At 9,712 feet, you find the startline of the kickoff to the Under Armour Mountain Running Series — Copper Mountain, Colorado. You also find 700+ participants ready to run. That’s 700 people ready to embrace the Rocky Mountain air and terrain and find a little something more than tired legs on the big mountain.
On that brisk Colorado morning, I lined up for the 25K, alongside one of my best friends. I live in North Carolina, she lives in Massachusetts, and we met in Colorado to catch up on life. We were out for a day of miles and smiles. Others were out for the competition and a chance at the podium, some were about to experience their first mountain run and others had no idea what was going to come next. But, reasons aside, we were all about to do the same thing — line up at the start line, put one foot in front of the other and experience the winding switchbacks, the miles of up to 12,000ish feet, the views and, most important, the community.
As I ran, power hiked, tried to catch my breath and stopped at the aid stations to refuel, I started to recognize what sets this race series apart: The mountains and their beauty on a sunshine-filled day.
You can run on these mountains at any given time (sans colorful flags and excellent food choices), but it’s not every day you get to run with all of these runners. It’s a diverse crowd. A crowd full of energy, support and good stories to tell. For me, it was much like a happy family reunion … on a mountain. There are no complaints when friends (old and new) gather to run and then celebrate afterward. It means endless hugs, music, good company and all the eats and drinks. When you get on the plane the next day, you keep riding the high, your heart is full and you count down the days until you see your friends on the mountain again. Luckily, Colorado was the first stop on this three-mountain tour which means I get to do this all over in Killington, Vermont, and Bend, Oregon.
But, don’t settle and take my word about the perfect day. I am not the only one with a story to tell.
Here’s what a few more runners will tell you about the adventure on Copper Mountain:
“My experience at Copper Mountain was probably one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my running career. Coming from Harlem, New York (aka sea level), I knew running at elevation would present a challenge. Everything from my skin to my eyeballs was dry and there was a looming headache as I awoke on race day. I was just so nervous lining up for the 25K and looking at the gigantic mountain in front of me I wondered if I would ever make it up (let alone down!). I had the good fortune of lining up with my friends from Harlem Run and next to two friendly faces — one is the author of this piece. ‘Powerhike up the mountain and enjoy the downhills,’ she said. ‘Don’t even look at your watch, it will mislead you. You can do this!’ These simple words unlocked my fear somehow, and I set out on one of my greatest races to date. Once the fear was gone, it’s like the cloud over my head faded away and I could enjoy the majestic beauty of being on the trails and push thru the elevation comfortably. I learned a valuable lesson, too: I’m so much stronger than I think, and each obstacle in my way is just an opportunity to prove that to myself!”
— Alison Desir, New York
“I found out about the race just three weeks before race day, and two days later I was buying plane tickets. I had never run a mountain race before, let alone a race at such high elevation, but I felt like I couldn’t afford to miss this. All I hoped for was a decent two-day vacation, but I ended up with an AMAZING experience. The amazing people I met, and the fantastic views, made this one of the best races of my life. I have zero doubts that I’ll run the race again in the future.”
— JB Kauzya, New Jersey
“There is a ton of climbing, and you go from about 9,500 feet to about 12,300 at the high point, so there is a lot of climbing and at very challenging elevation. But this was a high-effort/high-return situation, so I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Copper Mountain was the perfect place to host this event. It’s about 90–120 minutes from the Denver airport, and the entire village sort of encircles the event, so packet pick up, shake out runs, start/finish line, tons of restaurants/bars/shops, the post-race party and everyone’s lodging is all within a 5-minute walk. That created this very comfortable but concentrated experience where you kind of spend the weekend with everyone who’s there for the race, and you get to walk 5 minutes to get just about anywhere you want to go.”
— Tim Murphy, BibReview
“Born and raised in the concrete jungle of New York City, I love any and every opportunity to get outdoors onto the trails. The trails of Copper Mountain were absolutely amazing! To be honest, I am jealous of anyone who gets to see those views on a daily basis. Staying in the local resort housing and waking up to the beautiful mountains put a smile on my face. It also helped me forget I was at high elevation and away from noisy NYC. I chose the 50K distance for the UA Mountain Running Series, because I wanted the challenge. I love pushing to my limits and learning new things about my body. My legs were strong, but the elevation was no joke! There was great support, and I love the culture of runners passing by along the way encouraging each other on. It’s a reminder we’re not alone out on the trails, and we have others cheering us on. With great support and beautiful weather, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend away from the big-city life. You haven’t seen the last of me, Denver, and I look forward to returning.”
— Amir Figueroa, New York City
“I was super hesitant about signing up for the 10K race since I haven’t done many trail races, but I had a good friend who was coming into town to run the 25K so I decided to sign up and I am so glad I did. The course was challenging, but beautiful. I’ve lived in Colorado for about 10 years and have fallen in love with trail running. The views never get old, and the Copper course was no exception. My favorite part from the weekend though was the vibe from all the other runners. I met some inspiring ladies and their energy was contagious — ‘miles and smiles’ I ended up coming in 16th overall among females and couldn’t have been happier with my race. I always tend to start toward the back in starting lines at races, but after this weekend I’m feeling pretty inspired to move up a bit. I left the race with a permanent smile, new friends and a total runner’s high. I’m already excited about signing up for next year’s race and maybe even the 25K this time!”
— Carrie Costello, Colorado
Under Armour, you continue to meet my high, trail expectations. When Topher Gaylord said this race series was for those “…with a twinkle in their eyes, a hunger in their belly and a desire to come out…” — he was absolutely right.
If you are just as excited as I am about this series, you can join me and a few hundred others at Killington in August and Mt. Bachelor in September.
Register now for a summer you won’t forget.