Much to offer

Dear Editor:

At 5 a.m. when my alarm went off on Saturday morning, I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I had volunteered to take photos at the Gecko Devil Mountain Ultra trail race, while my husband, Mike Hayward, did music for the Rollergirls’ food bank fund-raiser.

I poured coffee and headed out to Turkey Springs where I found runners gathered around a crackling campfire, sharing their excitement about the coming half-marathon trail race. The 50-mile and 50K runners had departed just a bit earlier while it was still dark, headlamps glowing to light their way.

As I made my way out to the end of E Monument Park Road to take the 1.2 mile uphill hike to the 23.5 mile and 43.5 mile aid station manned by the Trail Riders, one named Ken stopped to offer me a ride to the aid station. There, I found a lively group anxiously awaiting the first of the 50K and 50-mile runners. One had a cow bell to cheer them on and another was taking photos as they ran down the trail leading in to the rest stop. The rest had laid out all kinds of snacks and electrolytes and stood by waiting to quickly refill water bottles to sustain the runners as they continued the race.

I headed back down and drove over to Sally’s Overlook — the turnaround point for the 50-milers. Dickie of the Trail Riders gave me a ride back to my car. I don’t usually think of ATVs as compatible with trail runners, but this club had come out to support the race in a big way.

When I arrived at Sally’s Overlook, the 50-mile runners began to come one and two at a time. The looks on their faces as they were surprised by the incredible view was a treat. Each runner was required to go near the cliffs to pick up a copy of a book and tear out a page to prove that they had been there. After each had done so, I asked them to pose, showing how they felt at that moment. Even though it was 33.5 miles and many difficult climbs into the race, it was clear most were having the adventure of a lifetime.

Very few runners were locals. Runners were from Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, the Front Range and elsewhere. Each brought family or friends and stayed multiple nights. Those who had done the race before often brought other runners to experience the adventure. Even runners who had done events elsewhere said there was no other race like this one.

It occurred to me that the way we promote our town overlooks so much that is here for the active, rather than sedentary tourist. We have so much to offer — Nordic and skate skiing, trail running, biking, hiking, river running, camping, backpacking and hunting. Even motorized sports in the wilderness like snowmobiling and ATVs. Let’s get some of the local groups promoting these athletic adventures more heavily represented in the groups promoting our town.

Muriel Eason

This story was posted on October 10, 2012.