Narrow Gauge runs add trail option this year

This year will mark the 36th running of the Narrow Gauge 5-kilometer and 10-mile races. This historic icon of the Memorial Day weekend is the oldest footrace in Colorado and continues to draw participants from the local running community as well as many out-of-towners in Durango for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic weekend.

Two years ago, when the race start was moved to Animas Surgical Hospital, Dave Rakita suggested adding a trail run.

“I thought the trail run would appeal to a different crowd and that starting from ASH would be convenient,” Rakita said. “I felt that the road race had topped out, so when we were brainstorming ideas, I suggested a trail option as a way to expand the run.”

Narrow Gauge race director Matt Kelly also supported the idea of adding a trail option.

“The growth in popularity of trail running and the number of runners who only run on dirt was a big part of why we added the trail option,” Kelly said.

This year’s event has a cap of 100 runners per distance and as of this writing, still has openings for all.

“Right now, entries are ahead of last year, which is to be expected,” Kelly said. “We expect that in future years it will sell out.”

Once again, ASH is the title sponsor with a sizable donation going to the Marc Witkes Fort Lewis College Cross Country Scholarship.

“FLC cross country Coach Marc Dutro and the men’s and women’s cross country teams have been a great help in getting the trail run going,” Kelly said. “They will be providing most of the volunteers, cleaning up the course and manning the aid stations. It’s a great continuation to a partnership that includes Marc’s scholarship”

All three distances will be run on May 26, with the 15K trail run beginning at 7:30, the 10-mile road race at 8 and the 5K at 8:15 a.m.

The road-race courses will remain the same as last year with the 10-mile race beginning and ending at ASH, winding through downtown Durango and along the Animas River Trail, then climbing up to the college before descending back to ASH.

The 5K will go the opposite direction on Colorado Highway 3 and wind back along the river. The 15K trail run will use the old railroad grade behind ASH to access Horse Gulch, where the runners will ascend the Telegraph Trail and descend the Carbon Junction Trail before returning.

“Memorial Day weekend in Durango is a bike weekend; the Narrow Gauge is an active alternative for nonbikers,” Kelly said.

There also is a triathlon option for those ambitious few who will be competing in the Narrow Horse 1,500 meter swim, IHBC road race and the 10-mile run. Awards for this noteworthy undertaking will be distributed after the foot races that Sunday.

Registration information and forms can be found at www.active.com or at local running and outdoor equipment stores.

Come on out for a “memorable” weekend of racing.

Reach Marjorie Brinton at runswim55@gmail.com.

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