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Bull of the Woods trail run

Running Wild in Taos

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How one startup event is calling on the outdoor community in Taos, New Mexico

For the second consecutive year, an assorted group of runners will gather early one Autumn morning the Sangre de Cristo Mountains just outside Taos, New Mexico to run a network of pristine trails in some of the state’s highest country.

Brad Higdon among the clouds at Northside in Taos. Photo -Terrance Simon

With an 8-mile and 13.1-mile half marathon option, the Bull of the Woods run is held at family owned Northside at Taos Ski Valley. Here, in lieu of condos the owners have opted to maintain the natural environment as it is, save for some of the finest singletrack in the state, much of which was cut by hand.

“It’s unusual to have a block of private lands that are managed for recreation,” said Brad Higdon, co-director of the BOTW run and lifelong runner. His natural running form, an on-demand energetic spring on the mountain, reveals a comfort level only seen in longtime runners. “This is a unique opportunity. It’s a special place.”

Kerrie Pattison, co-owner of Northside at Taos Ski Valley, points out the trail run course on a kiosk map. She and a group of volunteers cut much of the trail network by hand. Photo- Terrance Siemon

The Northside overlooks the valley, with added panoramic views and a clear line of sight to 13,159-foot Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, as well as Kachina Peak, Gold Hill Lobo Peak and a rolling sea of conifers. Parts of the course will pass above Red River Basin with more views pouring into the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Area. Within the Northside’s 1,500 acres are untouched meadows and creeks, dense forests and mountain slopes that reach alpine tundra.

Footsteps will fall quiet on rich mountain soil that feels more like cake crumbles than the origins of life. Higher on the mountain as the forest gives way to alpine, that soft soil becomes grittier trail.

A runner in her happy place. Photo- Terrance Simon

But the BOTW isn’t an expert’s only event. In fact, it’s an accessible trail challenge for the first timer and an engaging outing for the avid trail runner.

“It’s exciting to have a shorter trail run get up into the alpine,” said Higdon. “This would be a great intro to trail racing.”

Higdon says fellow co- director Tze Yong, an avid runner and mountain biker, has carried the torch for the event, which pledges its proceeds in the entirety to the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. He then describes Taos as a blooming active community- a place not only for seasonal skiers or runners, but a place of year-round outdoor enthusiasts.

“People are starting to explore,” he said. “We have a lot of people with a lot of new energy. It’s blowing up.”

Photo- Terrance Simon

As for the trails, for Higdon running wild is innate. He said it just feels right. And in a historical, enchanting age-old city surrounded by five wilderness areas, deserts, canyons, mountains and mesas, the trails are waiting.

Higdon crossing the tundra at Northside. He said running events like the BOTW bring out outdoor enthusiasts across the state. “It’s a great way to meet people and get to know with local running community.”

“I can logout of my computer and be on the trail in 10 minutes,” he said. “It’s my sense of adventure. I relax. Get away. Connect with the land. Time alone in the wilderness touches so many things. It’s something I just love to do.”

The Bull of the Woods trail run is held in September. For more information or to register visit Bull of the Woods run. 

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