Silverton Ultra Marathon - 55k
ElevationAscent: 7,040' 2,146 m
Descent: -7,038' -2,145 m
High: 12,722' 3,878 m
Low: 8,932' 2,722 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 49% (26°)
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“Challenging 55-60k through the San Juans.”— Jason Doedderlein
Featured Race - Aug 8, 2020
The good: The views and scenery are top-notch. It is hard to find mountains more beautiful than the San Juans.
The bad: By far the most pretentiously ran race I've ever been part of. From the RD to several of the volunteers, I was was very surprised by the attitude, and I was apparently not alone in this. There were also some absolutely beautiful, wonderful people helping, which is more typical. However, if you are sensitive to attitude, this might not be the race for you. The second half of the race involves a lot of time on "trails" that are not really trails. If you are very sensitive to the impact you have on the environment during runs, this could be a point of frustr
Lot's of mud (at least this year, 2019).
Don't trip gawking at the views!
The race starts in Silverton in front of the Grand Imperial Hotel. The course heads through the town before hanging a left (~ 1.5 miles) onto a railroad line. You run on, and along, the railline through a canyon, along the Animas River. The views are beautiful and it provides a flat and fast start. At approximately 6.5 miles the course veers off of the tracks, across a bridge and the first climb (out of 2) commences.
This first climb is very gentle and gradual with some downhill stretches thrown in. The first aid station is about 5 miles into this climb at approximately 11.2 miles into the race. This is one of two aid stations with dropbags, for the 55k. The beginning of the climb is mostly in forested areas with some grand views. After the first aid station the course is mostly at or above treeline, offering some amazing views and a gorgeous wildflower display.
The climb becomes more exhausting as you climb higher and get closer to the second aid station at mile 22.
From Aid station 2 you drop quickly and it is a fast 3 miles to the next aid station at mile 25 (Bandera Mine). This is the second, and last, aid station with dropbags for the 55k. From Bandera Mine, you'll drop along a dirt road for a spell and will encounter several water crossings. You'll begin climbing gently, after the water crossings, on the road before taking a right to drop across the South Fork of Mineral Creek. It is at this point the real climbing begins for climb 2.
The "trail" is not a proper/designed trail. It generally goes straight up from the river. As such, it retains a lot of water, is very muddy and steep. The course quickly enters the forest, which is gorgeous when you can take a moment between gasps to appreciate it. There are a rapid series of short switchbacks through this section.
Eventually, the trail reaches treeline and the climbing continues for another 1000 vertical feet. This stretch will carry you to the ridge line. The views are spectacular. At this point, breath a sigh of relief.You are done with the major climbing. It is, literally, all downhill from here.
Approximately 2 miles after the ridge, right at treeline, the course goes through Aid Station number 6 (forth one on the 55k course). This is at about the 50k (31 mile) point. From here, it is a lovely 5 miles down through forest and across some rock fields to South Mineral Creek and Rt 550. You cross both and have about 2.25 miles left to run into town.
You'll start this final stretch by climbing the hillside across the road, before reaching a dirt road that runs along the power lines. You'll follow this dirt road, above 550, before eventually veering towards the left. The town will appear below and you'll have the feeling you might have missed something because it seems you are running past the town and the hotel/finish. At that point you'll see a trail winding down the hillside into town and you just have to run a bit further to access that trail. Once on that trail, it is a quick downhill into town and then a brief push for the last few hundred yards to cross the finish line.
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Land Manager: USFS - San Juan National Forest Office