Marathon runners are generally accustomed to facing their challenges on horizontal courses. The inaugural Genoa Peak Madathon on Saturday, however, is offering participants a vertical challenge rarely seen even in the world of trail running.
The “Completely Mad” marathon starts at 6 a.m. from Mormon Station State Historic Park and take runners on a course that climbs approximately 5,000 feet to the top of Genoa Peak and back. The “Only Half Mad” half-marathon starts at 6:30 a.m. The finish line for both races is Genoa Park.
Race director Kevin Bigley said he is expecting between 100 and 130 runners total for the marathon (26.2 miles) and half-marathon (13.1 miles). The half-marathon course doesn’t go all the way to the top, but still requires approximately 2,300 feet of climbing, according to Bigley.
“Everything is starting to come together. We’ve had a lot of support from the community and our sponsors, and it looks like the weather is looking good,” Bigley said. “We’re getting to crunch time. I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m also really excited and I think everyone is going to have some fun.”
The Madathon really isn’t so mad compared to the Pike’s Peak Marathon, which will be held in Colorado on Aug. 18. Since 1956 the Pike’s Peak Marathon has challenged runners to 6,000 feet of climbing up to an altitude of 12,000 feet.
“When you look at the trend on some of the most popular events, the more challenging they are, the more people want to do them,” Bigley said.
This is all about taking on the challenge trail running up and down a mountain. Oh, and then there is the added bonus of views of the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe from the top of 9,150-foot Genoa Peak.
“That’s one of the attractions of this event, you have the challenge and you’re also going to get some great scenery, too,” Bigley said.
According to the event’s website, the course features many several technical segments that include rocky, uneven and narrow trail, steep dropoffs, creek and spring crossings, plus a scramble to the top of Genoa Peak. No spectators will be allowed on the course due to the trail’s narrowness and steep dropoffs.
Coming back downhill will present another type of challenge to weary marathon runners as they head toward the finish line.
“I tell people, they think once they get to the top it’s all downhill,” Bigley said. “They think the second half will be easy, but it’s not. You still have to get back down. It’s hard on the quads even though it is downhill and you’ll find you’ve had to expend a lot of energy getting to the top.”
Many of the entries responded to an ad in Trail Runners Magazine. Among those pre-registered were runners from Mammoth Lakes, Southern and Northern California as well as Salt Lake City.
“Some of the marketing we’ve done has paid off as far as reaching out to some of those runners and running communities out of the area,” Bigley said. “The majority of the runners will be local but we want to broaden that and make it more regional and eventually national. Once the word spreads, we think we’re going to grow.”
The primary beneficiary of this event is the Carson Valley Trails Association. Part of the proceeds will go to Douglas County Search and Rescue, which is volunteering to assist on the trail. Bigley also said volunteers who want to help with the event are also welcome.