Mountain Marmot: A steep and scenic Purgatory trail race

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 3:39 PM

Matthew Krichman, race director of the Steamworks Half Marathon, Turkey Trot and Thirsty Thirteen, has partnered with Durango Running Company owner Brett Sublett to create a trail race that will soon be on every runner’s bucket list.

The Mountain Marmot Trail Race will give runners a rare opportunity to experience the back-country trails at Purgatory Resort without snow cover and during the peak season for fall colors.

For Krichman, the idea came from years of skiing and biking the mountain and always wondering if he could run it.

“It’s naturally ingrained in runners to look at a mountain and think, ‘I wonder if I could run that,’” he said.

The course is approximately 11 miles long, featuring 60 percent single-track and the rest double-track dirt road. The race will give runners the opportunity to experience parts of the mountain that they probably haven’t seen before.

“I think with this little bit longer race, people are going to get to see what the mountain has to offer,” Sublett said. “The views and the scenery are just outstanding.”

Krichman is known for his ability to put together well supported races that leave runners and volunteers feeling happy and looking forward to returning.

“Anybody who has run a race that I have put on knows that my target audience is the middle of the pack runner who wants to have a little bit of a challenge,” Krichman said. “There’s this demographic I’m hoping to reach, that runner who has the half marathon distance already in them and for whatever reason is a little hesitant about trail running.”

This race provides runners with beautiful scenery on non-technical trails and a remote feel while simultaneously offering the comfort of landmarks that will orient toward the finish at the base of the mountain.

There is 1,900 feet of elevation gain in the 6½ miles of climbing that will take runners all the way up to Chair 8 before winding back down on more gradual smooth single-track with a chance to enjoy the views and changing fall colors.

“For anyone who has been thinking about trail running but may feel intimidated getting out there on their own or who has checked off the half marathon on their bucket list and is looking for more of a challenge, this is a really welcoming environment,” Sublett said. “It’s a good way to dip your toe into trail racing.”

We are fortunate here in Durango to have miles and miles of trails right out the door that provide ample opportunity to train for an event of this nature. Animas Mountain and the Colorado Trail are just two of the many that provide the climbing training needed for this event.

“Just get some sustained climbing in, which isn’t hard to do here,” Sublett said. “That’s going to translate well to the course.”

Runners will be rewarded for their efforts with an awesome after-party which includes full access to the Durango Mountain Club pool and hot tub, breakfast burritos, drinks and live music in addition to a shirt and unique finishers medal.

Race day is Saturday, Sept. 24th and is expected to sell out, so early registration is recommended. For more information, check out the race website at:

Reach Marjorie Brinton at