Badger Mountain Challenge 50 Race Report – Annika Brubaker

Photo : FotoRuby

Race: Badger Mountain Challenge 50 miler

Runner: Coach Annika Brubaker

Race Date: 03/25/2022

Location: Kennewick, WA


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

  1. The race very affordable; definitely worth more than you pay.
  2. Aid-stations are stocked with lots of goodies
  3. The race is in the middle of town so easy to access for runners, crew & support (cell service the entire time).

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

There was not port-a-potties at every aid-station. Being 5mons pregnant this made many miles very comfortable! This race is in the desert so no good places to “hind behind”. take advantage of the ones you see!

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

Since the race is desert terrain, all the course marking are at ground level. Most are little flags stuck in the sand, on rocks and a few clipped to sage bushes. As runners we look a head and not down… so it’s easy to miss markings/turns if you don’t pay attention(and look down)! There are reflective flags at night so head lamps are a must. Many runners get lost and miss turns because they don’t pay attention.

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

Nutrition aka fuel – One of my big concerns doing this race pregnant was getting in enough calories & hydration. I started practicing this months ahead and planned out “race day fuel” the week before. I planned to take in 60g of carbohydrates + 5-10g of protein per hour. For food- Picky bars, Honey stinger waffles, chews, peanut butter pretzels, and “fuel for fire” fruit smoothie pouches. For hydration- Nuun Endurance and Nuun electrolyte(200mg sodium very 1/1.5hrs). I carried enough fuel for the amount of hours it took me to restock at my drop bag(McBee miles 19&31). I also got (real) food from the aid-stations. I did very minimal caffeine and spaced throughout the day. I never hit a wall, major fatigue or mental exhaustion!! I finished feeling really good and strong(14:34). I’m so glad I did this race with the goal to finish and not push; it gave me the opportunity to focus on nutrition and the importance of being well fueled! This was a HUGE win for me!!

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

Extra socks, more socks and socks!! You’ll will go through the “jeep trails” filled with sand or moon dust plus the single track part can be really dusty. It will eat your feet up! Pack baby wipes, salve (Happie Toes by squirrel’s nut butter) and lots of socks. MAKE the time to take care of your feet!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

The climb of McBee about mile 20 and steep (just over 1,000ft in less than a mile) take your time. The ridge line out to ChandlerButte is really rocky and technical. It will take longer than you think; especially if you’re doing at night (100milers). Watch your step, use hiking poles(several fell on this part).

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Plan for wind, strong wind! (more on this later in the weather info)
  • Watch for course markings about a foot off the ground!
  • You’ll go through a culvert that gets really dark. Pull out your light; doesn’t last long but you don’t want to fall!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

It’s a beauty within its own… lots of desert, sage brush, vineyards, apple orchards and farm land. The scenery changes as the course does so that keep things more interesting. Lots of spring beauty being the end of March.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

  • Yes and No.. there are some easy sections that are very runnable & fun. A few miles on paved road and a nice gravel section through the “endless vineyards”. There are some technical, hard parts that you’ll hike/walk. This course is very unique in how it changes and varies along the route.
  • The 50 mile is basically an out & back loop. For the 100 mile, you do it twice. In some ways it would be nice to know what’s coming but could be mentally challenging doing it twice.

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

YES! A lot of the volunteers return each year and know how to run the aid-stations. Start/Finish area(Badger Mt park) had lots of help/volunteers at check-in for drop bags and to answer questions. It seems each person knows there job and how to do it! I had some of the most lovely, encouraging volunteers at the aid- stations. RD does a great job planning this race! Keep in mind there’s 100, 50, 55k & 15k distances in two days.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I wasn’t competing so I can’t speak for this. There’s usually some speedy people and plenty of people that hike/walk it. It is a smaller race and the only ultra race in Eastern Washington. The 100 mile is a UTMB qualifier!

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.

This race smaller and still somewhat unknown. There seems to be plenty of registration spaces available for the ultra distances. With this race being “in-town” there are lots of hotels close by. A few camping places are available at Badger Mt park start/finish area

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

Located every 3-7 miles You’re in for a treat with the aid stations! Lots of good snacks & drink options at each station plus good food to sit down and warmup.
McBee station has delicious Avocado, Turkey wraps and soup. I believe all the other ones offer soup & quesadillas. There’s no skipping on the food! You may also find beer if you know who to ask 😉

Weather and typical race conditions

Spring time in the Tri-Cities can have awful wind. You’re better off being prepared for wind and count your blessings if it’s not too bad. There is NO protection from the elements. It can be hot during the day(70s) with full sun; pack sunscreen & a hat. It can also be chilly at start/finish(high 30s)cold(low 30’s) during the night for the 100miles. Pack layers and plan for all weather; spring weather in the Tri can be crazy!

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

  • Gators covering your shoes help to keep the sand/dirt out(it will still creep in tho).
  • Hiking poles can be helpful in parts on the course but many places you’ll just carry them.
  • Hydration pack for water as it can get really hot during the day. Given the terrain you maybe awhile in between stations for water.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Yes, lot of good places to come cheer on runners! Crew is not allowed at Jacobs Rd station anymore but there are plenty of other places. There are additional places to pull off the road and check on your runner plus the aid stations.

How’s the Swag?

  • 50 miler – a nice medal and maybe a stuffed badger if you have an extra hard day 😉
  • 100 miler- custom belt buckle, tech fabric shirt and 100 miler hoodie
  • nothing over the top; also a swag bag at packet pickup

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

9/10 – It’s worth traveling to this race and experiencing the unique course in town but yet out in the desert!

Annika Brubaker is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Annika, check out her coaching page.

Photo: FotoRuby