TransRockies Run gets green light | AspenTimes.com

TransRockies Run gets green light

Janet Urquhart
Aspen, CO Colorado

The route has been altered significantly, and what was to be a six-day run through the Colorado Rockies has been cut to five days, but next week’s inaugural TransRockies Run is a go.

The event, which has endured a lengthy review by a multitude of agencies, is set to begin Sunday in Beaver Creek and end Thursday, Sept. 20, in Aspen. The final OK from the U.S. Forest Service came just this week.

All of the run’s permits are in place, said Aaron McConnell, director of events for TransRockies, Inc., who was in Beaver Creek on Thursday ironing out the final details for the weekend start.

“The event is pretty much a go,” confirmed Sally Spaulding, a Forest Service public information officer in Glenwood Springs. The Eagle-Holy Cross District ranger signed the permit Wednesday, Spaulding said. Pitkin County was also one of the final holdouts; the county official handling the permit could not be reached Thursday.

The run will send about 120 participants ” 60 teams of two ” on a route through the mountains on a mix of single- and double-track trails, forest roads, gravel roads and pavement. They will average about 22 miles per day, and spend the nights either in a town along the way or camping.

In order to secure an acceptable route, however, organizers will twice shuttle runners to starting points, and the final leg will not cross through the mountains and drop into Aspen. Instead, runners will come up the Rio Grande Trail from Basalt.

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Getting all the necessary OKs from various governmental bodies proved more difficult than organizers expected, McConnell said.

“It’s been much more difficult. I think we’ve learned quite a bit,” he said. “Being in September really complicated a lot of things with the permit process.”

Bear activity, wildlife in general, and the ongoing bow-hunting season for deer and elk all cropped up as concerns for state and local agencies during the permit review.

Early last spring, organizers eyed a route that would have brought runners into Aspen down Smuggler Mountain Road. The plan was scrapped in favor of a run through Woody Creek, Lenado and the Sunnyside Trail, but that route sparked concerns about both wildlife and traffic.

Instead, participants will be shuttled from Chapman Campground in the Fryingpan Valley to Basalt, where they’ll run the final leg to Aspen on the Rio Grande Trail.

“The Rio Grande Trail is certainly a beautiful trail, even if it’s not trail running. It’s very scenic,” McConnell said.

Organizers will wait until the run is finished to evaluate its future. They haven’t necessarily soured on returning to Colorado despite the arduous permit process, he said.

“We’ve certainly had some indications that things will be a lot easier if we plan it for July and August instead of September,” McConnell said.

This year, the event was timed to take advantage of the autumn splendor, and organizers decided to end it in Aspen so participants could follow up the run with participation in the annual 13.3-mile Golden Leaf Classic, a trail run from Snowmass Village to Aspen on Sept. 22.

Including participants, staff and others, the event is expected to involve about 240 people, according to the TransRockies permit application with the Forest Service.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com