4MPH Challenge!


This race is not to the swift…

March 17-18, 2018 @ Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (Shasta County, CA)

Registration for 2018 will open in September.

Can you manage a 15 minute per mile pace on relatively benign trails?  Of course you can!  Most of you could do sub-10min/mile, many could do TWO miles in 15 minutes.

And in this race, that’s all you have to do!  15 minutes per mile.  4 MPH.

A fairly easy (one medium size hill) 6-mile point-to-point course from Oak Bottom to the historic Tower District (near the Camden House).  2.5 miles of lakeshore running and some great views at both ends of the course.  Mostly single track with a half-mile section of road in the middle.  Any time under 90 minutes counts as success! When you finish, you can sit down, eat and drink, visit with other runners, whatever.

When the 90 minutes are up, head back the same way to Oak Bottom.
Once again you have exactly 90 minutes to finish.  And then…

You Get To Do It Again!

The first time that you fail to finish a 6 mile leg in 90 minutes, “Yerrrrr Outttt!”
And if you do make it, congratulations, you’re tied for first place!

How many legs can you do?  How many miles?
How long can you keep up a 4MPH pace?

Since everyone starts every lap together and hangs out together between laps, this is a very social event.  As for the race yourself, whether your goal is one lap or 20, your main competition is yourself.  How far can you go?  And will you be able to come back next year and go further?  No time limit, I’ll stick around as long as you keep up the 4MPH pace!  (I’m not worried, I know that sleep deprivation will catch up with you eventually).

Three tiers:  You can sign up for:

Unlimited:  Just what it says, as long as you can keep up the pace (current record is 114 miles (Garret Christensen, 2014).  $60 until 2/28, $80 from 3/1 – 3/21, $100 race day.

Up to 36 miles:  $36 until 2/28, $50 from 3/1- 3/21, $60 race day.

Up to 12 miles: $12 until 2/28, $20 from 3/1- 3/21, $30 race day.

Refund and Deferral Policy: If you cannot make it, you may email us up to 10 days prior to the race and request a deferral of your registration fees to any other STR race in the following 13 months.  9 days or less prior to the race you can receive 50% credit toward a future race.  No refunds.

Starting times: Groups A & B (Unlimited and up to 36 miles) start at 8:00 AM, Group C (up to 12 miles) starts at 9:30 AM.

Since many of you have TOO MANY t-shirts, we no longer include t-shirts, you may purchase them for only $10 (below cost!) when you register online, leftovers will be available for purchase at the race.

Aid: We will be providing aid stations at each end of the course (every 6 miles).  You will still want to bring a chair for each end if you are planning to run further than 12 miles.  We will provide basic aid station fare, you can bring drop bags for your personal dietary preferences.  We can fix something hot and simple for runners who are still competing after the sun goes down (every six miles until the finish).  We will have a microwave oven available beginning at sundown at Oak Bottom if you want to bring some microwaveable foods of your own for Saturday night or Sunday and beyond.

We will find you a ride back to the start if you have to drop at Tower.

AND… We now have a bridge over Mill Creek!  No more wading!  Thank you to the National Park Service with donations from Shasta Trail Runs and the Friends of Whiskeytown.

The course begins at the beach at Oak Bottom at 1225′ elevation.  The trail runs between 1215 and 1250′ elevation for the first 3.7 miles then climbs switchbacks for almost 1/2 mile to 1450′.  It remains at that elevation (great views, including the west side finish area) for one mile then descends during the last mile, first rapidly and then very gradually, to the turnaround (near Camden House) at 1275′.  The return (west to east) is therefore a bit easier than the east to west route.  Each 6 mile segment includes 1 mile of pavement and 5 miles of trails.  There is approximately 500′ of total elevation gain per 6 miles (including all the speed bumps!) and the same amount of descending, approximately 80′ per mile up and 80′ down.

Camping will be available at Oak Bottom for only $11 per night.
(News Flash!  Tell them you are coming for the 4MPH Challenge and they will give you a 50% discount!)

Click here for information on how to reserve a site or call 530-359-2269.
Loop D is closest (by foot, not by car) to the Start/Finish Area (next to the snack bar).174fc7aeb35051a

It’s going to be Party-Time until the last biped comes home to roost!

Parking for the weekend is $10 unless you have a Whiskeytown or National Parks pass.

Here is a most excellent 2016 race report by Jeremy Johnson.

Justin Watt’s 2017 race report.

How long can YOU keep it up?

Click here to see pictures of the course.



Elevation Profile (westbound):4MPH elev

There are no prizes in the shorter “fun runs”, though there will be simple finisher’s awards for the 36M race.  In the Unlimited Category your time on the last leg does not matter, the winner is the person with the most total miles. If two people finish with the same # of miles it is a tie, if you want to win, you have to go at least six miles farther (@15:00/mile or faster) than the other person!  Prizes to the top 3 men and women (farthest distance).

