If running the flats is your thing then stay in the valley. But if you are looking for an ironman-like challenge in a pristine natural surrounding, this is it. Be prepared to add at least 10 minutes to your normal 10k times. Your first quarter mile takes you through beautiful downtown Sutter Creek. Then the work begins. The next quarter mile has a 180 foot vertical climb. In the following two miles you descend 450 feet over narrow, windy country roads to Amador City where you come up against Bunker Hill - a 250 foot vertical climb in less than 1/2 mile followed by a 250 foot descent in 1/4 mile back to downtown Amador City. The rest is true ironman - a 450 vertical climb over the next two miles back toward Sutter Creek! The view along this route is breathtaking if you can see past all your sweat. After reaching the peak, your last half mile takes you down 180 feet back into downtown Sutter Creek. You get to recover enough in that last half mile to cross the finish line without looking like you are close to death, which you were 5 minutes ago. The 5k route is far less rigorous, but you do have two hills each with roughly 180-200 foot climbs over 1/2 mile. The crowd is great, Tracy, the race MC, is funny and keeps everyone focused on the racers. She makes you feel like you really earned that medal for third place (which you did). The participants included several 4-6 year olds and at least three pregnant women, so there is no excuse why you can't run this test of endurance. See you in 2014!!