The most effective way to prepare for the Bridger Ridge Run is to train on the course. For those that do not have the luxury of living near the Bridger Mountain Range, simulating the course conditions will have to suffice.
Given the 7000 feet of climbing and 9000 feet of descent, finding steep climbs and descents to train on is imperative. Power hiking up a steep incline builds strength and endurance in the posterior chain: Lower Back, Glutes, Hamstrings and Calves. Descending a steep grade conditions the anterior chain: Hip-Flexers, Quads, Abs, and front of Calves to be resistance to damage associated with the eccentric loading of these muscles when going downhill.
Completing the Ridge Run without the requisite conditioning, will result in extreme levels of muscle soreness for days afterwards. Especially the Quads from all the downhill.
Find the steepest longest hill you can find and do hill repeats.
Living near mountainous terrain, this should not be a problem. But being in flat land country such as Florida, even hills are hard to come by. Yes there are people from Florida that have done and will do the Ridge Run. Climbs such as a bridge, stadium stairs, the stairwell in a high rise building or parking garage will have to suffice.
I no longer live near the Bridger Range, but I am fortunate to live near a big hill that gains 400 feet in 0.25 miles. That is a very steep grade.
If you remember your Junior High School math. Grade also referred to as Incline or Slope is just rise over run. Elevation climbed divided by distance traversed.
So 400 feet in 0.25 miles is 400 Feet / (0.25 Miles * 5280 Feet Per Mile) = 0.30 or 30%.
Twice as steep as a typical treadmill is capable of. As a minimum, shoot for 2000 feet of climbing and descending in a training session. For this particular hill, that is repeating going up and back down 5 times. The longest continuous sustained climbs (such as the Start to the Summit of Sacajawea) in the Ridge Run are about 2000 feet of ascent. You can do more and will benefit from the resulting increase in endurance. Eventually I will work up to 10 repeats yielding 4000 feet of climbing and descending over 5 miles in a training session. I’ll do this at a moderate power hike up and a controlled slow run down. It will take up to 2 hours to complete. It is a comparable training session as going up and back down from the M Trailhead to the top of Baldy in the Bridger Range.
You can also do Productive Ridge Run Preparation on a Treadmill.
A good quality fitness club treadmill typically will go from a -3% downhill incline to a 15% uphill incline. Each mile completed at 15% produces 800 feet of ascending. So 1000 feet of climb for every 1.25 miles. A sustained training session would be 2.5 miles at 15% (2000 feet climbing) followed by 2.5 miles at -3% incline (400 feet descent). The uphill speed will be at a fast walk. Depending on your fitness this can be 3 to 5 mph. Unless you are an elite trail runner, you will be doing a lot of walking (power hiking) up the steep portions of the course. It is important to train your walking ability and focus on keeping a purposeful pace when walking. If you have not specifically practiced walking fast, it is easy to degrade into a slow walk or saunter. Walking slow can chew up a lot of time.
The downhill speed will be twice the uphill speed.
Example Minimum Treadmill Hill Training Session
I like to build up to a training session that consists of walking uphill for 2.5 miles at 4.3 MPH (14:00 per mile) 15% incline. This is immediately followed by running downhill for 2.5 miles at 8.6 MPH (7:00 per mile) -3% decline. Total mileage is 5. Ascent is 2000 feet. Descent is 400 feet. Elapsed time is 42:30 (35:00 walking uphill, 17:30 running downhill).
If the treadmill you do not have access to does not have downhill incline capabilities or go to at least 15% incline uphill, you can improvise to a certain extent by stacking some 2 X 6 boards under the front or back. Just be cognizant that this may put extra stress on the treadmill that it is not designed for. Be cautious of keeping the treadmill stable and safe.