By MIKE MALTAIS

The Angels Staircase, a rugged 60-kilometer race billed as one of the toughest and most remote high alpine running competitions in the Northwest, is coming up Aug. 11 and this time it includes a $4,500 kicker.

But not just anyone can compete for the prize money.

“Due to the remoteness and the difficulty of the 60k course, this can’t be your first rodeo,” cautions an advisory on www.rainshadowrunning.com, sponsor of the event. “Runners must qualify by completing at least two ‘mountain’ 50k races or longer prior to registering for the 60k.”

The prize money is being offered for the first time in the three-year history of the race and will be divided among the first six finishers: first-place male and female will each receive $1,000, second-place $500 apiece, third-place $250 each and $250 for first-place male and female masters runners.

“Seven Hills Running Shop is adding another $500 to the prize purse by sponsoring a $250 prime for the first male and female to reach the top of Angels Staircase and finish the 60k,” the website added recently.

Registration for the Staircase is now open on www.ultrasignup.com. Those who do qualify will be treated to one of the hardest yet most scenic races they’ve ever run.

The course starts at the 2,100-foot level at Foggy Dew Campground on Gold Creek Road. It climbs to 8,000 feet to the ridgeline that separates the Lake Chelan watershed from that of the Methow Valley. Aside from three miles of U.S. Forest Service dirt road, runners will not encounter another road, building or vehicle along the route.

Last year Alison (Hanks) Naney was the only local runner, male or female, to tackle the staircase. She ran the shorter but still imposing 35K course and crossed the line eighth among 49 finishers in just under 5 hours.