Think your last race was steep? Does your favorite trail have some tough sections? Check out this Course Profile:
Yes, we get reports back from Europe about how technical their races are compared with our gentle forest paths and dirt roads, and American trail runners tend to fare poorly when they fly over the pond, from the late 70’s when Rick Trulillo ventured to Davos Switzerland, up to the American men (not women) getting schooled at the last two Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. Indeed, in Europe they call it “mountain running” instead of “trail running” for a reason. But lurking in America, land of the free, are some races that make the Jungfrau Marathon, the Sierre-Zinal, the Three Peaks race, or even the Dolomites SkyRace look like Kansas.
Organized by a local resident – you should be able to guess from where – this is a series of 4 races held every fall for the past 8 years. The clock starts at a trailhead, as the runners (all of whom are also climbers) bust up the trail, onto one of the local rock faces, which is climbed or scrambled to the top, followed by either a downclimb or a rappel off the backside, and then a blazing run back down to the start/finish. The downhill running can be either managed with wild abandon, a measure of technical skill and attention, or some combination thereof, and is actually the most dangerous part of the event, although a second-degree burn caused by brushing up against your red-hot rappel device can be an unexpected mishap as well.
Standings are kept, course records are known and highly esteemed, and a fun, safe attitude is the rule. For example, switchback cutting is strictly forbidden – this might seem paradoxical given the nature of the event, but cutting switchbacks is bad for the environment and disrupts the honorable nature of this self-timed race.
It’s not for everyone … but then, what is?