copper mountain 25k
Photo: John Kelly Photos

Race: Under Armour Mountain Running Series – Copper Mountain 25k

Runner: Elizabeth Carey

Race Date: 07/14/2018

Location: Copper Mountain, Colorado

Results: 4th F / 1 AG / 10th OA

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1702246551

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Scenery: The wildflowers were blooming, the Colorado sun was shining, and views from 12k feet on top of the ski slope were breathtaking (pun intended)
  2. Scene: The post-race village was popping, with recovery zones, kombucha, and cool people. It was fun to hang and reconnect with friends old and new.
  3. Flowy trails: This race was a grind from the get-go, but flowy mountain bike trails kept it entertaining.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The website lacks a lot of information, including a course map with accurate mileage markers and/or directions; but the course was well-marked and had lots of Copper Mt staff and volunteers pointing you in the right direction.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

It’s on Copper Mountain — a place I’m used to skiing, not running.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

This race was a last-minute decision and I knew it’d be tough coming from sea level. I just gave it what I had on that day! It was fun to run with some good ladies up front.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

The air is (obviously) thin, as the race starts at 9,500 feet, so pace yourself. Or don’t, like me, and just wait for the altitude to catch up with you if you’re not used to racing at that elevation. FWIW it made me feel barfy and lightheaded, but it passed. Once I finished.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • Skip the vest and go for a small handheld
  • Practice more downhills
  • Prepare to suffer

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Be prepared for a long climb to the top, some decent, and then a little climb that feels harder than it should be before a screaming descent to the finish.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

This course is beautiful.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

This is a tough course but also very fun and playful. I’d stick to the 25k rather than the 50k (two loops of the 25k).

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Day-of organization was a well-oiled machine.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The competition was decent, but — honestly — lacking for a “big” Colorado trail race. One of the best female trail runners showed up, so that was cool.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

I registered a day or two before online, and checked in to get my bib the morning of. Driving to Copper from Denver in the early morning was feasible, without traffic (a rarity). If you need it, lodging on-site is plentiful, thanks to the ski area base.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

The aid stations had Powerade, water, and a few snacks — typical trail fare like candy and chips. I carried my own gels and water (which I could barely stomach).

Weather and typical race conditions

Racing in Colorado at high altitudes can make for unpredictable conditions. Generally, mornings are best — and that held true for this race. A tee and shorts were more than enough in terms of layers.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

A hat and sunnies are recommended due to sun exposure.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Yes. That is, if your friends can hike or run up hills. If they want to chill in the finish area, there are plenty of options for relaxing and waiting.

How’s the Swag?

Awesome; I got a lightweight long-sleeve UA hoodie that’s become a go-to.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5 stars — I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in steep uphill running, fast descents, and/or testing their lungs.