Welcome to the Mount Si Race Page. You will find here information about the race genesis, the route and valuable historical information concerning this annual gala event.
For those interested in heading directly to information on past year(s) or next years' race info try:
The First Mount Si Race - 1999 or The Second Mount Si Race - Race2K or
The Third Mount Si Race - Race2001 or The Fourth Mount Si Race - Race2002 or
The Fifth Mount Si Race - Race2003 or The Sixth Mount Si Race - Race2004
The Seventh Mount Si Race - Race2005
The run itself consists of a series of switchbacks all on an excellent trail (until the summit gully) through rather steep forested terrain up the southeast side of Mount Si, a foothill of the cascade range located off mile mark 32 on I-90 east of Seattle, Washington.
The distance is 4 miles from the water faucet near the parking lot up to the summit plateau and another quarter mile up the gully on the north side of the summit haystack to the summit itself and back for a total of about 8.5 miles.
Vertical elevation change is almost 3700 feet and starts at about 500 feet. The route meanders through several different ecosystems as temperatures and average rainfall vary with elevation.
For maps and pics of the trail check here.
One of this year's participants (me) started running the route around 1994 as a good training exercise for general mountaineering cardio and leg conditioning and had, as a publicly stated and elusive goal, vowed to beat two hours. In 1996 a time of two hours and THIRTY SECONDS was recorded and there was no question that two hours would fall very soon - but for an early snowfall that made fast times impossible for the remainder of that year.
Sigh. Can you say "obsession" boys and girls?
Over this time I would - rarely - encounter in brief passing a few other men and women who also seemed to be running this route but I never considered racing the route.
However there was one event that planted the seed that bore fruit in the first of what will likely be an annual event.
I think the year was 1995. I was doing the usual warm-ups and preparation and noticed a group of young men and women starting out at the same time. They appeared to think they were going to run and I sized them up briefly. Knee length baggy shorts. Underwear sticking out. Multiple ear rings, nose rings, even a pierced eyebrow. Tattoos that seemed to extend well beyond visible areas. Didn't seem to talk much to each other and looked a bit sour in general. My thought was "What are these Gen Y slackers doing here? These silly kids will be calling for a helicopter ride to the couch within a mile."
Au contraire. I found I couldn't lose them. I got the distinct impression my presence in the front was holding them back a bit. One passed me on a corner. How can these kids be doing this? Then another passed on a corner. What the **** is happening here???. Finally I gave it up and let the pack pass and concentrated on keeping contact. When they got to the summit gully they dithered a bit and I went up a steeper part of the gully and finally caught the last one mere feet from the summit where I flopped to the ground as they gathered around, now chatting breezily with each other, admiring the magnificent panoramic views of the Cascades, the Olympics, Mount Rainier, Seattle etc. I gathered from their conversation that I had been following the varsity cross country team for a local high school on a run to break up their usual routine. It seems they were not slackers.
My satisfaction with beating them to the top was tempered by the fact that they didn't, actually, seem to know they were racing. I consoled myself with the thought that I might also be wrong about my persistent fears of what will happen to my pension pittance when these kids take over as "captains" of industry.
Be that as it may, I was talking a bit (i.e. boasting) about this run with some colleagues who were dutifully impressed (i.e. they thought I was bleeping nuts) and word of this got to the 19 year old son of one of these colleagues and one thing led to another. Well I guess what really happened was that words were exchanged like "I could blow you off the mountain you pathetic old geezer. Take your midlife crisis to somebody who cares." and "I'll send you home cryin' to momma you pretty-boy punk." You know the routine. Generally a disgraceful display of macho posturing of the type that I, at least, thought I had outgrown decades ago. Things were said that could not easily be taken back. There was belly bumping and nostril flaring and pupil contracting all around. By the time I came to my senses my colleagues were placing bets.
The First Annual Mount Si Race was born.
The route is usually free of snow to the summit sometime in May, and the summit gully usually becomes an ice climb sometime in November. To allow for training and to accommodate this time window, late August or September is a reasonable target date for this event each year.
The run is on a popular hiking trail near Seattle, and on weekends becomes so crowded it is impossible (and dangerous) to try to make time. To minimize this problem - and to avoid becoming a public nuisance and general health hazard - the race should be held on a weekday and, if possible, before 10 AM. Runners should be started at three minute intervals in groups of two or three, and total numbers of runners must be limited. This can never be a big race - I would guess that twenty runners would be too many.
Fortunately, the nature of the race restricts the numbers to a tiny lunatic fringe of running crackpots, and excessive numbers of runners are not expected. ;-)
As for rules, I can think of only two: First, running any member of the public off the trail during a race is an "instant" disqualifying event. Second, "cutting across switchbacks" is not only antisocial but also strictly against the rules.
Susanka's Front Door