The Never Summer 100km will take place almost entirely within the boundaries of State Forest State Park and run between the Never Summer Mountains on the northern border of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and the Medicine Bow Mountains to the north of Cameron Pass. The first 20 miles of the race will offer a tour of the peaks and alpine lakes of the northern Never Summer Mountains, before the route crosses below Cameron Pass and heads north into the southern Medicine Bow Mountains for more peaks and lakes over the final 40 miles.
Cameron Pass sits at the top of the iconic Poudre Canyon and near the headwaters of the Cache La Poudre River, almost exactly halfway between Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs (1.5 hours either way), an hour south of Laramie, WY, and 2.5 – 3 hours from Denver. This is a mountain race in the truest sense of the term, with extended periods of high alpine ridge running, two alpine peaks, and five alpine lakes visited along the way. When above timberline, you will enjoy huge views of the northern Never Summer Mountains to the south, the stunning peaks of RMNP to the southeast, expansive vistas across North Park to the Park Range above Steamboat Springs to the west, and even north out to Wyoming’s Snowy Range.
The race covers a huge variety of terrain, from cross country, to jeep and logging roads, to bomber alpine trail, and pretty much everything in between. There are some sections of the course that have seen very little foot traffic in recent years and are rough and overgrown as a consequence; this only adds to the ‘charm’ of the race. Elk and cattle cut their own paths which can easily lead you astray if you don’t follow the route markings carefully. You’ll cross meadows and streams, you’ll wade through mud up to your shins, you’ll negotiate rocks, and you’ll go over and under more downed trees than you care to remember. There is quite literally something new around every corner on this course. Expect to see moose, elk and maybe some bighorn sheep through the course of your run.
Our aim with this race is to offer a challenging ultra-distance mountain-running experience in a wild and beautiful setting. With a cut-off of 24 hours, we believe that anybody with adequate training and the requisite mental fortitude can complete this run, but please also be aware that this is a true mountain wilderness experience in challenging terrain, much of it between 10,000ft and 12,000ft. Come prepared!
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Information about the event is available in : English
The 100km (64.2 mile) course will have approximately 13,000ft of hard-earned vertical gain and 13,000 feet of equally hard-earned vertical descent, for an elevation change total of 26,000 feet.
The race will begin at an elevation of 9,100 feet at the Gould Community Center, and will set out in a southeasterly direction on two-track trail heading towards Seven Utes Mountain (11,453′), the alpine summit of which will be gained six miles into the run. The view of the sun coming up over the Nokhu Crags should be pretty special as you pop up above tree line.
From Seven Utes the route crosses a short saddle to connect to the Silver Creek trail which traverses the shoulder of Braddock Peak, before dropping into beautiful Lake Agnes under Mt Mahler and Mt Richthofen and sitting at 10,700′. Runners will follow the northern shoreline of Lake Agnes before dropping down to the Michigan Ditch service road directly below the Nokhu Crags on a short section of scree trail. The Michigan Ditch road will take runners around the northeast ridge of the Nokhu Crags to the first aid station at the base of the American Lakes trail. From the aid station, runners ascend up to the stunning American Lakes (11,200′) on the backside of the Crags. Runners will then drop back down and cross the Michigan Ditch following the American Lakes trail out to the Diamond aid station at the junction of the American Lakes and Agnes access roads.
From the aid station, runners will cross Highway 14 and ascend steeply to North Diamond Peak (11,850′), the high point on the course, from where the route will follow the summit ridge of the Medicine Bow Mountains on faint trail for approximately two miles, before descending west off the ridge on rough jeep road to the Yurt contour trail at approximately 9,600′.
The Yurt trail will not be your friend. It is rough, but will be marked well. Once negotiated, the Yurt trail spits out onto the Ruby Jewel access road which runners take back up the hillside towards Clark Peak for a mile or two before turning north onto the Hidden Valley trail. This trail will take runners back up into the alpine to the high point in Hidden Valley (11,200′), before the descent to beautiful Kelly Lake with views of the Nokhu Crags now far off in the distance to the south. From Kelly Lake the descent down the Kelly Lake trail follows the channel carved out by Kelly Creek through a mix of pine forest and huge old growth aspen groves.
From the end of the Kelly Lake trail, the course follows good forest road north for 1.5 miles to the Clear Lake trail intersection. We loved Clear Lake so much, we decided to throw in a quick 2.2 mile out and back up to the lake. Back-of-the-pack runners will be in for a special treat as they descend back from Clear Lake with an amazing sunset view across North Park to the Park Range.
With Clear Lake negotiated, at approximately 44 miles and over 10,000 feet into your day, the meat of the climbing will have been accomplished. As you loop around on the northern perimeter of the course, you’ll be treated to huge views of the mileage you’ve already accomplished, both in the Medicine Bow Mountains and Never Summer Mountains.
Your trek south will parallel the Medicine Bow range in the valley below, beginning on a mix of single track and double track bordered with vibrant Rocky Mountain wildflowers at the 8,500′ low point on the course. At the Canadian aid station (50.1 miles), you will connect with the Northern section of the Yurt trail passing across rough pasture and through pine forest on a slight upward trajectory back to Ruby Jewel Road.
From Ruby Jewel Road, it is fast downhill to the Lumberjack trail and a rolling traverse through a large meadow to the Bockman road crossing and final crew access location. The final climb is a slow grind up to the Gould Mountain saddle on a mix of forest road and rough logging roads. The final descent from the saddle will bring you out to Highway 14, which must be crossed by the Ranger Lakes Campground before the final two groomer miles into the finish.
Make no mistake, this is a tough course, but with perseverance and a steady head you will get it done, and we can’t wait to see that happen!