Mt. Madonna: Your challenge should you accept it

The summer is more than halfway over and school is in session. That means the autumn foot racing season draws nigh. The 37th Annual Bill Flodberg Mt. Madonna Challenge, a Gilroy tradition, beckons hardy racers to toe the line in the dirt on Aug. 25.

The late William Flodberg, a passionate runner, spearheaded the race, before handing the event over to the South Valley Running Club five years ago.

“Bill Flodberg and his running group from Gilroy used to organize the race. There are only two members left and they keep to running the flats.  However Flodberg’s widow Sheila is at the start of every race and is an active volunteer,” said Allan Abrams, race director and member of South Valley Running Club.

“I’ve only run this event once and that was about 15 years ago.  I remember running the 12K and it kicked my butt.”

Due to the nature of the location, the capacity for all fields is between 250 and 300 participants. Parking at Sprig Lake is limited, so get there early. However, Fortino Winery is a site for overflow parking and offers shuttle service to the start.

This race isn’t for the cowardly. If you like steep terrain and manzanita and oak lining the unspoiled mountain paths, then this athletic challenge is for you. The race features a 6K, 12K and 18K but recently added a longer distance for those who can’t get enough hilly action.

“Trail running is trending towards longer and longer distances. Most of the races around the Bay Area include at least four distances from 5K up to 50 miles.  Runners are looking for bigger, greater challenges. With miles of excellent trails at Mt. Madonna we decided to add the 30K and see what level of interest we have,” Abrams explained.

The challenging terrain attracts hardcore trailblazers of all abilities. The elevation gain in all distances is as follows: 6K-700 feet, 12K-1200 feet, 18K-1,900 feet and 30K-3,100 feet. But don’t let these gently rolling hills freak you out.

Abrams added, “Even though all four courses are challenging the trails are wide, soft and mostly tree covered.  So when it’s 90-plus degrees in Gilroy, the race starts off with a low, cloudy mist surrounding the hills and we usually do not see the sun until about 10 a.m.  I encourage everyone regardless of their skill level to come out for a morning outing in one of our most treasured and little-known county parks.”

• Register at or race day on Saturday at 7 a.m.

Packet pickup is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Road Runner Sports in Campbell on Friday.

Angela Young is a free lance journalist for South Valley Newspapers and is passionate about the running world. She’s been a runner for over a decade and loves to write stories on seasoned athletes, weekend warriors, newbies, races of all distances on paved roads and off the beaten path. She likes to include the wild and crazy and as well as the most serene in her stories. Send her an e-mail at [email protected]

• These are the winners from last year’s race. You may run (pardon the pun!) into them at the challenge coming up:

6K Male – Hector Figueroa, 27:47

6K Female – Natalie Mazaud, 37:33

12K Male – Raymond Rodriguez, 59:53

12K Female – Linda Rosenband, 1:14:06

18K Male – Sean Curry, 1:27:54

18K Female – Tracy Christensen, 1:57:49

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