Last weekend, 9/15, was the first Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Steamboat is about 3 hours northwest of Denver.

Although on the drive up from Durango it felt as if I was surely in Wyoming (~8 hrs in the car), upon arrival in the downtown area, there appear to be more than enough trendy amenities to make an extended stay comfortable...if you're into shops and spas and dirt and rocks. Although most of my time was spent on race-related activities, the town looks like it's got a lot of character and I'll definitely be back to check it out in the future.

Betsy and Fred, the race directors, were about as friendly as you could imagine. Although I don't think she would never offer it spontaneously, I read that Betsy is a 5 time Hardrock winner. Apparently Fred's no slouch in the ultra scene himself. It being their first shot at giving back to the trail race community, I feel like they did a great job accommodating everyone from newbies such as myself to the somewhat eccentric characters that seem to populate this sport.The schwag was great: long sleeve Smartwool "finisher" shirts given out at the pre-race meeting to make sure there were no DNFs. Fred and Betsy played up their being overwhelmed with organizing such an event, and in what seems to be an "ultra" specific gesture, swearing to not ever do it again...only to quickly eat their own words a short while after the race. (I happened to hear that entry and accomodations for next year were offered to this year's winners).

The Course:

Probably actually about 52 miles, by estimates of those who carried a GPS during the race. Apart from the initial climb and final descent, most of the race is between 9000 and 10000 feet.

Starts with about 6 miles of dirt/gravel road that climbs 3500 feet up the ski resort mountain, Mt. Werner. We had headlamps on for about 30 minutes, but you might have been okay without them.

Next there is a gradual descent on singletrack until the second aid station at about 13 miles. There are some scenic lakes and open basin areas to catch your eye if you're as ADHD as myself and take your eyes off the trail. Apparently some of the front runners were encountering moose early in the morning. I saw chipmunks.

The next 6-8 miles, which I found to be the most challenging (on the way back), consisted of a steep, gnarly (i.e. rocks and roots) downhill on an ATV trail followed by a "false flat" gravel road that subtly climbed for about 3 miles.

The final section before the turnaround was a quick climb, followed by a couple hundred yards of bushwhacking (where the course seemed to be making a new trail...but where I eventually found my way back to the course), a little downhill, and then a few miles of rolling trails on singletrack again, until the turnaround. During this last section, there are some pretty great views of the volcanic formation atop a crest, Rabbit Ears, for which the race is named.

Turn around. Go back. Finish at the bottom of the ski hill with announcers broadcasting your name. You are a rockstar. You did 50 in under 15 hours. Go cash in your tickets for a free beer and pizza.

Although there were some serious lightening strikes the day before and it rained heavily the night and then day immediately following the race, we lucked out on Saturday. I stayed in on layer from 5:30 AM to 7 pm and was completely comfortable...temperature wise.

Although this was my first race at this distance, I could still feel what the veterans confirmed: The aid stations were fantastic. Enthusiastic volunteers, lots of food and hydration options. Two drop bag points (for a total of three points during the race).

A special event.

I also overheard a bit of chatter about this being a fairly challenging course, compared to other 50s. In the same breath, there were also folks completing who had run or paced at Wasatch the weekend before.

All in all, it just had a great feel to it. I would highly recommend that you add this challenging course to your to-do list.

Run smart.