Are you ready for the Vertical Mile Challenge? The extreme running event is set for Saturday, June 16 at 8:00 a.m. at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area in Hiddenite. This fourth annual event, dubbed VMC IV, is sure to attract trail runners from North Carolina and surrounding states due to its growing popularity and challenging venue.
Participants in the Vertical Mile Challenge run a 2.2-mile trail loop eight (8) times, covering 5,280 feet up and 5,280 feet down (a vertical mile). Each loop, runners climb the popular “Stairway to Heaven” trail, which is approximately a third-mile long with an elevation change of more than 500 feet at a 25 to 30 percent grade.
The entry fee is only $25, which includes a t-shirt (if you finish the race).
The course begins and ends at the bottom of the cliff face directly behind the parking lot. The course is paved for a short distance and then becomes typical single-track trail. After approximately 1/2 mile, runners will begin the climb up “Stairway to Heaven.” At the top of the climb, the course goes down Hollow Rock Trail to Buzzard Loop Trail to the end of the loop at the start/finish area. Runners will complete the loop eight times, equivalent to approximately 17.6 miles, and a vertical mile up and a vertical mile down.
The Vertical Mile Challenge will have an eight-hour cutoff, allowing those who have finished seven loops by the end of seven hours to continue on to the eighth loop.
At the base of the mountain near the start/finish area will be a self-service aid station with water, electrolyte drink, as well as salty and sweet snacks. Runners are encouraged to carry a bottle. Each loop, runners will travel a paved section along the base of the cliff which is an ideal place to bring your own drop bags with any special needs participants may have. A large trash receptacle will be along the course just after the aid table and just after entering the woods.
Awards will be given in two categories for Overall Male and Overall Female, as well as “Fastest First Lap” for the male and female who complete the entire eight laps. Gavin Coombs holds the course record with a time of 2:21:08, while Holly Klein holds the course record for a female at 3:53:46. For fastest first lap, Gavin Coombs (16:12) and Holly Klein (28:18) again hold the course records.
The deadline for a guaranteed t-shirt was June 1st; however, those registering after June 1 will get a finisher shirt if one is available. You must finish the race to receive the event t-shirt.
Packet pickup is race morning from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. at Rocky Face Park, located at 3451 Rocky Face Church in Hiddenite.
CLICK HERE for more information about the Rocky Face Vertical Mile Challenge.