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“This was my FAVORITE event of 2013 (maybe ever)” Tanya Ziemer Trump

“This was an absolutely phenomenal event!   I can see fewer road races in my future–I’m getting addicted to trail runs.”  Denise Boehle

“Excellent day at 4MPH challenge; hung out with some of my favorite people and had a blast. Was thinking of 18 and ended up running 54miles for a new distance PR! Big thanks to Mark Swanson for a fantastic event … Two enthusiastic thumbs ups for 4MPH challenge 2014″  Stephanie Ksenzulak-French

“Thank you all for such a great time! Not a pr but a hilariously fun 42 miles! In my top 5 for the best running event. Will see you for sure next year.” Lynn Longan

“This event was so much fun!… I made it to 30. Made the time cut off by 1 minute… Farthest distance I’ve gone.  Still my favorite event of the Year!” Abby Clester

“Thank you so so much for putting on this great race! My friends and I had a blast and plan on making this a tradition.” Jennifer Saavedra

“many Thanks for an Epic Event today. the weather was wonderful, the trail was beautiful and the company…..awesome. A perfect day.”  Lee Ann Paul

“Thanks for an amazing day yesterday!! Will be back next year for sure!” Suzanne Wilson

“”I’m in awe. But the best part of this race format is being able to hang out together between legs & get to know and be inspired by such talent. And thanks for a 1st class race.” Denise Boehle

“It was a really great adventure! I loved it!… Fun way to test your limits without getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere.”  Nicolette Amann

“Great event on Saturday…Fantastic. Well organized and very well thought out.” Joe Palubeski

“Great, well run race put on by Mark Swanson and Josh Ritter… Thanks for a fun day in a beautiful place!” Beverley Anderson-Abbs

2015 Results: Great new course, beautiful weather, perfect weekend, new course record!

2014: Five inches of rain the night before!  This was not the event that I planned or that you signed up for, it was a whole ‘nuther absolutely epic day (and night)!  Check out Cody’s Video Summary!

Great race report by First Place Jeremy!

Results, Pictures, Reports and More (2014)

RESULTS! (2013)

14 thoughts on “4MPH Challenge!

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Shasta Trail Runs! | Shasta Trail Runs

  2. Hey Shasta Trail Runs,

    This race sounds so unique and fun! I’m just curious about how long this race typically runs? How many laps do most people do, on average? What’s the course record?

    • We don’t have any “typical” yet. Last year was the first time and we kept it small. The winner was 84 miles. This year we expect some of them to be out there more than 24 hours but I would be very surprised if anyone went more than 150 miles.

  3. This is also under the “2013 results” but since no one looks there I thought I would post it here for everyone to see.
    This is an awesome event!!!

    Race Report

    This is first time I have ever finished 1st place in a sporting event ever!
    Thank you Mark Swanson and the crew for putting on an amazing event. Maintaining 4mph was tough but for some reason, that day it just got easier with each passing lap. I hit a huge wall after coming in from mile 60. I wasn’t able to get my heart rate down and wasn’t able to eat. After sitting for 10 minutes my body was all of a sudden cold and I just did not feel like going on.

    My wife never gave up on me and told me to get my butt out there and just slow down and I’ll get through it. I never would have made it past that lap without her. From then on, I slowed down enough that I had less than 9 minutes between each lap (except the last 2 laps).
    It also got cooler after that lap and each lap after just seemed to become redundant and get easier.
    At night, it seemed we went from 7 to 4 all too quickly. It was completely understanding at that point you just wanted the pace to slow down and be able to walk and let your body settle down or at least be able to have enough time to get down a real meal.

    I am not a fast runner and it was so much fun the entire day with everyone just being chilled out just maintaining the necessary pace. This is by far the best asset of this run and what makes it so unique.
    Thank you Kent Dozier for keeping us going and huge thank you to Tim Larson.
    He PR’d his longest distance ever by 22 miles and through lap after lap of pouring rain.
    On miles 78 – 84 the skies really started opening up and everything became soaked. This was Tims last lap. He missed a turn a ran almost an extra mile on the lap before and I kew he was beat. Just lining up for that last lap took guts. I know Tim knew that I only had about 8 minutes between each lap so right from the start I took the lead and wanted Tim to think that the pace I was keeping was my normal pace.
    Just before the first mile I was a few hundred yards in front of TIm and I heard him let out this big sigh. I knew he was done and it seemed as if right there, he stopped keeping a 4mph pace. That gave me a huge boost and right there I put the throttle down. For some reason, that day, I still had so much left in me a could have gone for several more laps. It helped to have zero problems with my legs or feet and with the cooler temps it all just seemed so easy.
    I didn’t see Tim’s headlamp for the longest time and thought, this just may be my last lap. It was so wet that lap and over half the corse had become a 4-6″ deep stream or puddles running down the trail. it was wet wet wet.
    Then on the long switchbacks during the last 2 miles, there was his light only about 4 minutes behind me and it was obvious that he was going to make the time cutoff.

    Back in camp Tim said the words I so wanted to hear, (he was done) which still met one more lap for me.
    At the start my headlamp was fading to the point that I could barely see. I picked up another headlamp and fresh batteries while at camp so I changed them out on the out and back. Nothing. Stupid crapy headlamp. On top of that I dropped my watch that I had in the same front pocket in my pack as my headlamp. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have time to look for my other headlamp batteries and now I had no way of knowing my time left.
    I’d had enough and just went with the dying headlamp and started to head out on a pace that I would have no problems finishing in time.
    I thought it was wet the last lap, this lap was insane. I just didn’t care about trying to stay on the outside of the puddles. At least 4 1/2 miles of the trail was covered in water and I was in it. None of that seed to matter though. Everything was for the last time. I tore through the flat first few miles and even managed to kept a 4mph pace up most of the hills. On top of the water, I was completely soaked and had the lining in my shorts chaffing me raw.
    Knowing that I would make it in plenty of time, I hit what was know a completely flooded Buck Hollow with a huge smile knowing that I was home free. With very little light I managed to run most of the last hilly mile and a half and when I came out of the trail to the road, there was Mark in his truck.
    Time to put the hammer down, I ran all the way in completing the last lap in 1:15 which was not only my 2nd fastest lap but would have been my fastest with the 3+ minutes I spent messing with the headlamp.

    Thanks again Tim for keeping it real and making me run that last lap.

    And thank you everyone for coming out and making the 4mph challenge such a great event.

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