High Points: Sneaker season | AspenTimes.com

High Points: Sneaker season

Paul E. Anna
High Points
The Aspen Times

They’re back.

In a sure sign of spring having sprung, the roads are filled with runners. Now that the seasons have changed and we progress from skiing to our summer sports, people have laced up their Nikes, their Brooks, their Sauconys, their Asics, and most of all this year, their Hokas (They are everywhere!) and taken to the streets. And trails.

This is a perfect place to be a runner with all the amazing trails, the running support groups, and a summer race calendar that has events for all levels of runners — from 5K road races for trotters to backcountry marathons for maniacs.

My personal favorite occupies the first spot on the race calendar. The Basalt Half Marathon kicks off the season next Saturday, June 3. This is the 46th running of the race that is the ultimate locals, mom-and-pop event. The race is a benefit for the Basalt High School cross-country program and is about as lowkey as events get.

Runners ride school buses from the Basalt Middle School in Basalt (They depart at 7:00 a.m. sharp!) 13.1 miles up Fryingpan Road to just below the Ruedi Dam. The race travels down along the river on the road, descending a gradual 1,000 feet. It is stunningly gorgeous and peaceful and, as far as half marathons go, reasonably easy for in-shape runners.

You can register online at basalthalfmarathon.com/registration or show up early on race day. Oh, and there is an option to tag team the race with relay teams of two racers, each of whom run half the Half.

The biggest race of our local season may well be the famed Boogies Buddy 5 that takes place on the Fourth of July for the 32nd year. If there is a see-and-be-seen race in Aspen, this would be it. The race winds down the Rio Grande from Wagner Park and then heads up the hill on Cemetery Lane back into town for a challenging 5-mile run that is a local tradition.

Run the Boogie, and you can be ready for the Aspen Valley Marathon, which takes place this year on July 15. That’s 50 days from today if you are counting. Another stunningly beautiful race with an attractive downhill feature, this marathon starts in Wagner Park and heads downvalley to a finish line in the Basalt Lions Park.

There is also a half marathon, which starts behind the solar array at the W/J Ranch and finishes in Basalt, as well. And for those who just want to get out among ’em, there is also a 5K which begins and ends in Lions Park. For those who are looking for it, this race also serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. From Basalt to Boston, you’ve got to love it. You can register at aspenvalleymarathon.com.

Of course, there are also races for the mountain goats out there who trade their road shoes for trail moccasins. I know of a certain doctor who is already in training for the Grand Traverse (thegrandtraverse.org/run), which takes place Sept. 2, taking runners from Crested Butte to Aspen while travelling 40 miles and seeing an elevation gain of 6,000 feet. I’ll bet a lot of the same faces will be seen on the Traverse who run the 50K (31 miles) in the Audi Power of Four run that is on July 15.

On the August page of the calendar, you’ll find the Aspen Backcountry Marathon and Heavy Half (aspenspecialevents.com/backcountry-marathon), which is Aug. 5th. This race starts in Rio Grande Park and wends its way up the Sunnyside Trail and down Smuggler to the finish. Hilly to the extreme, it is a challenging but beautiful backcountry course.

If you had your eyes set on running the Golden Leaf Half Marathon in late September, I hate to tell you, you will miss the start gun. That one is already sold out for this year.

Lace ’em up. Sign up for a race, and have fun.

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