Athletics Magazine

Smoky, High and Hot. What’s Not to Love?

By Brisdon @shutuprun

Tomorrow morning Joie and I leave for Pagosa Springs, Colorado for our race – the Turkey Track Trail Marathon. The race is Saturday morning. You may remember that we were both training for this marathon, spending hours on the trails, when I got injured. I’ve had to pull back and downgrade to the half, but Joie is still going to pull out the full.

It’s a long drive.

Me: How far is the drive?
Joie: Six hours.
Me: Now, why did we decide to do this?


It seemed like a good idea the time. Many a running plan or race is decided on over one too many cocktails. Nothing like being three sheets to the wind and signing up for ninety marathons all at once.

But, if you’re going to go – go big. The southwestern part of Colorado is un-freaking-amazing in terms of beauty. The town is itty bitty, but check out that backdrop.


The only time I’ve been to Pagosa is when I did Ride the Rockies, a 6 day, 410 mile bike ride across Colorado in 1994. We slept on some football field in a tent. I used to be really cool, laid back and spontaneous. Then I got old.


That’s Ken standing out in front of our tent with his bike.
It was a very peaceful sleeping situation, let me tell you.

This race might take awhile.  Trail running tends to take longer than road running because – duh – you are on trails which usually involves climbing and tripping over roots and pooping in the bushes and stopping to have Coke at the aid stations. Don’t get me wrong, I love running out on the trails, but I do have a couple of concerns.

  • I’m undertrained. When I got injured back in April, I had to stop running for a bit. I’ve picked it up recently, but I know I’m not there yet. My plan is to be conservative. My body feels good, but I know my fitness is not where it usually is.
  • It’s smoky. There have been fires in New Mexico and the smoke has migrated up to Colorado. The race was supposed to start at 8:00 a.m., but they moved it until 9:00 a.m. I guess the smoke settles in the valley overnight and usually by 9:00 a.m. it has moved out.
  • It’s high. The elevation of Pagosa Springs is about 7,100 feet. While the climbing is not HUGE in this run, it’s still about 1,000 feet. I haven't trained at altitude. At all.
  • It will be hot. Race doesn’t start until 9:00 a.m and it’s supposed to be 85 degrees that day. I’m going to be smart and take salt tabs just to be safe.

Aid stations are almost four miles apart, so I’ll be shlepping my fuel belt with me. I’m not a big fan of racing with a belt, but ‘tis the way on the trails. And, I HATE handhelds. Sorry, I just do. Joie is kind of bummed because they changed the course. The marathon now goes like this: run the half marathon loop, then turn around and run it in reverse. I think it’s mentally tough to do loops with a marathon. I prefer a point to point or one big loop.

Race goal? Not sure. I’d like to feel good. The end.

But, for real, I am looking forward to the girl’s getaway. Life and work have been very stressful lately and I’m am welcoming a road trip, a long run in the trees and a break from routine. Even if I crash and burn on the course, I will do so in the middle of glorious and scenic Colorado. Plus, it’s called Pagosa SPRINGS for a reason. Hot springs, baby.

Smoky, High and Hot. What’s Not to Love?

Hot Springs along the San Juan River {source}

This will only be my second trail race, the first being when I ran part of the TransRockies Run with Dean Karnazes in 2010. I have to say that running with Dean for your first trail race is the shit. I know he still misses and fantasizes about me.


Too bad his bicep is so ugly.


Joie has a stomach like I do, i.e. any super rich food will send her packing to the crapper for hours. That is why we have made the mature decision to pack our lunch on the road and not stop for chili cheese fries and milkshakes, I know myself and I have to REALLY watch what I eat the days leading up to a race.

So, maybe I’ll have an update from Pagosa tomorrow or Saturday. Or maybe I’ll just check out, drink beer, race and ignore blogging. Stay tuned.

Ever agree to run or a race or sign up for one after or during drinking? I’ve never signed up for one, but I’ve made lots of plans. This is usually when doing an ultra or an Ironman enters the picture. Problem is, you have to train and race when you are sober.

What’s the most beautiful race you’ve ever run? Probably the race with Dean. Seriously, being on the trails in CO is hard to beat.

Ever do a race that involved running loops as opposed to an out and back or point to point course? Nope. I’ve never done a looped race before.


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