High Altitude Training

“We had a vision to be able to change U.S. distance running by coming here,” Meb Keflezighi told the LA Times in 2012. “And the vision came true. This was a distance runner’s heaven.”

While some individuals and groups currently utilize Mammoth Lakes for high altitude training, our town has enormous untapped potential in this area. Examples of other locales that have successfully branded themselves as high altitude training sites include Colorado Springs and Flagstaff. Colorado Springs (elevation 6,035 feet), home to the largest of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s training facilities, has established itself as a mecca for athletes looking to take their skills to world-class levels. Northern Arizona University’s Wall Aquatic Center in Flagstaff (elevation 6,903 feet) draws swimmers from all over the world for high altitude training. Both of these locations offer coordinated services to athletes who wish to train at their facilities.

High Sierra Fall Century

In addition to warm-weather sports such as running and cycling, Mammoth Lakes has the potential to establish itself as an ideal training venue for winter sports such as Nordic skiing and biathlon.

How Do We Get There?

Public Relations Outreach

We believe a coordinated public relations effort is required to effectively build our brand as a high altitude training center. Testimonials from Olympic and world-class athletes associated with our town should be a cornerstone of all outreach efforts. A well-planned public relations campaign targeting high schools, colleges and universities, and clubs is the first step in the process. Those efforts should be planned and implemented through a single agency to ensure strong and consistent messaging.

Training Facilities

Mammoth Winter Biathlon

Mammoth Winter Biathlon

In addition to our roads and trails, a state-of-the-art training/recreation facility would be required. The facility we envision would not only serve athletes in training, but also the broader community. Components should include a 50-meter pool, a track, weight-training rooms, media and meeting rooms, and a Jacuzzi/massage area. Incline Village, a peer town, built a facility similar to the one we envision with Business Improvement District dollars.

Building Mammoth Lakes’ reputation as a center for biathlon training would require a shooting range and adjacent Nordic skiing course. Although an in-depth study of possible sites was completed at one point, little progress has been made, largely due to the fact that potential sites fall under USFS jurisdiction.

Hospitality

Colorado Springs Training Center by the Numbers

Colorado Springs Training Center by the Numbers

We believe current housing is adequate to meet the needs of athletes coming to train in our high-altitude environment but could be improved. Partnerships should be built with hotels and motels to offer discounted rooms for short-term stays. Single-family homes could be utilized for long-term stays, an entire summer, for example.

Other locales that draw high altitude athletes offer a full range of services to assist with housing, meals, and transportation. Bringing athletes to town is not enough; concierge-type services must be available to make training in Mammoth Lakes both practical and appealing.

References

Incline Recreation Center

USOC Training Center—Colorado Springs

Wall Aquatic Center—Northern Arizona University

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