Middaugh back for the 2019 GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge
Photo: Jack Affleck

Middaugh back for the 2019 GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge

Posted by: Josiah Middaugh

Editor’s note: Josiah Middaugh is a 10-time UMC champion, an XTERRA World Champion, and owner of Middaugh Coaching. He is back after a 2-year hiatus to compete in the UMC, and will also be providing coaching and training advice, blogs, and guidance for this year’s event, including a FREE training regimen program available to all who register for the 2019 GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge.

Josiah Middaugh
Ten-time UMC champ Josiah Middaugh is back to compete for this year’s incredible prize package. Photo by Jack Affleck.

Good snow in February means a good spring run-off for whitewater enthusiasts and gets me thinking about the GoPro Mountain Games.  This year the premier event, the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge, has been reformatted and simplified.  The scoring is limited to 6 events and culminates with the ultimate face-off to crown the winner, Pepi’s Face-Off.  There is just one fee to compete in up to six events and each athlete must compete in at least one bike event and one whitewater event as well as the mandatory finale on Pepi’s Face (learn more about the 2019 UMC HERE).

The way I see it, there are two primary pathways to compete, one is a run/bike focus with one whitewater event, and the other is a whitewater focus with one mountain bike event and then the Pepi’s Face-Off. So, bring your current strengths and abilities, add some specific training to shore up strengths and work on weaknesses, and there is a pathway for any mountain athlete to compete.

My company, Middaugh Coaching, is partnering with the Mountain Games this year and I am excited to announce that every registered GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge athlete with have access to a free training plan.

Run/bike Focus:

This plan is 12 weeks long and includes all the key sessions needed so you can not only compete, but excel in the multi-event challenge. This run/bike focus assumes that you will compete in both mountain bike events and all three running events, the TIAA Bank XC Mountain Bike, the Short Track Relay, the Wild Tonic Apres 5K, Rocky Dog Trail Run, and Pepi’s face off. In addition, all competitors must select one white water event and for most that will be one of the downriver sprint categories, either the GMC Downriver Kayak Sprint or the Yeti Downriver SUP Sprint.

Yeti Downriver SUP Sprint
Many of this year’s GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge competitors will choose the GMC Downriver Kayak Sprint or the Yeti Downriver SUP Sprint for their whitewater component. Photo by Zach Mahone.

For mountain bikers, trail runners, off-road triathletes, the hangup for most is the whitewater events.  A healthy fear of fast moving water is natural and necessary, but there are still some easy ways embrace the river and participate.  The two primary options are the Downriver Kayak Sprint, which uses a stretch of Gore Creek that typically has class 1 and 2 rapids.  For a proper education and skill development, contact pros in your area (like those at Alpine Kayak for Vail locals) for some introductory kayak classes.  A two-day kayak group lesson would be a good place to start.

Another option for non-whitewater folks is to opt for a sit-on-top kayak which is surprisingly fast and requires less skill than traditional river kayaking.  The stand up paddleboard (SUP) in the Yeti Downriver SUP Sprint is a third option, which still requires a high level of balance and skill, but appealing to be able to jump on and off or drop to your knees.

Whitewater Focus:

For whitewater enthusiasts there a more possible combinations since there are six possible whitewater events to choose from.  However, you still need to compete in at least one bike event and one running event (which could be the mandatory Pepi’s Face Off).  I just got off the phone with world renowned kayaker Nick Troutman, and gleaned some insight into his training.  Ultimately the best preparation for the whitewater events needs to include time on the water to work skills, conditioning, and preparing for the demands of the events.

The whitewater focus plan will include some of his favorite gym exercises for shoulder strength/stability, core training, and metabolic conditioning.

The GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge can be an added thrill for whitewater specialists in the 2019 version. Photo by Rick Lohre.

The next part of the equation for the paddlers is to do just enough mountain bike and running prep so you aren’t a fish out of water.  Luckily the running and biking events are short, but that also means they are intense.

For running there is the conditioning component for the uphills and also the muscle prep so you aren’t ravaged by the steep downhill running.  For mountain biking you can either choose from the short track relay or the TIAA Bank XC Mountain Bike race.  The Short Track Relay might be the way to go if you can’t commit too many hours to bike training to be ready for the elevation gain of the XC race.

Put it all together and you’ve got a couple distinct roadmaps to get yourself ready for the GMC Ultimate Mountain Challenge. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to sign up and get your training regimen in play.


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