Rocky Mountain High
The TransRockies Run through Colorado is no ordinary romp in the park: Participants climb a total of nearly 25,000 feet (7,500m) in elevation over 5 days while averaging 22 miles (35km) each day. The course takes runners through 110 miles (177km) of backcountry trails—most of the course is off-road—and runners can expect to endure the full gamut of Rocky Mountain extreme conditions, including freak snowstorms, torrential rains, thin mountain air, searing heat waves, and below-freezing nighttime temperatures, with the occasional bear, skunk, or mountain lion thrown in. The payoff? Spectacular mountain vistas, great group camaraderie, and the sense of achievement that comes from finishing one of the most well-organized and best-supported running events in the U.S.
The race has six legs, each of which ends in a campsite set up for runners so that at the end of the day they can simply kick off their dirty, well-worn shoes and relax. The route goes through a few small towns as well as through the White River and San Isabel National Forests, crossing countless streams, valleys, and ridgelines along the way. It’s mostly single-track trail running with a few paved trails in between, and plenty of long downhill sections as well as some slow, grinding uphills.
The event has a well-deserved reputation for supporting runners. In addition to plenty of rest and refreshment stops, there are also catered meals, massage and physical therapists, hot showers, lots of great schwag gifts, and evening celebrations including awards ceremonies and video presentations of the day’s run.
Modeled after the TransAlpine running event in Europe, the TransRockies Run has one unusual aspect that makes it a standout among races: It’s a two-person team affair, so participants—who usually must endure the loneliness of the long-distance runner—get more of a group experience from a partner who’s there when they need some encouragement, a swift kick in the butt, or just someone to celebrate with at the end of a grueling day.—ML
TransRockies Run ( 866/373-3376; www.transrockies.com).
When to Go: Aug or Sept; check website for exact dates.
Central Colorado Regional Airport, Buena Vista.