Indiana transplant Tami Hanson offers some motivational advice for anyone considering doing the Imogene Pass Run for the first time.
“Signing up is 25 percent of the battle,” Hanson said. “And if you’re goal-oriented, Imogene is a great way to have something set in front of you that, if you don’t train, you will have a difficult time on race day.”
Hanson completed the 17.1-mile race from Ouray to Telluride for the first time last month. It is held annually the first Saturday after Labor Day.
“Entering Imogene helped me understand what this community has to offer, especially the trail system, and got me out and motivated to run those trails,” she said. “It helped me understand what I was to be as a runner and what I was to become in the future.”
Durangoan Suzy Phare had a different reason for signing up for the challenge of running over a 13,114-foot pass.
“I needed a goal to work toward before I turned 40,” Phare said. “Completing Imogene was on my bucket list and seemed like a great goal that would push me way outside my comfort zone.”
Phare does not consider herself a runner but trained by running three or four times per week and climbing some high peaks in Colorado.
“I climbed Mount Princeton, Kendall Mountain and Handies,” she said. “Prior to training, I had never climbed a Fourteener.”
Jennifer Bearden began running in 2012 and jumped right into distance racing with the 2012 Durango Double and the Canyonlands Half Marathon.
“My friend Patti Snodgrass and I put Imogene on our list of races to do, and she made sure I signed up, so I guess peer pressure got me into it,” Snodgrass said.
Bearden credits her running friends at local running club Durango Motorless Transit with pulling her through.
“My running partners were all very helpful and inspirational,” she said. “Without them, I would have quit running a long time ago.”
After years of on-and-off running dotted with injuries, Snodgrass read Born to Run and was inspired to begin running again.
“I slowly started building up miles. When I was able to run five miles with no knee pain, I decided to set a big goal for myself,” she said. “Training for Imogene was a lot more fun than marathon training, as I went up in the high country with my running buddies. All of those long weekend runs had beautiful scenery and brought me peace.”
The emotional response to this accomplishment took some of these women by surprise.
“Tears would flow when I would summit a Fourteener, usually surprising and taking me over,” Phare said. “When you are on top of the world and have worked so hard to get there both physically and emotionally, you feel a connection to yourself and that beauty around you that is indescribably powerful.”
Said Hanson: “When I made it to the top of Imogene at mile 10, I started crying. I didn’t expect that emotion. I guess I just had to feel that elation and accomplishment, pain and suffering, and I was nervous about making it through the rest of the race.”
A friend commented to Bearden that running is a real head game.
“I agree,” she said. “This race helped me beat my head and made me feel like I really am a runner.”
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.