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The beer up here

Beginning with the 2004 Mount Ashland Hillclimb Run, the names of the male and female winners are etched onto the Standing Stone Brewing Co. to memorialize those who powered 13.3 miles and 5,600 vertical feet to the peak of Mount Ashland each August.

In between Mount Ashland Hillclimbs, the keg is kept at the restuarant-brewery and serves as a reminder of the grit and good times participants share.

&

It&

s a good feeling of camaraderie,&

Chuck Taubner said. &

Even if you didn&

t know anybody when you started, you know them at the top.&

Exhausted, dehydrated and sore, the fastest runners get to the top in under two hours, earning their spot on the silver, 5-gallon keg.

Local running legend Ric Sayre set the course record in the 1980s, though no official statistics were kept noting the year or his time. He thinks it may have been in 1985 and ballparks the record around — hour, 42 minutes. comparison, the winning riders of an annual mountain bike race that follows a similar course arrive at the lodge in 1:34.

Trevor Coolidge won the race in 2004 and Dolores Bergman led the women&

s race, finished ninth overall and recorded the fastest mark for women in the history of the event (2:13:39).

But back in 1980, the inaugural event 16 years preceding the opening of Standing Stone, &

running was just pretty much getting started,&

Taubner said.

The idea to race from Lithia Park to the top of Mt. Ashland had been tossed around, but runners didn&

t know the path between the two. That year, someone had found an old map that depicted the trails and Forest Service roads that lead to the peak.

That first year, its six runners got together one weekend to run the course. The next weekend, four people ran the course again because not everyone interested in the event was available the first time through.

&

We thought the next year we&

d have 500 people coming from all over the country,&

Taubner said. &

That next year, we went from six to eight runners.&

Over the years, the race grew to 25, then 40 entrants. Last year, almost 80 people came out for the event. Organizers expect between 70 and 80 for Saturday&

s race.

&

It was more of a casual affair,&

current race organizer Torsten Heycke, a two-time hillclimb finisher, said. &

We&

ve kind of upped the ante.&

With more sponsors and prizes, including the backing of Standing Stone for the past five years, the hillclimb now attracts athletes from all over the West. Still, the majority of the runners are locals who enjoy the trails.

&

I think you should run it for the intrinsic value of running it, not for the prizes,&

Heycke said. &

There&

s definitely a sense of achievement when you&

re on the top.&

There&

s still the chance that 500 runners will enter the race next year, but then they&

ll have to order a second keg.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 3019 or jsquires@dailytidings.com.