Saturday, June 5, 2010

Home Trails

(Pikes Peak, with the Incline and Manitou Springs at its base.  What a huge mountain.)

Yesterday I headed down to Colorado Springs in the evening for a change of scenery for today's long run.  Today was to be my longest run in my final preparations for Western States, so I wanted a bunch of trails to choose from instead of just doing multiple loops of Green Mt. and/or Walker Ranch.  Additionally, because I've been doing essentially the same long run for the past two months now--laps of Green with Walker thrown in the middle--I wanted some new terrain where I wouldn't constantly know how many minutes/seconds I was fast or slow from the week before.

(The day's route, without the Garden of the Gods portion.  Pikes Peak in the upper right.)

Before the Leadville 100 last summer I did two 50 milers in the final weeks before the race--one in each direction on the out-and-back course--and because I'm so familiar with splits and checkpoints all along that route I think I ended up doing both of those runs a bit too hard.  The purpose of today's run was to log lots of running time on my feet, but to not feel compelled to hit any specific split or pace.

(Almagre and Rosa top out at 12,350' and 11,500', respectively; I'm not sure why MapMyRun's scale doesn't depict their elevations more accurately. Basically, one 6500' climb and three 1500' climbs for a total of 11k'.)

There are just so many trails to choose from in the Springs.  Today I ran from my friend Brooks' doorstep and, except for a couple short out-and-backs to the tops of climbs, I basically never ran the same trail during nearly 60 miles of running and only had 4mi of pavement (I did start less than a mile from downtown, afterall).  And, I didn't even touch Pikes Peak or the Rampart Range.  And, for very large chunks of that, didn't see a single other person.  Over the past few months I have become quite enamored with Boulder, but in terms of sheer variety of trails and immediacy of access to high altitude, Manitou/Colorado Springs is awfully tough to beat (having lived there for seven years, I admit I have a bit of a bias).

I'll let a few pictures from the day tell the rest of the story: (Warning, 8+ hrs is a long time and there was a whole lot to see, so there are a lot of pictures to follow...)

(The optical illusional twin summits of 11,500' Mt. Rosa as seen from town.  The high point on the left is actually a full 500' higher than the "peak" on the right.)

(A couple miles into the initial 14mi/6500' climb, in Bear Canyon on the 666 trail--affectionately known as either El Diablo or Balls-to-the-Wall (due to its steep nature) by the CC XC teams.  I've drank from the just-uphill source of this spring literally hundreds of times.)

(Brilliantly budding aspen of Jones Park at 9000'.)

(Looking back down the 3000' vert of Bear Creek Canyon, which I just ran up.)

(The buttery smooth single track of the Pipeline Trail has that name for a reason.  Contouring flat for a mile or so at ~9100', this is part of the Ring The Peak route.)

(The beautiful secret single track along North Cheyenne Creek, accessed off of Pipeline.)

(The six mile road climb to the south summit of Almagre.)

(~1mi and 400' to go to the summit towers of 12,350' Almagre.)

(Pikes Peak from Almagre's summit. You can clearly see the Cog Railway's (very steep) route.)

(What nearly 6500' of vertical relief looks like.  Colorado Springs below.)

(The Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range off to the southwest.)

(Just below the top of Almagre, with Pikes over my shoulder.)

(Running an exquisite ribbon of high ridge single track leading to Rosa's 11,500' summit. One of my favorite sections of trail in the Pikes Peak region.)

(The 4000' drop off of Rosa can have a good bit of gnarl...)

(...or be blissfully perfect.  I've never seen another person on this three mile stretch of trail above St. Mary's Falls.  People are crazy.)

(Part of the 2mi/1500' grunt back up to 9000' on the Seven Bridges Trail.  This climb came after 5hrs of running.)

(The view west up the Cheyenne Creek drainage from 8300' Mt. Buckhorn.  Rosa is in the center of the photo with the road switchbacks on the shoulder of Almagre visible in the upper right corner.)

