Telluride Mountain Run Newsletter #1

[Author’s Excuse: Hello iRunFar readers. You may or may not be aware that I am helping to direct a competitive running event in Telluride, Colorado next August. As part of our ongoing promotion efforts we have taken to writing infrequent newsletters to inform people who are interested in what’s going on with the race. And although I understand that posting it on iRunFar seems like shameless self-promotion (and it is), I genuinely believe that it falls in line with the website’s regular content. Also, you’re all going to want to run it. And Bryon Powell is going to cover it (Did you know that Bryon?).]

Telluride Mountain RunHello! And welcome to T-Rad newsletter number one. As race directors our lives are consumed with our race, and we naturally assume everyone else is just as concerned with how the race is coming together as we are. To that end we’re determined to send out newsletters at a frequency just below “unsubscribe” but just above “appropriate.” Now, to business.

Probably the biggest immediate news is that we added about ten miles to the course. This was done because it’s awesome. So now the course is going to be around 55 miles. The Telluride Mountain Run will be held for the first time on August 10, 2013… assuming all our permits come together. We don’t actually have the permits in hand yet, so there’s a certain likelihood that the race won’t happen at all. Fortunately, all reports, conversations, and federal lobbyists indicate that the race will take place just fine, but we definitely want to be clear up front that this is not 100% certain yet. But it’s like 99% certain, so relax.

Now stop relaxing! If you’re going to run T-rad you’ll need to be in the best shape of your life. The course is going to be roughly fifty-five miles long, with upwards of 20,000 ft. of climbing. It will pass through several ecosystems, but the majority is in the alpine zone, just below treeline and often far above. The course consists of some dirt roads, lots of singletrack trail, and a few good stretches of no trail at all. This means that you’ll need the wherewithal to travel for long hours through serious mountain terrain, in good weather and in bad. For those of you who will be pushing the cutoffs, you’ll most likely run a few hours in the dark. And no matter how well we mark the course (which will be very well), you may still get lost. This means you are taking on a significant amount of risk if you aren’t prepared, and the possibility of injury or even death is always present. We want everybody to be safe, so in our first newsletter we’re making a point to stress the importance of being an experienced mountain runner. This is not a good first ultra – it’s a graduate-level run that will challenge even the most hardened veterans.

In our quest to be transparent about our processes, the following are our stated priorities, in distinct order:

  1. To provide an exciting, challenging, and beautiful course in the mountains.
  2. To set an example of an environmentally responsible, competitive event that contributes positively to the environments through which it passes.
  3. To partner with local businesses and individuals to embed the race in the community.
  4. To create a competitive event that draws the best runners in the world.

These goals will shape every aspect of our construction of the race. The overarching goal with this event is to be authentic. This is first shown in the race distance. Instead of the standard 50 miles, we simply traced the best course around Telluride that could be run (by the winners) in seven or nine hours. That happened to be about 55 miles, so that’s what the race is. Nothing on this course will be contrived. We want to remain true to the spirit of the mountains and the pulse of the sport by creating a race that honors each important aspect of mountain running. We’re going to first and foremost have the best course of all time. It’s seriously going to be awesome. But beyond that we want to make a point to protect that course. The environments we pass through are fragile, and to protect them we must be vigilant, hard-working, and conscious of every step we take. We believe that we can hold a fun, competitive event in the mountains without degrading the land, and the focus of this race is to prove that.

Our third step in striving to be authentic is to partner with local businesses and individuals as closely as possible. In order to be a positive event for the world, we must first be a positive event for the community that hosts us. To that end, our focus is on involving the town of Telluride as much as possible, even at the expense of outside sponsors, in order to remain true to the values of the race.

Finally, we want a competitive race. And why not? Competition is cool and fast runners will have a great time crushing each other on the course. However, while we’re certainly going to do our best to amass a strong field, this is our fourth and final priority because we still remember that mountain running isn’t about winning. It’s about the experience. Of course, competition is about winning, and our event features a major overlap of those concepts, such that we are building a great mountain experience that is also a competitive event. But we’re making a point to recognize and honor the foundational reasons we all run in the mountains.

We want to honor everybody who runs the race, and not just because they are strong runners. To that end we are going to hold three contests. We will post details about the contests on the day they open, but we’re willing to divulge that they are artistic challenges. The first is an essay contest, which starts on January 1 and ends March 1. The second is an art contest, which opens February 1 and ends April 1, and the third is a photography contest, which opens March 1 and ends May 1. These are worth trying out for several reasons, because if we choose your submission we will:

  • Give you free entry into the race;
  • Publish your submission on the website and related race literature;
  • Point you out in the crowd whenever we see you on race day;
  • Introduce you to this guy we know in Telluride who looks like Neil Young, and may in fact be Neil Young but we aren’t sure;
  • Send your mother a congratulatory letter for having such an interesting and creative child;
  • Inform the CIA that you may be a subversive;
  • Provide you with the money and materials to build either a tall statue, a nuclear reactor, or learn calligraphy;
  • Challenge you to fight us onstage for trying to be smarter/cooler/better looking than us; and
  • Give you a healthy, strong, look-you-in-the-eye handshake.

And if none of that catches your fancy, just remember that getting published anywhere is an honor and you shouldn’t be so damn picky. For Pete’s sake.

In the next few weeks we will send out another newsletter, hopefully this time with new information such as: who our sponsors will be, what to expect in aid stations, where exactly the course goes, how many beers you have to drink at each aid station, where you can stay in Telluride, how you can get to Telluride, why you would even want to run in Telluride, and how good Reese is at singing (really good, is the answer). But until then just mark off the dates and start running uphill. You’re going to need it.

Stay tuned to the website and Facebook for more details. See you in August!