The 8000m Challenge is a long endurance event put on by the reps from Jansport, Eagle Creek, Gregory, and Adventue Medical. The normal route begins by hiking up the Hut Trail on Mt Baldy, then driving over to San Gorgonio and slogging up Vivian Creek, and finally ending the day with a short hike from the Tram up San Jacinto. This year, due to fire restrictions and closures, the route had to be altered. It still began with the Hut Trail on Baldy, but then proceeded over to Fish Creek on San G, and ended with a monotonous three laps up Snow Summit.
Myself, 10 others from REI San Diego, and 40 people from various outdoor retailers throughout Southern California participated in this grueling event that was slated to last less than 24 hours.
The day began before sunrise with a 5am start up Mt Baldy. Myself and two fellow coworkers(John Stowe and Tim Heine) busted up hill, pacing each other the entire way. We topped out as #3, 4, and 5 just after 6:30am. Then I took off on a slow jog down hill, catching the two leaders by the time we hit the bottom, just after 7:30am. Then myself and the leader, took off in our respective cars toward San Gorgonio. After a few minor delays and lots of long winding roads I reached the trailhead just after 10am. I had fallen off the pace, due to several misturns and the fact that my 2 wheel drive was no match for his truck heading up the nasty dirt road to Fish Creek. By then my two coworkers had caught up to me, so we once again paced each other up San Gorgonio making the summit
around 1pm, just over 2.5hours after leaving the trailhead. The three of us were running 2, 3, and 4 on the top of San Gorgonio, and were feeling good. Then it was my turn to take off running, I cruised downhill, making it back to the trailhead in less than 2 hours.
Here began the end of my bid to over take #1. I had made a deal with my coworkers, that since thier driver had severely slowed down, I would wait and pick them up in my car, and then head over to Snow Summit for our final laps of the day. Well an hour passed, and no sign of them, we had both left the summit at 1:10pm. I knew something had gone wrong, but was in no possition to go back and help them. So at 4:15pm I finally took off for Snow Summit, alone. I reached the ski resort at 5:15pm, now approximately an hour and a half and 2 laps behind the leader. I proceeded to slog up the ski run, which was approximately 2.5miles long and 1050ft of elevation gain for each lap. I finished my 3 laps just before 7:30pm, as darkness was settling in. By the time I finished my commrads had been found, and the rest of the participants were slowly arriving at Snow Summit. I would later discover that my coworkers had taken a 4 miles/2 hour detour down the wrong trail as they decended San Gorgonio, thus accounting for their disapperance. So ended the exhausting endurance challenge known as the 8000m Challenge.
My end time was 14 hours and 30mins, even with my hour wasted at the bottom of Fish Creek. The total elevation gain/loss for the day was 12000ft, spread out over 36.7 miles. In the end over 40 people finished the challenge, and 9 of the 11 REI San Diego employees who started the race finished.
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