Whiteface Mountain Vertical K - Wilmington, New York

Distance: 2.4 Miles ............. Elevation Gain: 3430' ............ Summit Elevation: 4867'

June 30, 2018 - Very refreshing to do a short race for a change - a quick 2.4-mile dash up the ski slopes of Whiteface Mountain after a half mile of warm-up and three miles back down on catwalks after, a nice six-mile day. Just as well, because it was hot, reaching the 80's by afternoon. Whiteface Mountain has the greatest continuous vertical drop in eastern North America at 3,430'. For comparison: 3450' vertical feet at Vail, CO; 4,406 vertical feet at Snowmass, CO; 5,620 feet at Revelstoke, BC; 5020 feet at Whistler, BC.

Already sweating profusely before the 10 am start, I sought out some shade to hide from the sun and drank as much water as my stomach would hold in anticipation of the hot climb that awaited. While waiting for the start an older guy (probably younger than me!!!) asked if I was going to run up the mountain. In my reply I told him "yeah, because it would take too long to walk up." Truth be told, I've reached an urgent threshold in life where I really don't have the time to walk anywhere from now on. Time's a wastin'! Got to cover as much ground as I can before they fill these shoes with dirt.

What can one say about a race that runs straight up a mountain slope for 3400 feet, sometimes exceeding 40 degrees in grade? I did not run very much of the race, but any time the climb decreased a bit in grade, I gave it my best shuffle. From the time we hit the slope until the finish, I gradually gained on the field ahead of me, pulling back runner after runner as I maintained a well-concerted power-walk. Had we been running up Mt. Everest I may have stood a chance to be first to the top given my strength and persistence.

A 60-year-old guy that I passed toward the top was surprised that another old fart could beat him at his specialty, emphatically asking me "how did you do that?" Big lungs, I responded; that along with a lifelong ability to outclimb nearly anyone when the going gets steep enough or high enough in altitude. As I power-walked past other well-trained athletes groaning in anguish or complaining at a mis-step, pausing to catch their breath, I couldn't help being happy as punch doing what I love to do best. I enjoyed the push the entire way, without pause, finishing in 1:04. I thought I would finish in about 56 minutes, but I never came close to giving 100%, always keeping it aerobic, ever juggling that delicate balance between breathing and exertion. The weather was hot for a little while, but a cooling breeze near the top made for a perfect day to enjoy a high peak in the ADK.