With a touch of the trailhead sign and a push of a button on her GPS watch, Golden’s Courtney Dauwalter stepped foot on the Colorado Trail at 2 p.m. Wednesday and departed Durango.
Dauwalter is en route to Denver on the 485-mile Colorado Trail. She will attempt to beat the supported record going from west to east of 8 days, 30 minutes set by Bryan Williams in 2017. The women’s fastest-known time (FKT) was set by Betsy Kalmeyer in 2003, as she completed it in 9 days, 10 hours, 52 minutes.
Dauwalter, 35, is one of the top ultrarunners in the world. Last year, she won the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc to back up nine wins in 12 events in 2018, including the Western States Endurance Run in California. The Tailwind Nutrition and Salomon sponsored athlete had gained entrance into the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run for 2019, but the event has been canceled each of the last two years. She will look to make her Hardrock 100 debut in 2021.
With no Hardrock, or any other races, this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dauwalter and Durango’s Maggie Guterl were going to target an FKT attempt of the Nolan’s 14, a challenge that connects 14 summits of Colorado’s famed fourteeners. But Guterl sustained an injury this summer.
Now, Guterl is part of the support team that will try to help Dauwalter reach the end of the Colorado Trail in Denver before 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13.
“I’m excited to have the chance to test myself on a new distance and to explore more of beautiful Colorado with my feet,” Dauwalter said in a news release.
Dauwalter’s husband Kevin Schmidt, is among the support crew, as is U.S. trail running star Jamil Coury and iRunFar.com managing editor Meghan Hicks. She will receive aid during various stops along the route. While on the trail, she will carry her own food and water along with some trail essentials. At rest stops, she will have more food and hydration provided by her crew.
Fans can follow Dauwalter’s GPS tracking online. She completed the first 100 miles in 24 hours. By 8 p.m. Thursday, 30 hours into her attempt, Dauwalter was moving well and was already well ahead of the point she needed to cross for the FKT pace for Day 2.
Also on the Colorado Trail, going from east to west, Andre Michaud is in an attempt to break Joe Grant’s supported FKT record going in that direction. That record is 8 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes. Last summer Michaud set the self-supported FKT on the trail going west from Denver to Durango in 8 days, 23 hours, 16 minutes. At 8 p.m. Thursday, Michaud was between Peak 5 and Peak 6 west of Breckenridge.
“Who knows what will happen, but maybe it’ll work,” Michaud said.