Like it’s been since its inaugural run in 2011, the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k is a testament to toughness. It’s hot. It’s dry. It’s rocky. It can be windy. It’s frequently dusty. The Yakima Skyline Rim 50 km is one of the toughest and most scenic of Rainshadow races.
The nine volcanic islands that make up the archipelago of the Azores have sprung up from the ocean floor relatively recently. Altogether devoid of human habitation until the adventurous seafarers of 14th century Portugal came to shore and established small settlements, the Azores have ever since served as a key port of call for cross-Atlantic sailors.
Summertime means the mountains are open for runners and hikers, and the majority of the high alpine races are during this time of year. However, many runners, especially city slickers, don’t have equivalent climbs where they can train. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for the more mountainous races no matter where you live.
The MMT course is not an easy one, with over 16,000 feet of ascension over 103.7 miles, and the weather conditions (approaching 90 F and humid on race day, followed by an afternoon deluge and off and on showers throughout the night) made it even more interesting. But the hardest part for me was yet to come a few days later from an offhanded comment containing the word “crazy.”
Aid stations are a critical component of ultras. They serve as not only the lifeline for many runners, but are also a telling reflection of a caring community. They are composed of volunteers giving hours and most importantly driving energy to runners intent on achieving what to many may seem ludicrous.
“Since when is running 40 miles in under 6 hours the mark of a failure?” my wife asked me — for about the fifth time. I didn’t respond. I was sitting in our hotel room in a sort of depressed fog, the product of cramped hamstrings, blistered feet, mild heat exhaustion and a strong case of self-commiseration.
“When the race is 50 miles,” I finally answered.