Tayte Pollmann’s Broken Arrow Skyrace “Race Report”

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Broken Arrow Skyrace is an American Trail Running Association race member.

e.g. Exploring everything that is awesome about the Broken Arrow Skyrace even when you’re not racing.

The Broken Arrow Skyrace, held this past weekend, in Squaw Valley, CA, holds a special place for me as a runner. In 2016, I ran the first edition of the event. I participated in the 54 kilometer, which was my first ultramarathon. After chasing race leaders, Dakota Jones and Tim Tollefson, I unfortunately lost sight of the course markings and ran off-course for several miles. I finished the race in fifth place, running almost 60 kilometers. I later learned that many runners had similarly ventured off-course.

Despite getting lost, I loved the beautiful scenery in Squaw Valley and the great people involved with the event. The race organizers aimed to make their race one of the premier skyrunning events in the United States, attracting elite runners, large sponsors and providing all racers with an overall amazing experience. I knew I would come to this race again.

In 2017, I returned to the Broken Arrow Skyrace and won a well-marked 52 kilometer race. After the win, I received several sponsorship offers from shoe companies. I took time to weigh my options and in August 2017, I signed with the Nike Trail Team to run trails professionally. The Broken Arrow Skyrace gave me the competition and recognition I needed to become a professional trail runner.

Ever since having surgery on my left Achilles’ tendon this past December 2018, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of racing the Broken Arrow Skyrace again this summer. Although I’m still healing from surgery and not quite race-ready, I decided to come to the event to support my friends who ran the race and to produce race-related media content. I happily discovered that whether I’m running or not, the Broken Arrow Skyrace is an incredibly fun experience. I’d like to be there every year! Listed below are some of the best things you can do as a “non-runner” at the Broken Arrow Skyrace.

One of the most fun activities you can do as a non-runner at the Broken Arrow Skyrace is to volunteer. Races organizers, Ethan Veneklassen and Brendan Madigan, will put you to work course marshalling, serving food and drinks at aid stations, flagging the course, and setting up or tearing down race equipment. You’ll likely be up quite early, especially if you are volunteering for the 52- or 26-kilometer races which have 7A.M. start times. By the end of a day spent volunteering, you’ll feel as tired as the racers!

Thank you to all the aid station volunteers!

Explore Squaw Valley Trails:
Even if you are not racing the Broken Arrow Skyrace, you can still run or hike in some of the most beautiful trails the country has to offer. Squaw Valley trails will take you through wonderful valleys, high alpine forests, and beautiful snowy ridge lines with views of nearby Lake Tahoe and surrounding 10,000-foot peaks. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife including deer, black bears, coyotes, and beavers. If you have friends racing, you can plan your hike to be at certain sections of the course when they come by.

Tahoe is a great place for active kids!

Enjoy Tourist Attractions:
The Squaw Valley and nearby Lake Tahoe areas are home to many summer tourist attractions including skiing, rafting, paddle-boarding, kayaking and much more. One of the newest additions to the adventure tourism scene in the area is the Tahoe Via Ferrata by Alpenglow Expeditions. A via ferrata is a protected climbing route found mostly in the Alps and certain mountainous locations, now including Squaw Valley. Via ferrata climbing routes include steel cables and fixed metal handles. Climbers harness themselves to the cable and follow the route with the aid of experienced guides.

I would highly recommend the Tahoe Via Ferrata to anyone with a decent level of fitness and no fear of heights. You will be lead along the route by a professional guide at all times and no climbing experience is necessary. I found my guide to be very personable, attuned to my needs and comfort level, and knowledgeable about the route and its difficulties.

As compared to traditional rock climbing, the via ferrata route’s steel cable and fixed metal handles take away much of the technical climbing challenge. However, completing the via ferrata is still physically demanding. You will be climbing rock faces as extreme as those found in typical outdoor rock climbing, so be prepared for major drop-offs, small ledges, and loose falling rock. It’s a good idea to bring snacks, water, and sunscreen for resting spots along the route. Expect to spend several hours climbing.

Running or not, Broken Arrow Skyrace, see you June 19-21, 2020!

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