Telluride Mountain Run 24M
Telluride, Colorado

9000' Elevation Gain

August 28, 2021 - The 24 Mile course starts at the Oak Street Plaza in Telluride (base of the Gondola) and ends in the Telluride Town Park. There are sections of this course that are extremely technical, steep and loose. THIS IS A TECHNICAL MOUNTAIN RACE, NOT A TRAIL RUN - participants will be running to altitudes of over 13,000 ft on exposed ridgelines and steep, rocky summits. The trails are extremely rocky and at times there are no trails at all. There are many sections of this course that will be exposed to falls, potential rockfall and hazardous weather. There will be safety personnel along sections of the route monitoring these hazards but all participants should be responsible for their own safety. THIS IS NOT AN EVENT FOR BEGINNERS. Nice course description, eh! Why wouldn't I want to run this!

It was a fine day to be in Telluride once again. I love this little mountain town. Any excuse to return to Telluride is a good one. I was looking forward to the awesome climbing up over 13K as well as the pounding on the way back down. It is a great place to be up close and personal with magical high places without having to give up the comforts and amenities of a cultured bohemian lifestyle.

At 41 degrees at 0530, the twenty-four milers headed out from the base of the Gondola in an enthusiastic stream of bobbing lights. Ya gotta love mountain people. We got onto a catwalk pointed up the ski resort right away. I've got a bungled knee from an ACL injury, and I'm old (let's face it), so I started conservatively 'cause that's the best I can do these days!!! Nonetheless, there were plenty of bobbing lights behind me as we switched back and forth a couple of times. I got into queue with perhaps eight others of similar ability and we patiently moved up together, trading position according to our varying strengths.

It seemed like we were managing at least a three-mile-per-hour power hike along with occasional opportunities to run a bit on the level sections. I figured we could make the high point at Wasatch Pass above 13,000 feet with over 4000 feet of climbing in a bit over six miles in about two hours at the rate of our progress. Despite not letting up or stopping to rest it seemed like it was taking forever to top out, however. It was a bit of a shock to me that it took 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach the top. I even passed every one in my group with no one in sight behind me, or in front.

Once the trail pointed downhill I continued to move away from those behind with careful attention to foot placement so as not to stumble and fall. I've gotten better about not falling with a more conservative approach. With that, it took an hour and a half to float down to the first aid station near the old Bridal Veil Falls power station at 11 miles. I felt alright, running well within myself, but fully expected to reach this point at least an hour sooner. The Ole Grey Lar just ain't what he used to be, is all I gotta say.

My knee was a bit tender from hammering the steep descent in places. Figuring I had had enough fun for the day, I purposefully stopped, well within time limits, so as not to push myself over the edge. I am better at recognizing my limits than I used to be, and less proud about pulling the plug to decide when enough is enough.

From the aid station I jogged back to town for about four miles on mining access roads and trails I had previously used to return to the finish line, and then head out of Telluride before the morning was over, to set myself up for climbing the next day. I missed out on the climb up to Ajax and on running over Imogene Pass befor the long run down on Tomboy Road, but I'll save those for another day. It was just super special running in the high places above town on a perfect day - without a fall or getting exhausted. I'll be back!

Course Description:

Section 1- Telluride to Bridal Veil: Leave Oak Street Plaza and head south across the bridge and onto the Ski Area. Follow Telluride Trail up for .5 miles and take a left onto the Camels Garden Trail. After .5 miles, the Camels Garden Trail will intersect the Bear Creek Trail, take a right turn, follow the double track up for 2 miles to the Wasatch Trail intersection. Take a right turn up the Wasatch Trail and continue for 1 mile and veer left onto the East Fork Trail. Follow the East Fork Bear Creek Trail up for 1.2 miles where the trail will merge with the Wasatch Trail. Continue up and left for 1.5 miles to Wasatch Pass. From Wasatch Pass head down and left on a faint two track road marked with large rock cairns. After .8 miles on this road it will trend left into La Junta Basin- do not go this way! Instead, turn right and head down the grassy slopes, following small rock cairns to the Bridal Veil Road that can be seen below. Follow the Bridal Veil Road down for 3.5 miles to the Bridal Veil Aid Station- mile 11.

Section 2- Bridal Veil to Imogene: From the Bridal Veil Aid Station continue up the Black Bear Pass Road switchbacks for 1.2 miles before taking a left turn onto the Ajax Peak Trail. This will be shortly after a steep rock step in the road following the river crossing above Ingram Falls. Follow the Ajax Trail for 1.5 miles of switchbacks to the ridge. From the ridge continue up and right on rocky terrain for .3 miles to the summit of Peak 13,230. From the summit of Peak 13,230, turn left (east) and follow the high ridge for 1.5 miles, passing over the summit of Telluride Peak (13,509'), to the Imogene Pass Aid Station at 13,200'- mile 15.5. *Note-The route more or less follows the direct ridgeline with a few deviations dropping off to the right side for less technical terrain. There are sections of this ridge that a very loose so please take your time and be aware of others below you. It is also very exposed to weather so please use your best judgement on whether or not to proceed if storms appear to be moving in- this 1.5 miles will be very slow for some.

Section 3- Imogene to Liberty Bell: From the Imogene Pass Aid Station head down Tomboy Road for 2.5 miles and take a right turn on the Marshall Basin Road - this will appear shortly after you exit the old Tomboy town ruins. Follow the Marshall Basin Road to the upper mining ruins and continue up grassy slopes to the right until you are able to regain a single track trail heading back left towards Mendota Pass - 2.2 miles from the start of the road. *Note- If you continue up and right on this single track, instead of left, it will take you to Virginius Pass- do not go this way! Head down the steep loose trail from Mendota Pass. Once back on the tundra the trail will fork, take the faint trail to the right which will send you to the Liberty Bell Trail. From Mendota Pass, it is 2.6 miles to the Liberty Bell Aid Station- mile 22

Section 4- Liberty Bell to Telluride Town Park: From the Liberty Bell Aid Station, continue South down the Jud Wiebie Trail doubletrack towards Tomboy Road. *Note- if you turn right (west) onto the Jud Wiebie Trail single track you will drastically extend your race.

After 1 mile, take a right turn on Tomboy Road and run until you intersect pavement on Oak Street. Descend Oak Street one block and take a left (east) turn on Galena. Run 4 blocks on Galena Street and turn right (south) on Willow Street. Run three blocks south, be careful crossing Main Street. Turn left on Pacific Street, right next to the post office, and enter Town Park. Follow signs to Finish Line!