After Cirque Series, a running event company in the U.S., had to cancel its lineup of events for 2020, organizers decided to create a virtual challenge that was unlike many of the others that have popped up around the world since the start of COVID-19. Instead of a race with a set distance, participants were tasked with gaining as much elevation as possible in the entire month of October. The challenge was called Max Vert October, and it saw 300 runners take to their hilliest routes in an attempt to climb higher than anyone else. By the end of the month, Salt Lake City’s Noah Brautigam was the clear winner, with 104,306.5m of elevation gain under his belt between October 1 and Halloween.
The virtual event
The rules for the event were quite simple, with runners uploading their run data to the race website. One very important note, though, was that all runs had to be round trips. This meant a runner couldn’t run up a mountain and get a ride down — every run had to have the ascent and descent accounted for to have it added to a participant’s total elevation gain.
As Brautigam told Outside magazine, he completed most of his runs on Grandeur Peak, a 2,500m mountain just outside of Salt Lake City. He said the peak’s west face is “hyper-efficient for getting vertical,” adding that he could climb a vertical kilometre in just over two miles of running. “It’s so steep,” he said. “I think it averages a 28 or 29 per cent grade for the full climb.”
Brautigam said he spent four to six hours each day on Grandeur, logging as many vertical metres as he could. In total, he averaged more than 3,300m of climbing each day, and he ended up beating the second-place finisher in the Max Vert Challenge by more than 11,000m.
Run your own Max Vert Challenge
Max Vert October may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t run your own version of the challenge. As of Tuesday, you’ve only missed two full days of logging mileage (and elevation gain) this month, so why not run a personal Max Vert November? This would be a great way to motivate yourself in training, and it would undoubtedly help you become a stronger runner, because, as everyone knows, even if you don’t love hills, they’re a great way to get faster.