Do you know what the record ascent time for Mailbox Peak is? Neither do I, but the other day, a couple members of the SBM staff were hiking Mailbox and ran into a guy on their way to the top. He was coming down on the boulder field, glistening with sweat, taking repeated checks of his watch.

“What was your time?” we asked.

“Fifty-six minutes.”

“Wow! Really? What’s your best time?”

“Fifty-four.”

His socks and running shoes were wrapped in athletic tape and he was wearing runners shorts, carrying nothing else.

We happened to be speaking to Uli Steidl. The name sounds familiar, you say? He’s won the Seattle Marathon a few times. Like eight.  So if anyone was going to hold a record for Mailbox, it would probably be someone like him.

“Is fifty-four a record?” We asked.

“I was told some guy did it in 45 min, but that was second hand information. I have a hard time believing it…”

We caught up with Uli the day after meeting him on Mailbox Peak. Here’s what he had to say:

I don’t think yesterday’s run (56:30 up, 34:30 down) was a “record”. Last year I did a double Mailbox peak:

54:33 up 33:00 down 56:53 up 31:07 down

This counts running time only. Both the runs last year and yesterday were training runs and I stopped on a few occasions to briefly talk with other hikers. (I know Adam Lint, one of the top ultra-runners in the country, has done at least a “triple Mailbox” – and a “5x Mt Si”.) For a real record you’d have to count the entire time from start to the finish – no breaks.

Mailbox
Photo by Melissa Farage

We hiker and backpacker types usually talk in terms of hours on the trail if not days.  When I asked him more about his runs and times he had this to add:

And for this trail you have to decide where to start: At the gate by the parking lot (where I decided to start) or at the beginning of the single track trail? It makes about 2:30 – 3:00 min difference.

This was only my 4th Mailbox Peak run ever. I’ve averaged less than once / year….

I think it can be done in less than 50 min.

He modestly notes, “I don’t think you should use my times up Mailbox as records… I’m pretty sure someone’s gone faster than 54 min before…. and I stopped a few times on the way up, and stopped my watch for each break. May be I have to run it again in 2 weeks or so and go for a fast time.”

So if any of you out there need a speed and rigor challenge this summer, I believe the bar has been set. Be sure to let us know if you beat Uli’s time.

Mailbox
Uli Steidl Atop Mailbox Peak
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