This was our second go-around with the Under Armour Mountain Running Series. Last year, we took on the 50K at Mount Bachelor in Oregon. It was brutal. This year we headed to Copper Mountain, Colorado where they hosted a 50K, 25K, 10K and 5K. We learned our lesson in Bachelor and signed up for the 25K.
We arrived in Denver Friday afternoon and headed into town with the PR team and editors Meghan Roos (Women’s Running Magazine) and Nicolle Monico (Competitor Magazine). Meghan wrote a nice recap of Kelly Wolf’s 25K win.
After a scenic 2 hour drive, we found ourselves at the base of Copper Mountain and checked into our hotel. Copper has three main villages (East, Center, and West). We stayed in Center Village. The “hotel” rooms are individually owned, so they have a homey feel; we had our own kitchen, living room and bedroom (which happened to overlook the start line of the event). It was perfect.
Once settled in, we walked down to Incline Bar and Grill and grabbed a drink and some dinner. We were finished by 5:30 pm. I grabbed a bottle of wine and headed back up to our room to watch Talladega Nights and continue drinking at altitude.
The alarm went off at 4:30 am. We hopped out of bed, picked out race-day gear and pinned on bibs. It was a brisk 55 in the morning, perfect racing weather. Since our room overlooked the start line, we got to sip coffee from our couch while spectating the 50K start. It was fun to watch them take off and had me anxious to get out there and run. A few minutes later, we did.
The start of trail races are funny. Everyone wants to rush off the line, but then walk when they hit the first bit of incline. This course takes you straight into singletrack with switchbacks up the mountain. It’s runnable, but the incline at elevation made it a challenge. I took full advantage of those walking in front of me; as a sea-level roadrunner, I had no business passing anyone in the first few miles of the race.
The climb continued for several miles. It wasn’t that steep, but the elevation gains (the course climbed up to 12,000 feet, with the base elevation starting close to 9,800 feet) made it tough. After 7 miles of up, we finally got to the summit. I took in the views, grabbed some flat Coca-Cola and headed back down the mountain. The downhill was primarily service roads, so you could just fly. The next few miles were fun.
After the nice descent, you take on two more brutal climbs. The elevation map doesn’t do these justice. As part of an out-and-back, you’re envious of everyone on their way back and empathetic to everyone on their way out. After the final climb on mile 13, it’s pretty smooth sailing. The last mile or so is a section of singletrack through an open meadow down to a gravel road and onto the Continental Divide Trail. You take one final turn off the trail to the finish line; a welcoming sight.
I ended up with a time of 2:47, the 10th female to cross the line. Never having run a 25K, I will take the PR.
The post-race party was a mix of music, beer and muscle recovery gadgets; basically, everything you want after a run through the mountains. We took advantage of the lineup.
A few hours later we headed to a Happy Hour hosted by Under Armour to hear from some of their athletes and to get an inside look at the running shoe lineup for 2019. I am excited to see where UA is going with footwear and eager to try out the latest road shoes. More on those later.
This race was extremely well organized and came with a great vibe. Everyone out on the mountain, from the runners to volunteers were friendly and encouraging. The course was immaculately marked, the aid stations had just about anything you could eat or drink, and the weather happened to be perfect. To be totally honest, this event wayyy exceeded my expectations. Kudos to the UA Team.
If you’re interested in taking on one of the Under Armour Mountain Challenges, the next event will be at the Killington Resort in Vermont on August 25th, and they’ll end at Mount Bachelor on September 15th.