(After the descent off of Buckhorn and yet another 1500' climb you come to the namesake of the Dog Rock Trail.)

(From the top of Section 16 you can look back across the Bear Creek drainage to see Mt. Buckhorn (on the right) and Mays Peak (on the left).  The steep road cut is High Drive, which I just descended before climbing back up to Dog Rock and Section 16.)

(Some of the flawless, endless single track in Red Rock Canyon.)

(The classic sandstone of the Garden of the Gods.)

(The trail in the Garden that shares the name of my hometown.  Through the curious mechanism of a vast, ancient interior sea, the same white, chalky rock that this trail runs over forms endless bluffs along the Missouri River valley in and near Niobrara, NE and is considered this particular geologic formation's type location.  I also really like this trail in the Garden.)

(A parting shot of the mountain that oversees everything.  But, if these pictures show anything, it's that there is a TON of trail running in the Springs that doesn't involve Barr Trail and its crowds.)


Brandon Fuller said...

Good to see some of those infamous trails in a pictorial. However, I assumed they served PBR at every trail junction down there but that seems not to be the case.

But you didn't answer the big question...are you ready to rumble??

Anton said...

Ha! JT has probably never even been on half these trails.

And, yes.

Tom said...

Incredible post. Incredible run. Thanks for keeping this blog Anton. I'm new to the region and you've identified tons of new trails for me to check out.
By the way; What camera do you run with? Great photos.

Mark said...

wow really cool pictures, and btw its official that i now want to live in colorado.

i have a question, what shoes do you wear for your longer runs like this one? how about your shorter runes of 30 miles or less?

R. Logan Brooks said...


Another beautiful post. Colorado is teeming with beauty for sure. I had the opportunity to do a short run recently in Estes Park, it was something I'll never forget. Instead I am stuck running/braving the deserts of the southwest. Thanks for the post.

Robert said...


How do you carry your camera? (Sorry if you have answered this before!)

I really enjoy your blog, very well written and very inspirational. It is, by far, the best running blog I have come across on the internet. Good luck in your future events.

Anton said...

Tom-Sony Cybershot T7. It's actually Jocelyn's camera, but it's superthin profile makes it a perfect camera for running.

Mark-On my runs over 3hrs I've been wearing an advance pair of the NB 101, which will hit shelves in October. On 2ish hour mountain runs I wear customized pairs of NB 100s that are built on the 790 platform with a higher-durometer midsole foam. On ~1hr evening runs I wear NB 152s (a racing flat) or a Minimus prototype and do about half the run barefoot.

Robert-I carry the camera in a soft eyeglasses sleeve with a clip on it that I then clip into my waistband. Hardly notice it.

Charlie said...

Wow, very inspirational. I grew up in C. Springs and hardly knew about those trails! My fiancee works in C. Springs and raves about the trails, too. I, too, have been wondering how you carry a camera!!

Good luck with Western States!

See you on the trails.


Barry Bliss said...

Did you ever consider writing songs and singing or writing books--only to decide you had more talent in this area? Have you always been focused on running--outside of school?
Do you play music at all?
Ever felt torn?

Unknown said...

Awesome post! I am so jealous! Those trails look sweet. Best Wishes at Western States!

Charlie said...

How long does it take you to map a run like that on MapMyRun? Do you have to guestimate some trail routs when mapping? I've tried mapping some of my local trails but the Sat photos are only so good in some areas and the trails will sometimes be blocked by trees. Are some of them already mapped on the site?
I've read that you don't prefer to use a Garmin or some other GPS tool, so I was just curious about how you put your routes on "paper."

Barry Bliss said...

maybe worded wrong above

Was there a time in the past where you were torn about what to devote so much time and energy to?

vibram five fingers said...

Incredible run. Thanks for keeping this blog Anton.I had the opportunity to do a short run recently in a beautiful place, it was something I'll never forget.