This is a mountain race in the truest sense of the term, with extended periods of high alpine ridge running, two alpine peaks and four alpine lakes visited along the way. When above timberline, you'll enjoy huge views of the northern Never Summer Mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park to the south, expansive vistas across North Park to the Park Range to the west, and even north out to Wyoming's Snowy Range.
The race covers a huge variety of terrain, from cross country, jeep and logging roads, to bomber alpine trail, and pretty much everything in between. You'll cross meadows and streams, you'll wade through mud up to your shins, you'll negotiate boulder fields, and you'll enjoy some of the rawest trail running Colorado has to offer. Expect to see moose, elk and maybe some bighorn sheep through the course of your run.
Runners head SE on 2-track towards Seven Utes Mountain (11,453'), summitting six miles in.
From Seven Utes, the route crosses a short saddle to Silver Creek Trail which traverses the shoulder of Braddock Peak before dropping into Lake Agnes under Mt Mahler and Mt Richthofen, at 10,700'. You'll follow the N shoreline of Lake Agnes before dropping down to Michigan Ditch
service road directly below Nokhu Crags on a short scree trail. The Michigan Ditch
Road will take runners around the NE ridge of Nokhu Crags to the 1st aid (Michigan Ditch
, Mile 11.4) at American Lakes Trail
. From the aid , runners go up to American Lakes (11,200') on the back of the Crags. Runners will drop down and cross the Michigan Ditch
following American Lakes Trail
past the TH onto the dirt service road to the Seven Utes trail where runners take a left to Diamond aid (Mile 18.3).
From the aid, runners will cross Highway 14 and access the Diamond Peaks Trail
via the Bockman Rd entrance off Highway 14. Follow Diamond Peaks Trail
up for 1.6 miles before ascending (right turn) to North Diamond Peak
(11,850'), the high point on the course. From North Diamond summit, you'll follow the ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains on faint trail for about 2.5 miles, passing Montgomery aid (Mile 23.2) at treeline before dropping west off the ridge on the Montgomery Pass 4WD Road.
Next, turn onto the Yurt contour trail at 9,600', approximately 2 miles down the hill.
Then follow the Yurt Trail
for about 3 miles. The trail passes through a number of clear cuts and is not always obvious, but will be marked race day. After, the Yurt Trail
connects with the Ruby Jewel 4WD access road which runners take to Ruby Jewel aid (Mile 29.4) at the Clark Peak Yurt. From the aid, runners continue up Ruby Jewel Rd for a mile to the 4WD trailhead, then follow the trail towards Clark Peak for two miles before turning north onto the Hidden Valley Trail
. Now back up to Hidden Valley (11,200'), then to Kelly Lake. From the lake, follow Kelly Creek through a mix of pine & aspen.
A new Kelly Lake cut-off trail turns you N just before you reach the clear cut portion of the Kelly Lake trail (3 miles from the Kelly Lake camping area), delivering you to Clear Lake Road and Clear Lake aid on 0.6mi of wooded singletrack. After taking a right on the road, it is a mile to the Clear Lake Trail
. Take a right and complete the 4.4 mile out and back to Clear Lake before returning to Clear Lake aid.
After Clear Lake, at 45 miles and over 10k feet into your day, most climbing will be done. From the aid, follow the logging road W for two miles (making sure to keep right at a Y in the road after ~½ a mile). Turn south (left) at the junction with the northern perimeter trail where you'll be treated to huge views of the mileage you've already accomplished, both in the Medicine Bow and Never Summer Mountains.
Your trek south back to the finish will parallel the Medicine Bow Range in the valley below, beginning on a mix of singletrack and doubletrack bordered with vibrant flowers at the 8,500' low point on the course. At Canadian aid (Mile 49.8), you'll connect with the N section of the Yurt Trail
across rough pasture and through pine forest to Ruby Jewel Road
Make a right on the Ruby Jewel Road
to connect with Lumberjack trail where you'll make a left at the green gate and then traverse through a large meadow to Bockman road crossing and final full aid station (Mile 55.6) and final crew location. The last climb is a slow grind up to the Gould Mountain saddle on a mix of forest road and rough logging roads. The final descent from the saddle will bring you out to the limited Ranger Lakes aid station (Mile 58.8) and Highway 14, which must be crossed by the Ranger Lakes Campground before the final two miles of manicured trail into the finish.
Make no mistake, this is a tough course, but with perseverance and a steady head you'll get it done, and we can't wait to see that happen!