Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hardrock Hundred Mile Trail Run Silverton

Trail Running on the Hardrock Hundred Mile Course, Silverton, Colorado

My wife and I were less than 48 hours away from our frontier road trip when I realized it. We were meeting up with her sister in Colorado and I was perusing the itinerary. On the way to Colorado, we would stay in Boise, Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then we’d all meet up in Grand Junction, Colorado. Ok, this is wine country, which is nice, but aside from a riverfront trail, there aren’t any publicized great running trails within running distance of the motel. What’s next? Silverton, Colo…

Silverton, Colorado! I was shocked. The tiny victorian mining town where the Hardrock 100 Trail Race starts and finishes every summer – was this really that place? A quick review of our reservations and I realized that it was indeed that very place. No, we wouldn’t be there the same weekend as the race, but we would be there within 3 weeks of the race finishing. There was never a more pleasant surprise than realizing that we would be staying just a couple blocks from the start/finish line.

Just a few weeks before, Killian Jornet and Anna Frost had set course records here. Granted, I wouldn’t be there for all the excitement of the race, but there was another bonus. I was going to get to run on portions of the Hardrock 100 course. I looked up several maps and put together a Garmin GPS map for my Fenix 3. I got the lay of the land online and mentally ran the course over and over. This was going to be fun. I wasn’t going 100 miles. My wife and I would probably only put in 5 miles or so, but it isn’t every day you get to run in the footsteps of legends.

We drove into town from the north end and stopped at an overlook to check out the old mining facilities. We saw tons of deer on the way into town, so if you decide to visit, drive carefully. The steep drop-offs on the side of the highway don’t look like any picnic either.

Silverton Hardrock Trail Run Blair Street

We stayed at a little motel above a bar called The Bent Elbow. Supposedly, this place used to be a brothel. It was actually very cozy and had a patio with a great view of Notorious Blair Street, formerly known mostly for gambling, booze, and prostitution. Only one street in town is paved and the place has a great feel. We must have visited every bar and restaurant in town in the one night we passed through. At some point in the early evening, while we were wandering around, I spotted it. THE Hardrock.

Hardrock 100 Mile Trail Run Silverton Colorado

Fully geeked out and prepared, my wife and I left early on a Thursday morning to adventure on the trail. Just getting out of town was difficult. The town is in a valley, so even though the runners reverse clockwise and counter-clockwise every other year, there’s still a brutal ascent in the first mile, no matter what direction they go. We made it up the single-track trail, almost as high as the miner’s memorial, and then dipped onto an area with fewer brutal elevation changes. There were still some flares up from the race, which helped us a bit with navigation.

We started out on dirt and gravel road and wound up on dirt double-track. Eventually, this became single-track and we emerged from the forest into an unbelievable expanse of huge, orange and red rocks. The footing was tricky, but fun, and we had a great time running through the low-hanging clouds and generally blasting along on terrain the likes of which we had never experienced.

Before too long, we turned around and headed back to town. We had to meet up with the rest of our traveling party for breakfast and the drive down to Durango. We would still travel out to Mesa Verde on this day. We packed a ton into this short trip to this tiny town, but we would do it all over again.

Silverton stuck with me after this trip. Whether I ever get the opportunity to run the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Race or not, I hope to return to Silverton any time I pass through this area. And someday, I’m going to take advantage of that Durango-Silverton steam train too!

Check out some footage from our run below.

Jenny Lake Grand Teton Trail Running

Trail Running in the Shadow of the Grand Tetons

A while back, I read a book called The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton. I picked up some great running and training tips, was inspired to re-read Born to Run, and enjoyed the personal tone and feel of the writing. But the biggest takeaway from this book, was a desire to visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Every time I tried to tell my wife or anybody else about Jackson, I received blank stares. Wyoming is probably the least visited state in the country. Nobody seems to know anything about it at all. After reading The Cool Impossible, I knew exactly what I would find there: a wonderland of hiking and running trails, horseback riding, pleasant people and tons of wildlife. My wife and I were already planning a trip to Colorado to meet up with her sister. I talked her into adding Jackson Hole to the itinerary.

