The North Face Endurance Challenge Breaks Through Bellingham

Photo Courtesy of The North Face

Hundreds of fast-moving, hard-breathing runners will push their personal limits when they hit the trails on June 6 for The North Face® Endurance Challenge 2009 Northwest Regional in Bellingham, Washington.

Set in the heart of the Cascade Range, this stop of the nationwide running series offers a technical course with elevation gains that jump from 200 feet to a whopping 2,500 feet over the 10K, Half Marathon, 50K and the Gore-Tex 50 Mile distances. The route traverses a broken ridgeline of fire roads, single-track and double-track, requiring nimble feet and serious concentration for successful navigation.

With the San Juan Islands to the west, Mount Baker to the east, the Skagit Valley to the south and the British Columbia coastal range to the north, runners can enjoy spectacular views in every direction while testing their fitness, endurance and heart.

"Beauty and the beast," The North Face® athlete and internationally recognized Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes said of the course. "That's how I'd describe the Bellingham course. You'd be hard pressed to find a course more beautiful or more beastly."

Karnazes ran and hosted the course during its inaugural inclusion in the Endurance Challenge in 2008. He will host the Bellingham event again for 2009--welcoming participants, signing autographs and sharing his love for endurance running.

Year after year, The North Face® Endurance Challenge attracts some of the world's top ultra-endurance runners. In addition to Karnazes, The North Face Endurance Team athlete Sam Thompson will be in attendance. Hundreds of runners from across the country and around the world are set to race the Bellingham course for a chance at the biggest cash purse in the ultra-running community. Others will come to enjoy the scenery, the challenge or the opportunity to compete over a distance and terrain they have never covered before.

For Seattle resident Matt Mitchell, The Endurance Challenge will be his first foray into trail racing of any kind.

"I just want to find out what it's all about," said Mitchell, who registered for the 10K after a chance encounter with a trail runner on Mt. Si got him interested in the sport. As an avid outdoorsman who occasionally competes in local 5K and 10K road races, Mitchell says he's looking forward to racing on more challenging terrain.

Running Clubs Help Athletes Reach Higher Goals

Veteran Bellingham competitor, Alison Burpee, finished second in the half-marathon in 2007 when it was held at Seattle's Cougar Mountain. For 2009, she is looking to push her limits in the 50 Mile race.

"I decided to sign up for the 50 Mile race in a moment of total insanity," Burpee said. She joined the Seattle area Endurance Challenge Running Club to prepare for the 50K event. Her training progressed so well that she eventually decided to register for the 50 Mile event instead.

Endurance Challenge Running Clubs, which have chapters in major metropolitan areas near Endurance Challenge events, are ideal for athletes preparing for a 10K, Half Marathon, 50K or 50 Mile event in The North Face® Endurance Challenge. In collaboration with Carmichael Training Systems, the clubs focus on fitness and each distance-specific program holds twice-weekly sessions to help participants obtain the required skills, strength and endurance necessary to complete in one of races.

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