…literally and figuratively.
The course will leave you breathless at the beauty and later cursing the lack of oxygen in the air. The volunteers will hug the air right out of your lungs and your throat will be sore from cheering everyone across the finish line. It’s an experience you won’t forget and whether you’re running or volunteering, this is a community that you can call family for the rest of your life.
Our inaugural running was in 2017, but we began the planning phase in back 2015. The brainchild of the Race Director, Caleb Efta, the race is organized by our team of Directors, each of whom is uniquely qualified for their role. We have two veteran ER doctors as our Medical Directors, both of whom are avid athletes. Our Course Director has a PhD and eleven 100-mile finishes. Our Volunteer Director is a professional project manager, 100-mile finisher and the community organizer for a local running group. The Aid Station Director is a food scientist, project manager, and ultra runner. Each one of our 13 aid station captains has finished a 100-mile race.
All in all, this is a race built by runners for runners.
The course is a gorgeous loop that uses large swaths of the Continental Divide and Colorado Trails. Two thirds of the race is on single-track, including a 20 mile continuous section from miles 76-96. New trail construction is actively taking place and in the next decade we should be able to remove 10 more miles of mining/gravel roads. The course gets expertly marked with over 1300 unique flags, signs, reflectors, and LED lights. The course is difficult enough to test a seasoned runner while still being attainable for a first time 100. This race isn’t about being a hard as it can be, it’s about running an organic and uncontrived route through gorgeous terrain. The Forest Service has capped the race to only 125 runners in order to maintain the trails and area’s remote qualities, which means when you get out there it can feel pretty lonely.
Luckily, we have 13 aid stations on the course staffed by experienced runners to help break up the loneliness and help you get through the race. Over 100 people volunteer each year, and many work multiple aid stations. The result is wonderful blend of excitement, enthusiasm, and experience. Where our race truly shines though is the finish line. It’s not big or super fancy, but it’s filled with people who are insanely stoked. Free beer and cocktails, food, and wide-open skies framed by 14,000 foot peaks make the finish chute an unforgettable experience.
Throughout the years of our race, we’ve placed a strong emphasis on conservation and stewardship. Each runner must do 8 hours of trail work or pay a $125 donation to Colorado Fourteeners Initiative – our main non-profit partner and the leader in new trail construction and trail maintenance in Colorado. Over two years we’ve raised $10,000 for them, a huge feat considering our low entrant cap. We use reusable course markings, recycle and compost aid station waste, and are a cupless race all in attempt to minimize the amount of negative impacts on the land. One unique element of the race is the “Toad Bath” which is a chemical shoe treatment that protects the endangered Boreal Toad. We love this land, and we want to pass on and share our love in a way that inspires people to help with it’s protection.
When we built this race, we wanted to build something amazing. We didn’t want to make just another race, we wanted to create something that would embody the best parts of our community, sport, and land. We’ve been helped by countless communities, by other race directors, by strangers on the trails and friends who fly out every year to volunteer. We’ve seen our community swell and witnessed life-long friendships being born. We’ve seen people push themselves to points they didn’t know they could reach, then dig even deeper and keep going.
The High Lonesome isn’t about making money, it’s not about prestige or fame. It’s about three simple ingredients:
People, mountains, and the simple art of running.
We’d encourage you to read more about the race. Read more about our team. Check out our value statement and read more about how we got started. Better yet, come join us. Whether you’re a long time runner or you haven’t run a step, you’re welcome in our family. Come see what makes our race special, and then help us make it even more so.