Aspen Backcountry Marathon returns Saturday |

Aspen Backcountry Marathon returns Saturday

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Shawnie Mulligan of Eagle County heads to the finish as the 2014women's winner of the Aspen Backcountry Marathon.
Dale Strode / The Aspen Times |

Up, up, up.

That’s 4,000 vertical feet of climbing.

Throw in a 26.2-mile trail marathon, and you have the fourth annual Aspen Backcountry Marathon, sponsored by Aspen Parks and Recreation.

The annual trail race will take off at 6 a.m. Saturday at Koch Lumber Park in Aspen.

And the finish will bring runners back to Koch Park for the conclusion of the trail test.

The initial test for the runners is a climb up Smuggler Mountain, including sections of the BTS Trail and the 10th Mountain Trail.

They will go down the Hunter Creek Valley before working their way to the Sunnyside / Plunge Trail.

Then, it’s on to Van Horn Park, eventually to the Hobbit Trail to Four Corners.

Then, the runners will follow the Sunnyside Trail to the Rio Grande Trail for a run to Stein Park.

Then, it’s up Cemetery Lane, around the Aspen Golf Course before heading down into the Maroon Creek Valley.

The route includes a run across Tiehack over to main Buttermilk and then back down to the base of Tiehack.

Runner will go back across the Terral Wade Bridge for the run into Aspen via the Marolt Open Space.

But there’s another climb when the runners head from the Midland Trail up the Little Cloud Trail.

That intersects with the Ajax Trail, which takes the runners to the finish at Koch Lumber Park.

Last year fast conditions led to a course record by overall winner Casey Weaver, a former prep runner for the Basalt cross country program and a former NCAA Division II runner at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Weaver, 24, finished in 3:30:04, an 8:01 mile pace for the trail marathon.

Aspen’s Max Taam, a top trail runner and ski mountaineer, finished second last year in 3:49.

Shawnie Mulligan of Eagle County won the women’s race in her very first trail marathon (4:03:19).

Mulligan, 35, is a longtime mountain biker from the Vail area who’s completed the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.

Second place went to Aspen’s Julia Rowland.

Mulligan was sixth overall in the field of 120 trail marathoners last year. Rowland was seventh overall as two women finished among the top seven in 2014.

For registration and additional information on Saturday’s race, visit