You Are A Mountain Goat!

by Dawn Carson

The Mountain Goat Hill Runs take place in Kickapoo State Park. I love this race. If you have never run ‘the Goat’, I challenge you to put it on your race calendar for next year.

I first ran the Mountain Goat in 2010 while in search for hills to prepare me for the River to River Relay. I won’t deny that I suffered during the race. But oddly, I also found myself smiling as I suffered. Here is what I discovered about this race that keeps me coming back.

The course.

‘The Goat’ begins by hurling you down the first hill, demanding an immediate decision as to what kind of hill runner you will be. Will you put on the brakes? Will you let yourself fly? Will you land on your face?

The good news is that you will have the opportunity to attack this hill (and all the others) more than once in the race, so if one strategy doesn’t work well, you get a chance for a do-over. As you run across the bridge over the interstate, you will hear the cars below, blowing their horns in solidarity. In years past, I loved the turnaround – the iconic Kennekuk dude blasting classic rock from his pickup truck, waving us on with his hands in the air, dancing to the beat of the music.

The out-and-back nature of the race means that youget to watch the race while you run it. You will see the leaders pass by and observe with each successive lap whether the lead has changed hands or if the frontrunner has the race in the bag. You will cheer on your fellow sufferers as you pass back and forth, repeatedly. Finally, the finish – up that same hill that you barreled down at the beginning - as another Kennekuk dude with a megaphone encourages you up the final ascent.

It’s hard.

Running up and down hills as fast as you can is difficult. Racing the Goat gives a sense of mastery over hard things. Choosing to go up the hills is a skill that you can carry with you. You will encounter more difficult challenges than those hills at times in life. Many people you know already have. Sometimes the only way out is up the hill.

You are a mountain goat.

Have you ever longed to be an animagus? You may betempted to be a direwolf or an eagle, but for this race, you must become a mountain goat. As you approach each hill, take a deep breath, shorten your stride, and repeat in your head: “I am a mountain goat! I am amountain goat!” as you scramble up the slope. Mountain goats love the hills, they frolic and play and laugh at those of us who are not mountain goats. You can be one of them, and the hills will never be the same again.

I hope I’ve convinced you to give ‘the Goat’ a try. Embrace the goat within you, and run the hills in2018!

Editor’s Note: Mountain Goat Hills Race was runon 18 March this year. Dawn finished the 4.4mile course in an astonishing 36:38. There is also an 8.8 mile option.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of In Passing.