Eldorado Hill Challenge

Saturday, March 1, 2014, 11:30 AM

Location: 1369 Molly Road

Distance: One Hour (7.6 Miles Maximum)

Cost: Free

40 Runner Limit

Sponsored by RCN and Goldstream Sports

After a splendidly successful first year, the Eldorado Hill Challenge is again on the Running Club North calendar for 2014. The 2014 race will feature some minor changes, namely, flags will begin (sooner) at 2.6 miles, and all flags will be placed .05 miles apart (previously the first few flags were .10 apart). The Challenge is simply this: run as far up a hill as you can and return in no more than an hour. Whoever does the whole hill first wins. If nobody does the whole hill, whoever goes the farthest wins. The race starts (and finishes) just west of the corner of Clifden and Molly roads in the Goldstream Valley. Runners first ascend east along the entire length of Molly road until its intersection with Waterford, where runners continue east on a packed snowmachine trail along the Eldorado Ridge to its summit, roughly above (and a mile or two north of) the Silver Gulch Brewery.

Sancho Panza 2013

Course Map (Requires Google Earth)

Course Profile:

Eldorado Course Profile

Runner coming back from the trail portion of the course.

A runner returning from the trail section of the course.

The race is scored first by distance, then by time. The distance score is based on the flag you bring back to the starting point. Beginning at mile 2.6, distance flags will be placed for runners to retrieve. Flags will be available every .05 miles thereafter until the summit at 3.8 miles. The maximum distance score is thus 7.6 (since you have to come back too). Multiple flags will be available at each increment; there should be sufficient flags such that you won't have to worry about, for example, whether there will be any 3.45 mile flags when you get there. Important: You may only grab one flag, and if you grab a flag you must turn back! You could be disqualified for violating this rule. If that seems harsh, it's to make sure there's enough flags for everyone. If you want to shoot for the next flag but decide in between that you won't make it, just grab the last one you passed as you make your way back. Because of the scoring, it won't provide any advantage to grab a flag outbound anyway.

The Challenge, of course, is to make it back in an hour. Because of this, runners who return in more than an hour receive a penalty. Namely, the runner's distance score is reduced by one increment for every minute (or part of a minute) they exceed one hour. The runner's time, however, remains the same.

An example of this in operation: Stan, Bob, and Jim are running up the course together. They see the 3.75 mile flags along the course. Bob looks at his watch and realizes that they're 32 minutes into the race and he only has 28 minutes to get back. Bob is feeling conservative and grabs the 3.75 mile flag and heads back. Stan keeps going and makes the summit, grabbing the 3.80 mile flag. He even does so at a pretty good clip, so it only takes him 40 seconds to complete that last tenth (a 6:40 pace, which, by the way is probably unrealistically optimistic for that portion of the course). He otherwise runs the same pace as Bob, but returns in 1:00:02. Jim initially follows Stan, but wisdom sets in as the hill becomes excruciatingly steep, so he turns back early and grabs the 3.75 mile flag. Bob crosses the finish line in 59:22, Jim crosses in 59:54, and Stan crosses in 1:00:02.  Because Stan went over an hour, his distance score is not 7.6, but 7.5, the same as Bob and Jim. He is therefore third at the 7.5 mile level (his time remains the same).

It is obviously important for runners to be aware of elapsed time, so watches are strongly advised. Because the course is pretty much one big hill, you will almost certainly be able to return much faster than you set out. You will have to look at the course profile, gauge your own experience, and make your own judgment for what kind of split (e.g. 31:00/29:00, 32:00/28:00, etc...) you wish to attempt to maximize distance. For what it's worth, I personally turn back around 31:45. According to the spreadsheets I've developed to analyze and compare runs of different distances and elevation gains, that makes each half of the run of essentially equivalent effort (keep in mind you have to do the "equivalent effort" after doing the first half of the run, though...). I think it may be possible to push it into the 32:00-33:00 range, but I think that's progressively risky. Anything beyond 33:00 seems pretty much insane to me (do the math).

Runner ascending the trail portion of the course

Registration consists of showing up and signing the waiver form on race day. Registration begins at 10:30 AM and is limited to the first 40 people. Probably won't go over that anyway, but don't wait to the last minute if you're worried. Park up Molly or down Clifden to stay out of the immediate start/finish area.