LIKE MOST GOOD STORIES, OURS STARTED WITH A RUN.
"I'm so tired of traveling for races, man. I don't get it, Colorado is awesome, why are most the Hardrock qualifiers out of state??" My complaint, one my running partner had heard numerous times at this point, was answered with a rueful shake of the head and an uptick in the pace...code for "let's run faster so you can't talk as much". Retreating back into my thoughts, I mulled over the idea. What if I started my own race, I wonder how much work it would be? I thought to myself. I soon dismissed the idea as excessive, but over the next few months, I'd often find myself thinking about this hypothetical race.
Fast forward one year.
It was a chilly, summer night in the Sawatch range of Colorado in the summer of 2015. I was sitting around a small campfire after a long training run. I remember looking up into the night sky, seeing the smoke from the fire mingle with the star-filled expanse of the Arkansas River Valley . I could just make out the looming skyline of the continental divide, and the low hum of the winds played counterpoint to the faint burble of a small stream.
It was one of those perfect nights, one of the many that I'd be lucky enough to experience in this range. This was the first place in Colorado I'd ever come, back when I was 11. The broad and soaring peaks here always seemed to have a special pull, drawing me back year after year.
I'd wanted to start my own race for a while, but after the years of running ultra marathons, I knew that the best races come out of the land. After almost two decades of coming to the Sawatch, I finally felt like I knew it well enough to create something. I looked at maps for a long time that night, piecing together features I loved, trying to find a 100 mile course for a truly spectacular long distance race in Colorado.
Over the following year, I'd pull maps out or pour over Google Earth. I’d head out for runs, checking out trails and verifying mileages and vert counts. A course began to take shape, and meetings with permitting agencies, non profits, other runners, even potential sponsors began to happen. I lost count of the number of hours I spent and beers I drank with friends getting their advice on things.
Slowly, sometimes painfully so, the race began to take shape.
The community responded, friends helped in so many ways, sponsors came on board, and even other race directors gave me hours of their time helping. I was blown away at the support, and it made me confident that we were on to something. Slowly but surely the dream began to manifest itself, and in the fall of 2016 we’d given it the name High Lonesome.
The creation process was always guided by a strong belief that how you get somewhere is just as important as getting there. We wanted to create a race that was true to the spirit of ultra running, that was in the same vein as Hardrock, Wasatch, Western States, the Bear, San Juan Solstice and others. We wanted our race to emulate the values and standards that these races had set, and then we wanted to add to and strengthen them.
Ultra running has been experiencing a boom over the last decade. It's made good races harder to get into, and it's caused some races to lose their way. We wanted to create something that would help us grow and preserve the values that attracted us to these sort of things in the first place.
We wanted to stop complaining about things and actually be a part of creating a solution.
I know these ideas are nebulous, but it's that sort of thinking that has always guided us here at the High Lonesome 100. We're always going to ask the hard questions, see the big picture, and pursue the long plans. We won't blindly chase bigger numbers, more sponsors, or faster times.
No, what we're about is seeing people dig deep. We're about humility and giving back. We're about big mountains and good dirt, green basins and fast streams. We're about good people and memories of a lifetime.
So if all that sounds like what you like, and what you value, then I encourage you to be a part of this event. Run it, volunteer for it, pace your friends, join our family. We know we're a young race, but we've got deep roots. Come help us make this the best race we can possibly be.
Race Director & Founder