Frozen Front Range Fat Ass

A “fat ass” is an official term for a non-race race. There is a designated course and a specific date and start time but there’s no entry free, no awards, no official timing, no course markings, no support, and, most importantly, no whining – just running for the pure and simple joy of it.

A group of 30 or so runners showed up for Sherpa John’s Frozen Front Range Marathon Fat Ass, which was neither frozen nor a marathon but did include 5 of our Front Range peaks: Sanitas, Flagstaff, Green, Bear and Eldo. It was great to see such a strong turn out but I couldn’t help but be disappointed at the noticeable lack of women runners. There were only 2 of us :-(  Where are you ladies?! Maybe these photos will get you out there for the next one ;-) It certainly was a beautiful day for a run along our local trails!

The sun rising over Boulder as we headed up our first peak of the day:

A golden glance southwards towards our front range course:

Sweet Mount Sanitas:


Runners take over the first summit:

Sanitas sun salutations:

A look back at Mount Sanitas from the Flagstaff trail:

All the chit-chatting made the run up Flagstaff go by so quickly that I forgot to snap a photo of summit number 2. So fast forward to summit number 3:

I love this view over the Continental Divide from the top of Green but the pathetic amount of snow fall in the Rockies this winter… again… makes me sad and anxious.

We’re going to be in for another nasty fire-ridden water-rationed summer which will leave us with more barren and charred landscapes like the West Ridge of Bear Peak:

Two mountain goats speeding up the rocky trail to Bear Peak:

Scrambling to the summit:

Gray skies over peak number four!

What is that, Mike? Why it’s the 4th summit marker of the day!

A perfect spot for a sandwich and burrito. We trail runners are all about food (and beer… which came later).

Usually, South Boulder Peak is part of the skyline course but it’s still off-limits since the June 2012 fire :-(

Alberto (with whom I ran much of RRR50) flying down to the Mesa trail from Fern Canyon:

We ran south along the Mesa Trail to the lovely old Mesa Trail (high fiveing Scott Jurek along the way) and down into the town of Eldorado Springs. We chatted with a few locals and patiently waited for our turn to get water from the spring before we headed towards the state park entrance. Unfortunately a rather grumpy ranger wouldn’t let us through without paying a fee so we turned around. We knew there was a secret trail somewhere nearby that would bypass the park entrance but we had no idea where it was. The only other option we knew of was to run back to Dowdy Draw and catch a trail from there. But the beers sitting in the back seat of the car at the Dowdy Draw trailhead were just too tempting to pass up… so we left Eldo Mountain for another day. I heard from a brave friend of mine nearly 5 hours later that it took 8 additional miles of bushwhacking, steep scrambling and local knowledge to tag that summit.

Here’s a rough summary of our course:

  • Mount Sanitas via Sanitas Valley Trail and East Ridge (2 mile ascent with 1200′ gain) and then down West Ridge, over Red Rocks to Eben G Fine Park (2 mile descent with 1300′ loss)
  • Flagstaff Mountain via Flagstaff Trail & Ute Trail (3 mile ascent with 1500′ gain)
  • Green Mountain via Ranger Trail (2 mile ascent with 1200′ gain)
  • Bear Peak via Bear Canyon (2 mile descent with 800′ loss) and West Ridge (2 mile ascent with 1100′ gain)
  • Dowdy Draw via Fern Canyon (2 mile descent with 2000′ loss), Mesa Trail, Old Mesa Trail, Eldorado Springs

Total: 20 miles, 4.5 hours, 6400′ vert gain.

Another wonderful adventure right from our doorstep :-)

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