Fitness · Just my Thoughts

Tram Challenge – A Race Recap

I ran a fantastic race while I was out in California. I discovered the Palm Springs Tram Challenge, a 6K run/walk that had a 2000 foot elevation increase, online. Since I would not have a car constantly at my discretion while in the area, I emailed my stepfather – the trip was still a surprise for my mother – to see if he thought it would be okay if I ran it. The weekend of the race was the weekend of my mother’s birthday. Many other people were coming in for the birthday party so I wanted to be sure this would not be a problem.

With the okay from him, I decided I was going to do the race.

Friday afternoon, Tom and I headed to Palm Springs. I have always thought of my mom and step dad as living in the Palm Springs area. I didn’t realize that they were 30 miles away from Palm Springs. Tom had programmed the GPS for the store address that was holding packet pick up. Off we went for me to pick up my bib and then, the two of us where going to the tram area. This would allow me to check out the route and then go up the actual tram.

The story of the tram ride and the subsequent visit to a state park will come in the future. For now, let me say that driving up the road the incline did not seem bad. Yes, it was a bit ominous that there were signs that warned cars to turn off their air conditioning to prevent overheating. Yes, I noticed the sign that indicated 1000 feet in elevation and then 2000 feet in elevation. (Just an FYI, the house where Mom and Tom live is at about 45 feet in elevation.)

News reports were showing that there were over 900 people registered for the race. 824 finished. I estimated, prior to the run, even though it was only 3.7 miles that I would take one hour to finish.

The morning of the race Tom and I set out for Palm Springs before it was light out. He parked in the Carl’s Jr lot as the instructions said to do. I got out and got my heart rate monitor on and made a conscious decision to not run with my phone which was going to be my camera. Tom took a couple photos and I was on the bus, heading to the start.

The sunrise as I was waiting for the race to start was absolutely beautiful. I don’t know if it is the lack of humidity in the desert air or the mountains that we were near but the colors were brilliant and wonderful. I was really annoyed with myself that I had decided to not run with my phone. A photo would have been great.

This year was the 26th running of this particular race. I have to say that it rivals any that I have run as the best organized. Even the day of registration was well organized. There were bags at the registration so if you wanted to shed some clothing and have it taken to the end of the race. The temperature was around 60 that morning when the race started at 8 am. The high for the day was suppose to be over 85. I was concerned about the heat but it was okay.

The first two miles of the race seemed to go by quickly. All of the print materials said to be careful as the beginning was the easy part. The 12% grade didn’t come until closer to mile 3 and the last bit of the race was at a 14% grade. The accent was not the problem with this race. Breathing was. Little did I know that I am most likely allergic to cats. Having spent the last five days in a house with three cats, I could barely breath as I was going up that hill. People often ask if running in the cold causes my lungs to burn. I constantly say no. I have never felt that burning feeling in my lungs until this race. I ended up walking a good portion of the last 1.7 miles. I ran when I could and for that little dip that occurred. I laughed hysterically at the sign that said here come the easy part. At the end of the slight downhill, there was another sign that said easy part is over. As I said to another runner, obviously humor put there by someone driving a car.


I was close to one hour and could see the finish line. I tried my hardest to pick up my pace but the steeper it was, the harder that was. I couldn’t do it. My Garmin’s official finish time one hour and four seconds. The race’s official time one hour and 21 seconds. I am happy with that.

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