Teams choose to participate on either the Varsity or Junior Varsity (JV) course. The two levels vary in physical demands due to course mileage and elevation intensity. Every team starts out on the same course. There will be a decision point on the trail where Varsity and JV will proceed on different routes. See below for course descriptions and maps.


The course climbs steadily on old logging roads and switchbacks, through hardwood forests and over smooth ledges, to ascend Black Mt. with an elevation of 2274 ft., and Rumford Whitecap at 2202 ft. These summits provide beautiful views, including 360-degree vistas that are visible for miles of the hike. In between these peaks, gradual descents and steep climbs will keep racers challenged before the descent to the Ellis River for the canoeing element.

Teams will cross a field and descend a bank to begin their paddle of a 5.5 mile winding river segment with slow-moving current. Some sections of the river are very deep, but sand bars may surprise the unsuspecting. The fastest paddlers will be those who can read the river and steer to deeper water through bends. This river travels through beautiful, undeveloped farm land, with Great Blue Herons often perched on the banks. Teams will need to take great care when passing other boats, paying attention to the trees overhanging the river, and the depth of the water. The paddle ends at the confluence of the Ellis and Androscoggin Rivers.

Day One Elevation Profile


  • Varsity: orange
  • Junior Varsity: yellow
  • Paddling: blue


Day 2 begins at Sunday River and includes new adventure elements, and a memorable ledge ascent. Racers should prepare for a day of climbs covering significant elevation. The course includes rocky inclines, narrow hiking trails, open slopes, ledge scrambles, and in-your-face steeps.

All teams will bag Whitecap, Locke, Barker, Spruce, and Aurora Peaks, with OZ and Jordan Summits as special treats for the Varsity teams, allowing them to cover all of Sunday River resort. There will certainly be surprises along the way to challenge the physical and mental fortitude of teams as they adventure on Sunday River’s slopes, including some possible wet and wild moments…!

After a day of climbing and physical tests, the course ends with a relatively flat hike (potentially a run for the more competitive) back to the Summit Hotel at Sunday River. 

Day Two Elevation Profile


  • Varsity: orange
  • Junior Varsity: yellow


SCI takes your safety seriously. Race officials will conduct an onsite safety briefing during the mandatory race meeting on Thursday evening.

Each team is required to carry an SCI Mountain Challenge-issued tracker at all times while on the course (provided onsite before the race start). The tracker automatically communicates with race headquarters every five minutes with the precise GPS location of the team, and features a “help” button should the team require assistance. In addition, trail runners are placed strategically at checkpoints on the mountain each day to provide assistance to competitors if needed. Each team member must also carry several mandatory items at all times while on the course as a minimum safety standard. See MANDATORY GEAR section for details. 

A team of medical professionals (EMT and First Responders) will be onsite for support and emergency purposes. Any serious extractions or injuries may require the assistance of the Maine Fish and Game Department. SCI maintains a written safety plan specific to the 2019 SCI Mountain Challenge that includes an overview of the route and identification of risks, as well as contingencies for everything from inclement weather, to accidents, to extractions on the course.


Each competitor must carry a number of mandatory items on his/her person at all times as a minimum safety standard while on the course.

Competitors will encounter checkpoints along the course where race officials will check for mandatory gear and issue time penalties for missing items. The following lists outline the required and suggested equipment, and competitors may opt to bring additional gear based on their individual needs. The lists may be subject to change and participants will be notified of any changes in advance of the event.

Each person is responsible for carrying his/her own equipment and clothing for the climate, conditions and activities. SCI will provide Fueling Bags with snacks each morning, but competitors may choose to bring additional food. It is recommended that competitors bring at least 100 oz. of water up the mountain each day.


(one set per individual participant)

  • Waterproof jacket (this is determined by looking inside the jacket at the seams. If the seams are not “sealed” then the jacket does not meet the waterproof standard. Most GORE-TEX® jackets have taped seams)
  • Whistle 
  • Emergency blanket (lightweight, Mylar-type material, thermal)
  • Headlamp or flashlight (cell phone flashlights do not apply)
  • Wool or synthetic cap (NOT cotton; wool remains insulated and will dry more quickly)
  • Capacity to carry a minimum of one liter of water (although it is strongly recommended to carry 3 liters)
  • Official race bib (to be given to each competitor at the mandatory team briefing)

(one set per team)

  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Small assortment of band-aids
  • 3” ace bandage
  • 6 doses of anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. Ibuprofen)
  • 6 doses of antihistamine medication (e.g. Benadryl)
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Pocket knife
  • Epinephrine for those with anaphylactic reactions (venom allergies, etc.)
  • Medical tape
  • Gauze pads

SUGGESTED ITEMS (not required)

  • Dry bag for all gear (Ziploc bags will work)
  • Neoprene gloves
  • Hydration pack
  • Extra pair of lightweight shoes (to wear in the canoe)
  • Visor
  • Sunglasses with retention strap
  • Extra socks
  • Anti-blister lubricant (e.g. Hydropel)
  • Moleskin
  • Easy to eat and access snacks
  • Bathing suit for heated pool


The SCI Mountain Challenge will be run in accordance with the following Rules and Regulations. It is the obligation of each participant to review this document. Detailed information on team composition, scoring, penalties, competitor withdrawal, and other essential topics is included.  



The SCI Mountain Challenge is a physically demanding event. SCI hopes that the competitors will view their participation as a chance to push themselves, focus on their strengths, and feel a great sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line!

How competitors prepare for the Mountain Challenge is up to each individual. Below SCI has provided a link to detailed, month-by-month training suggestions designed for competitors at three different fitness levels. If choosing to follow personal training schedules, here are some goals to keep in mind in the lead-up to the event:

  • Improvement in cardio fitness: choose any type of aerobic exercises that will raise your heart rate, get you moving and leave you sweating by the time you’re done. Hiking on uneven terrain is the best preparation for the land-based sections of the Challenge.
  • Aim for a minimum of two 30-minute cardio sessions per week, building the intensity of your workouts.
  • Improvement in strength and stamina: strength-building exercises such as lifting weights or body weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, etc.) will gradually build stamina in your upper body which will help with the paddling element of the course.

Additional Tips:

  • Break in the hiking boots or trail sneakers that you plan on wearing in advance of the event. No one wants blisters!
  • Train with your teammates to figure out how to make your team as efficient as possible. If you are different sizes or fitness abilities, split up the load of your backpacks proportionally to the size(s) of the team members to help balance things out.
  • Test any new equipment you will be bringing on the course (such as day packs, hydration packs and trekking poles).