Aspen Backcountry Marathon set for June 28 |

Aspen Backcountry Marathon set for June 28

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Morgan Williams heads toward the finish line as he wins the 2013 Aspen Backcountry Marathon. The 2014 Aspen Backcountry Marathon, sponsored by Aspen Parks and Recreation, will be held on Saturday, June 28.
Dale Strode/The Aspen Times |

The summer trail running season will hit full stride Saturday, June 28, with the return of the annual Aspen Backcountry Marathon.

The popular 26.2-mile trail run is sponsored by the Aspen Parks and Recreation Department.

Registration information is available at

The marathon will start and finish at Koch Park in downtown Aspen, with 3,806 feet of vertical gain and 3,737 of descent.

The first significant climb starts up Smuggler Mountain, and then it’s off to the 10th Mountain Trail that connects to the Hunter Creek Cutoff Trail.

From there, runners take the Iowa Shaft to the 10th Mountain Bridge, before heading down to the Hunter Creek Valley floor and ultimately heading down Sunnyside to the Rio Grande Trail.

From there, runners go up Cemetery Lane before taking a right on Silver King Road. Then it’s off to the Maroon Creek Trail and then on to Government Trail.

That trail will take runners up Buttermilk and down to the base of Tiehack before crossing through the Marolt Open Space.

Then, it’s onto West Hopkins Avenue, which will connect runners to the Midland Trail, then up the Little Cloud Trail and down the Ajax Trail to the finish line at Koch Park.

This year will mark the second staging of the event in June. In 2011 and 2012, the event was held in August.

Last year, Morgan Williams and Megan Lund Lizotte won titles in the Aspen Valley Marathon on a brilliantly sunny day in Aspen.

Williams, a longtime trail runner from Carbondale, completed the 26.2-mile trek that included nearly 4,000 feet of climbing in 3 hours, 38 minutes, 45 seconds.

He pulled ahead of Aspen trail runner Michael Barlow on the final big ascent of Buttermilk to win the men’s division of the race

Lizotte, a Basalt native and member of the U.S. Mountain Trail Running Team, won the women’s division and finished third overall in a blazing 3:55:15.

Second and third in the women’s division last year went to the mother-daughter duo of Anita and Amelia Ortiz, of Eagle.

Lizotte since has relocated to California. She’s a former prep all-stater and collegiate standout at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

Jason Murphy finished third in the men’s category (4:09) one year ago.

Williams led virtually from the start last year.

By the time the runners started up Smuggler Mountain, Williams already led the field of 150 backcountry marathoners.

For more information, visit

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