The Broken Arrow Skyraces Return to Olympic Valley

Broken Arrow is back, and the field is deeper than ever. Here’s what to know about one of the U.S.’s premier mountain running events. 

Photo: Courtesy Broken Arrow

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The trail season is off to a running start with this weekend’s Broken Arrow Skyrace in Olympic Valley, CA. 

The three-day, seven-distance festival of all things trail will kick off on Friday, June 17, with a VK (Vertical Kilometer). Saturday will include 11K and 52K events, and the 26K race will take place on Sunday. The event also features the Iron Mountain Challenge, a time-trial style event with Via Ferrata-like features that involves technical climbing. 

“We’ve modeled our event after the European classics in an attempt to transcend just “a race,” and have what essentially equates to a three-day party, with clinics, seminars, panels, live podcasts, craft beer, live music, book signings, the awesome kids race, a massive vendor village . . .  and more,” says Race Director Brendan Madigan. “Essentially, we’ve sought to create an inclusive three-day, multi-distance event that celebrates our trail culture and lets our heralded middle- and back-of-the-packers mingle with some of the best runners in the world.”

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broken arrow skyrace hillary allen
Hillary Allen competing at the Broken Arrow Skyrace. (Photo: Courtesy Broken Arrow)

Broken Arrow offers true, European-style mountain running, including some off-trail scrambling on steep and exposed terrain with significant gain and loss – all at altitude. Athletes will encounter hand lines (a rope you grab to navigate steep or snowy sections of trail) and even ladders.

The course is rugged! We chose Palisades Tahoe as one of the most extreme ski resorts in the country and the running reflects this as well,” says Madigan. “The VK covers over 3K of climbing in just over 4 miles and 52K runners will easily break the 10K mark in vertical (26K runners half of that). Many years we have tons of snow on the course with fixed lines, chopped steps, exposure, steep slabs of rock etc. Some years the ski resort can still be open and runners descend the mountain next to skiers in bikinis and board shorts! Even the 11K is no PR route – it has over 2K of climbing!”

Athletes competing in the triple crown will run the VK on Friday, 52K on Saturday, and 26K Sunday. The 52K combines two loops for a total of over 10,000 feet of vertical gain and is a UTMB 50K (OCC) qualifier. The men’s record is held by Seth Ruhling in 4:24:46, and the women’s record by Ali McLaughlin in 4:59:42. 

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The race offers prize money, which combined with the event’s prestige draws a deep elite field. Notable runners include Cat Bradley for the Triple Crown, and Matt Daniels, Mario Mendoza, Jackson Brill, Seth Ruhling, David Kilgore, Jeff Mogavero, Eric LiPuma, Kimber Mattox, Kaytlyn Gerbin, Kristina Randrup, and Meredith Edwards for the 52k. 

The 26K will feature Tabor Hemming, Eli Hemming, Ashley Brasovan, Allie McLaughlin, Max King, Mario Mendoza, Andy Wacker, Stephen Kersh, and Sarah Keyes. 

Broken Arrow has quickly become a world class event and they have done a great job of recruiting some of the best athletes in the world. I really enjoyed my experience here last year and wanted to be back,” says Mario Mendoza. “ I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces and the beautiful scenery. That stairway to heaven is pretty special and these trails will always deliver.”

broken arrow skyrace
(Photo: Courtesy Broken Arrow)

“Broken Arrow is such a special race. It attracts athletes of all abilities with an event for just about anyone to run! I was drawn to it after hearing about the awesome trail community vibe it brings out, along with the incredible athlete support system it offers,” says Matt Daniels, who finished 4th at the 2019 Western States Endurance Run. “I look forward to being back around this amazing community I love. I’ve been away from racing for about a year due to injury, and I dearly miss the camaraderie that an event like this has!”

The race has such great support for the athletes, is well-run and organized, and has some INSANE competition!” says Ashley Brasovan, winner of the 2022 Quad Rock 25-miler and 2021 Speedgoat 50K. “The 26K is a great mix of flat and technical racing for where I am at right now in training and will lead in well to bigger Europe races later this summer. I’m super pumped to be a part of the fun this year and race some of the fastest trail runners in the US out in Olympic Valley.”

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