Posted by: cadavidson | September 15, 2013

Jerome, Finally!

No single race means more to me than the Jerome Hill Climb, and I’ve said this for many years, even before and after some ho-hum performances. I typically log specific workouts built just for this race.  This year, I spent a good amount of time, since I’d established a good base of mileage, running .5 mile hill repeats. I ended up tallying 5 such sessions. The goal was simply to run them faster than race pace. I also put an emphasis on running the down hill back to the start at sub-6:00 minute pace to help in preparing for the down hill into Telluride in the Imogene Pass Run taking place the weekend after Jerome.

The Jerome Hill Climb, put on the Arizona Road Racers, starts in the old mining town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome, not the booming mining town it used to be, nor the ghost town it most recently was, is now a quaint refuge for artisans (you can’t argue this because I sat on a 5 hour flight from Philadelphia to Phoenix next to an artist who contemplated moving to Jerome due to the number of artists in town), is situated on the side of a hill at 5000 feet above sea level.

This race is so important, that I’ve dedicated a notepad file, that’s right a notepad file(!) to my times. I’ve made the drive to Jerome 8 out of the last 11 years. I’ve been doing this race for a long time. Here are those times.

Year Time Pace
2012: 33:47    7:31
2011: 34:21    7:38
2010: 33:40    7:40
2006: 39:31    8:36
2005: 38:48    7:29
2004: 40:04    7:42
2003: 44:56    8:40

This year, I was joined on the 90 minute drive from Phoenix to Jerome by my daughter and her boyfriend. We departed on time at 5:00 sharp, made excellent time and were at the starting area around 6:45. I avoided a near race-blowing error when I realized, after jogging a few years towards the start line a mile away, that I’d forgotten to pin my number on my shorts. Jason, a good running mate and neighbor, met us at the parking area, this would be his Jerome Hill Climb. Jason and I jogged the 1 mile, which serves a nice start to a warm-up, down to the starting area.

The race started on time at 8:00. The Jerome Hill Climb is a low-key event. No timing chips, no D-Tag, no timing mats, not even a starting gun this year. Just a “ready” and “go.” I like it!  The first mile went as expected, I wanted to go out hard. The tough hills are within the first 2.5 miles. There’s no point in pacing this section. It’s a short enough race that I knew I would have to and could go at a high effort throughout. I took the lead from the start line. When no one challenged, I contemplated slowing it down, waiting for the next runner to come up, and just run with them and try to make a move towards the end, but I didn’t think this would be good form on my favorite course. Not really what I’m about. I wanted to put in a good effort. The first mile, which climbs through town mostly,  and its 300 feet of climbing were completed in 6:48. By the end of this mile, I could no longer hear footsteps behind me. I just told myself, “don’t blow this.”

Solo out in front for a change!

Solo out in front for a change!

I felt like I was putting out a good effort here, but was well within my limits. The second mile, and 280 feet of climbing were completed in 7:20. The first 2.5 miles of this race gain nearly 1000 feet to a 6000 foot elevation.  Still out in front, I was concerned there would be a high school speedster, which the Jerome Hill Climb is famous for, with a polar opposite race plan than mine – go out easy, and hammer the last two miles. I continued with a solid effort through the end of mile three with another 7:20 split. In 2012, I ran 7:50 for this section, so I knew I was at a minimum, stronger than last year.

Miles 2.5 – 4 are still uphill in the Jerome Hill Climb, but the grade is much less steep; between 2 and 5%. At the start of mile 4 I started doing the inevitable math. If I run 30 seconds per mile slower, and “he” runs 30 seconds per mile faster, I could still lose 60 seconds in mile 4 and there’s still another half mile to finish. Better keep the pedal down!

The math continued through the end of mile four, which checked off at a 6:37 split for its 114 feet of climbing on rough dirt road. The final half mile I finally realized I’d cross the line first, provided I didn’t really blow it – i.e.. fall, shred a hamstring, twist an ankle, etc. I ran at a 6:34 pace for the final half mile.

Jason also went on to finish a solid day with a 38:37. Good enough for 16th overall!

I’ve had my eye on the beautiful award or pottery, made by local Jerome artist Anne Bassett for the top finisher for many years, and I finally get to take one home!

Click here for results

IMG_1576 IMG_1571



  1. Great race, Cory! Awesome splits. I’ll check out your cool trophy on our next trip out to AZ. We were in Jerome a few years ago with your parents and toured the mining museum. So, I know how steep the terrain is. Look forward to running “with” you at the St. Louis Rock and Roll half marathon next month.

  2. […] year, I had my best race ever in Jerome – first place over. Read about that edition here. I knew it would be very difficult to defend my first place from last year. I’m not fast […]

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