The one thing we can count on in the mountains is changing weather patterns that happen very quickly and sometimes catch you unprepared.
A week ago, I had the pleasure of running the Mountain Marmot trail race sponsored by Durango Running Company and Darn Tough.
Hosted and held at Purgatory Resort, this was the second year for this epic event, and it delivered exciting weather and challenging terrain, keeping all the competitors alert and energized.
With seven miles of mostly continuous uphill, the race follows beautiful single track through the woods and meadows of the resort ascending to a short out-and-back at the top of Lift 8 on the backside of the mountain. It then descends along a circuitous route with some smooth gravel road finishing on single track for the final three miles.
Under the best of conditions, this is a tough race, but the weather that roiled above and on us made it all the more exciting, occasionally turning the trails into rivers of mud.
Within the first mile, we were greeted with a fierce but short-lived thunder and lightening storm complete with wind, rain and hail. At this point, many runners opted to turn around and head back to the lodge.
The majority continued on undaunted, recognizing that conditions could change momentarily and finding comfort under the trees and in being at the bottom of the mountain.
Things settled down again, although frequently throughout the race there would be blasts of wind, rain and of course more hail; this is the mountains, after all.
I absolutely loved this race; it offered the right amount of challenge and a nice mix of terrain with soft footing, beautiful views and awesome people.
Race Director Matthew Krichman continues to perfect his skills at creating, organizing and managing awesome local events.
He was thorough in explaining the course and informing us of safety measures in the event of severe weather; every precaution was taken to make this event safe and enjoyable for all.
I admire his openness in seeking input from competitors, always looking for ways to improve his races and meet the needs and desires of the runners.
At the finish line, he was handing out medals, cheering everyone on and seeking input about our experience.
“It was truly inspiring to see these athletes conquer the mountain in such tough weather conditions,” he said. “I kept thinking, ‘What are you people smiling about? You’ve been running through rain and hail for the past two hours.’ That’s the great thing about runners, they seem to enjoy a little suffering and always have a great attitude.”
The after party and awards were also top notch with beverages, breakfast burritos and a live band in the Lodge at Purgatory. No detail was left unfinished, and the field of runners was impressive especially given the race conditions.
Durango has an amazing amount of talented athletes and especially among the over-40 crowd.
The top female and male finishers were: Kathryn Ross (f 20-29) 1:31:40 and Morgan Galvin (m 20-29) 1:32:17.
The age group winners were: Jenn Maley (f 30-39) 1:46:55, Shawn Goedken (m 30-39) 1:35:14, Krista Scott (f 40-49) 1:57:04, Steven Fenster (m 40-49) 1:35:37, Christine Knight (f 50-59) 2:28:58, Vic Rudolph (m 50-59) 1:49.09, Marjorie Brinton (f 60-69) 2:35:15, Robert Giebitz (m 60-69) 2:03:26 and Glen Walker (m 70+) 3:22:56.
Next year’s event promises to be even bigger and of course, come prepared for anything because that’s what makes mountain running an adventure.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.