Jogging up a mountain road, the alpine terrain rises around you, thick with Douglas fir and other old growth forest. Passing mining remains, a century of local history, you finally crest and gaze over a crashing sea of Rocky Mountains. Then, you head right into them. The road disappears, and you find yourself navigating a severely exposed remote trail, traversing stunning and steep terrain, cutting a grade and clinging to a path. This high altitude running is a world above. This is the Kennebec Mountain Run, August 1, 2015.
“You’re above treeline,” said race director Brendan Trimboli. “It’s a great taste of mountain alpine running.”
Trimboli, a seasoned ultra runner who has strong finishes in such heralded events like the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a run that traverse the Alps in Italy, France and Switzerland, called the Kennebec a “low key race that takes place in a very unique, lesser know part of Colorado.”
He said around 100 people will turn out for the event, in its tenth year, and it never disappoints.
The 15-mile route starts up La Plata Canyon Rd. and heads north to the top of Kennebec Pass, then swings east and begins its circumnavigation of 12,516 foot Snowstorm Peak, leaving an already rugged mountain road and venturing onto exposed path that rises and falls as it traverses a steep mountain side and climbs up and over the saddle between Snowstorm Peak and Lewis Mountain.
“It’s a little bit of a hairy singletrack,” Trimboli said, “But it’s about 75 percent pretty gnarly jeep road and 25 percent trail.”
The run switches direction every year. This year, it will climb Kennebec and head down into Columbine Basin via a rugged trail.
Trimboli said the run starts at around 9000 feet and soon has runners hovering around 12,000. He also said it’s a strong stepping stone for longer more sustained alpine events like the Imogene Pass Run or Kendall Mountain later this summer. “It’s a good lead up for preparation,” he said.
Although he’s in the driver’s seat for this one, he’ll run the show after a big outing of his own. As of mid June, Trimboli is set to run in the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run, a long time objective for the 27-year-old.
“I’ve definitely been thinking about the Hardrock since the very first one and I’m pretty excited for it,” he said.
As race director for the Kennebec, he’s eager to gain experience in such trail outings, and use that to plan bigger things.
“I always thought an ultra in the La Platas would be cool,” he said. “There’s nothing like that.”