The Never Summer 100km will take place almost entirely within the boundaries of State Forest State Park and run between the Never Summer Mountains on the northern border of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and the Medicine Bow Mountains to the north of Cameron Pass.
This is a mountain race in the truest sense of the term, with extended periods of high alpine ridge running, two alpine peaks, and five alpine lakes visited along the way. When above timberline, you'll enjoy huge views of the northern Never Summer Mountains to the south, the stunning peaks of RMNP to the southeast, expansive vistas across North Park to the Park Range above Steamboat Springs to the west, and even north out to Wyomings Snowies.
The race covers a huge variety of terrain, from cross country, to jeep and logging roads, to bomber alpine trail, and pretty much everything in between. There are some sections of the course that have seen very little foot traffic in recent years and are rough and overgrown as a consequence; this only adds to the charm of the race. Elk and cattle cut their own paths which can easily lead you astray if you dont follow the route markings carefully. Youll cross meadows and streams, youll wade through mud up to your shins, youll negotiate rocks, and youll go over and under more downed trees than you care to remember. There is quite literally something new around every corner on this course. Expect to see moose, elk and maybe some bighorn sheep through the course of your run.
Our aim with this race is to offer a challenging ultra-distance mountain-running experience in a wild and beautiful setting. With a cut-off of 24 hours, we believe that anybody with adequate training and the requisite mental fortitude can complete this run, but please also be aware that this is a true mountain wilderness experience in challenging terrain, much of it between 10,000ft and 12,000ft.
Features: Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
- Start: Gould Community Center, Gould, CO.
- Distance: 64.2 Miles with 13,000ft of vertical gain and 13,000ft of descent.
- Terrain: Trail, dirt road, rough trail, high alpine, rocks.
- Date: Saturday July 25, 2015, 5:30am
- Cut Off: 24 Hours
The course will be well marked with hot pink flagging tape plus extra pin flags and flour at important intersections. On longer stretches of trail, flagging will be placed approximately every quarter mile. Turns will be marked heavily with 3-4 extra flags before the turn and 3-4 flags within line of sight leading away in the right direction. So if you see a lot of flags, pay attention and watch for the next turn. If you dont see any flags for over 10 minutes youre likely off course and need to turn back.
The race will begin at an elevation of 9,100 feet at the Gould Community Center, and will set out in a southeasterly direction on two-track trail heading towards Seven Utes Mountain (11,453), the alpine summit of which will be gained six miles into the run. The view of the sun coming up over the Nokhu Crags should be pretty special as you pop up above tree line.
From Seven Utes the route crosses a short saddle to connect to the Silver Creek Trail which traverses the shoulder of Braddock Peak, before dropping into beautiful Lake Agnes under Mt Mahler and Mt Richthofen and sitting at 10,700. Runners will follow the northern shoreline of Lake Agnes before dropping down to the Michigan Ditch
service road directly below the Nokhu Crags on a short section of scree trail. The Michigan Ditch
road will take runners around the northeast ridge of the Nokhu Crags to the American Lakes Trail
for the ascent up to the stunning American Lakes (11,200) on the backside of the Crags. Runners will then drop back down and cross the Michigan Ditch
following the American Lakes Trail
out to the Hwy 14 road crossing and aid station.
From the aid station, runners will ascend steeply to North Diamond Peak
(11,850), the high point on the course, from where the route will follow the summit ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains on faint trail for approximately two miles, before descending west off the ridge on rough jeep road to the Yurt contour trail at approximately 9,600.
The Yurt Trail will not be your friend. It is rough, but will be marked well. Once negotiated, the Yurt Trail spits out onto the Ruby Jewel Trail
access road which runners take back up the hillside towards Clark Peak for a mile or two before turning north onto the Hidden Valley Trail
. This trail will take runners back up into the alpine to the high point in Hidden Valley (11,200), before the descent to beautiful Kelly Lake with views of the Nokhu Crags now far off in the distance to the south. From Kelly Lake the descent on the Kelly Lake Trail
follows the channel carved out by Kelly Creek through a mix of pine forest and huge old growth aspen groves.
From the end of the Kelly Lake Trail
, the course follows good forest road north for 1.5 miles to the Clear Lake Trail
intersection. We loved Clear Lake so much, we decided to throw in a quick 2.2 mile out and back up to the lake. Back-of-the-pack runners will be in for a special treat as they descend back from Clear Lake with an amazing sunset view across North Park to the Park Range.
With Clear Lake negotiated, at approximately 44 miles and over 10,000 feet into your day, the meat of the climbing will have been accomplished. As you loop around on the northern perimeter of the course, youll be treated to huge views of the mileage youve already accomplished, both in the Medicine Bow Mountains and Never Summer Mountains.
Your trek south will parallel the Medicine Bow range in the valley below, beginning on a mix of singletrack and doubletrack bordered with vibrant Rocky Mountain wildflowers at the 8,500 low point on the course. At the North Canadian Yurt aid station (50.4 miles), you'll connect with the Northern section of the Yurt trail passing across rough pasture and through pine forest on a slight upward trajectory back to Ruby Jewel Road.
From Ruby Jewel Trail
it is fast downhill running through a large meadow to the Bockman road crossing and final crew access location, before a slow grinding climb up to the Gould Mountain saddle on a mix of forest road and rough logging roads. The final descent from the saddle will bring you out to Highway 14, which must be crossed by the Ranger Lakes Campground before the final two groomer miles into the finish.
Make no mistake, this is a tough course, but with perseverance and a steady head you'll get it done, and we cant wait to see that happen!
Moose, elk, black bears, bighorn sheep.