Hundreds tackle Pine Mountain stairs

After successful inaugural event, Rotary Club schedules 2020 climb for Aug. 2

THE IRON MOUNTAIN-Kingsford Rotary Club’s Pine Mountain 500 drew participants from as far away as New Hampshire. The event will return for a second year Aug. 2, 2020.

IRON MOUNTAIN — More than 200 athletes Aug. 4 participated in the first Pine Mountain 500 stair-climbing event presented by the Rotary Club of Iron Mountain-Kingsford.

With participants from five states, some as far away as New Hampshire and Iowa, organizers said they believe there is no place to go but “up” for this new event.

Post-race feedback from participants cited the gorgeous course, challenging stair climb and unique finisher’s medals as highlights of the event.

“It was a great day to be a Rotarian,” club president Dave McCash said. “Individuals from as young as 2 years old to as old as 85 joined us. We saw families, friends and coworkers successfully complete the course with pride and joy evident on their faces.”

With temperatures in the mid-70s and abundant sunshine, participants enjoyed the beautiful U.P. Veterans Memorial at the top of Pine Mountain and many also chose to climb the jump in addition to the stairs.

The event, a major fundraiser for the Rotary Club, generated funds for community projects and student scholarships. “Rotary is deeply invested in our community and this event assists us in fulfilling our mission to continue to give back,” McCash said.

Jennifer Chaudoir of Green Bay, Wis., placed as top female in both the Queen of the Mountain category and Overall Female. Josh Duncan of Carpentersville, Ill., was both King of the Mountain and Overall Male winner. The top three winners in age groups, stair climb and overall course time were recognized.

In addition to their volunteer duties, many Rotarians also jumped in on the fun and hit the course. Rotary Treasurer Dan Wentarmini had the second-fastest time on the stair climb for men.

Rotarian Joe Rizzo duked it out with local standout athlete Charlie Gerhard on the stairs for a humorous finish line photo.

Benji Wood, former Rotary president, tackled the course with his wife and two daughters, while Rotarian Jason Hall and his wife completed the event with all four of their young children. Race director Melissa Wentarmini cited the camaraderie and supportive atmosphere as favorite aspects of the day. “Seeing everyone finish with smiles, knowing they had trained hard and then met their goals, was extremely fulfilling,” she said. “The support of the local community was evident in the day’s success and I’m thrilled to introduce our town and its wonderful people to those who joined us from other areas.”

Wentarmini, a seasoned athlete, couldn’t resist taking on the challenge of the course as well. as well, unofficially finishing second among females with a time of 23:16. Due to the overwhelming interest, race organizers went with a wave start system to avoid crowding on the stairs and allow each participant to compete at a comfortable pace.

Walkers, runners and joggers all had the benefit of a less-crowded course and a more enjoyable event. Participants received two times, one for overall course time and one for just the stair climb. Getting in on the fun, the NFL’s Steve Mariucci (stairs No. 498 and No. 500) and Brett Favre (stair No. 4) both promised autographs to individuals who took photos with their finisher medals by the stairs owned by each.

Favre and Mariucci will be choosing from the submitted entries and the lucky race finishers will receive personalized autographs from the celebrities. Planning already is underway for the 2020 event, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 2. With the success of this first year, the Rotary Club anticipates even more community involvement, excitement and support.

Full race results can be found at www.superiortiming.com.

THE IRON MOUNTAIN-Kingsford Rotary Club’s Pine Mountain 500 drew participants from as far away as New Hampshire. The event will return for a second year Aug. 2, 2020.