-oiled machine but still casual and laid back.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I don’t think it’s particularly strong, but as the results show, there were a couple of ridiculously fast times.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Very straightforward. I don’t think it reached capacity but there were still over 100 runners that started the 100. The race is very inexpensive for the experience (and swag) you get.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Aid stations were wonderful and were progressively well-stocked as the night went on (at Chandler Butte at 74 miles, I basically wolfed down a full hot meal in like 5 minutes – half a grilled cheese, a cup of chicken noodle soup, half a quesadilla and a cookie).

Weather and typical race conditions

The weather was ridiculously nice for us. Probably 50-65 degrees throughout with very mild wind. This is not normal, I am told. Don’t rely on this.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Gaiters for the dust. And I normally really like using poles, but the only time they’re really relevant is the 1-mile climb up McBee Ridge (which you do twice). I was surprised at how little I used them.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It’s great. I think our system worked well – I had my family/crew meet me at McBee at 19 and 31, then the start/finish at 50, and then back at McBee at 69 and 81. It was probably overkill to see them that many times, but I loved it and they were all happy to support. The timing can work great for crews who want to meet you at McBee for both 19 and 31 – in the 2-3 hours in between seeing you, they can hop over to Anelare winery and do a tasting and eat pizza.

How’s the Swag?

Solid, given the price of the race.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

It was awesome. It’s not necessarily the most picturesque, but it’s just a fun, well-organized event with good vibes and a flowy course. Probably a perfect first 100 too. I give it 10/10.

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