We actually stayed in Teton Village, just to the south of Grand Teton National Park. From our AirBnB, it was a quick drive to the entrance of the park, followed by another short drive through the park to Jenny Lake. After stopping to watch a herd of elk cross the road for a few minutes, we made it safely to our destination.

There’s really very little that I can say about this run. Low elevation gain, easy single and double track all the way around. The lake itself is spectacular. The mountains surrounding it are awesome. The waterfalls around it are a great bonus. I can’t explain it to you. You need to see it for yourself. Everybody should. But go early and try to go on a weekday if possible. This can be a crowded trail later in the day and on weekends. We were fortunate to be some of the first people on the trail and didn’t run into much traffic. See our course GPS below and feel free to download it for your own Wyoming adventure.

And check out the video below to see some beautiful shots from the run.

Trail Running Boise, Table Rock

Running in Boise, Idaho

I can’t tell you what I used to think of when I heard someone talk about Boise, Idaho. I never knew much, to be honest. Recently, my wife and I took a road trip that circled through 6 high west frontier states. On night one, we pulled into our hotel in Boise somewhere around 11pm. We didn’t really see too much on the way into town. We were mostly concerned with getting to the hotel, enjoying a beer in the room, and turning in for the night. Other than a run scheduled for first thing in the morning, Boise was merely a pit stop for the larger trip. I pointed out a gigantic lighted cross way up in the hills on the outskirts of town and jokingly told my wife that’s where our run would take us in the morning. She didn’t think it was funny at all and with my pride somewhat bruised, we drifted off to sleep.

At first light, we grabbed our running gear and headed for our starting point, about half a mile from the hotel. We stayed directly on the Boise River, which splits through town. We would start running on the multi-use path that follows the river and end at the top of Table Rock, then return for a total of around 8 miles.

My wife and I enjoy watching college football, but we’re not super fans. Whenever we see Boise State’s blue field on television, we yell “blue rug!” We don’t have any affiliations with the school or know anything about it, really, other than the fact that they play on a crazy blue and orange field. I had a hunch my wife wasn’t aware how close we were to the university and as we approached our starting point, she saw the stadium and realized what we were walking toward. “Blue rug!” We walked to the stadium and snapped some photos. We started running on the path directly in front of the stadium.

The first 2.5 miles of the run were spent on concrete and asphalt multi-use path as we winded along the river. Soon we arrived at the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, which is now a museum and garden. The penitentiary also marks the beginning of the non-paved trail to the top of Table Rock. There are tons of trails on Table Rock, but we chose to take the #15A Old Pen Trail to the #15 Table Rock Trail. Somewhere around mile 3, we realized two things:

  1. The elevation estimate I got from Garmin was totally inaccurate and we would be climbing many more feet than we thought
  2. That giant lighted cross was sitting at the top of Table Rock

There was a surprising amount of foot traffic on the trail, but we slowly made our way up. With my wife cursing me frequently throughout the run, I paused occasionally to sneak peeks of the view of downtown Boise. I could see our hotel and, right next door, the Boise Color Run kicking off in a cloud of multi-colored effervescence. We arrived at the summit finally and soaked in the views. After 899 feet of elevation gain, we were ready to take in some nutrition and rest for a few moments. We originally anticipated the run to end in an hour and thirty minutes. In total, we spent 1:52:47 in motion.

We started down the trail and moved at a great clip. Surprisingly, we ran into more traffic on the way up than on the way down, so we were able to really make up some time. As usual, running proved to be a great way to enjoy the city of Boise. Now, when I think of Boise, I’ll picture a city that blends with nature. The river winds through it and it’s seemingly surrounded by protected wild lands. From the river to Table Rock, to watching firefighting airplanes take off to aid in the effort against rampant forest fires, we never once got bored on this run. The Strava course GPS is below in case you want to experience this run in person the next time you’re in Boise.

And check out some photos and GoPro footage from the run in the YouTube video below.