Best races in Colorado that you probably haven’t heard of yet – The Denver Post

Best races in Colorado that you probably haven’t heard of yet  The Denver Post

Here are some of the best lesser-known Colorado races to run in 2019 as curated by both The Know and our readers.

The Garden of the Gods 10-mile and 10K race features challenging climbs but breathtaking scenery with enormous red rock formations jutting upright out of the ground. The race dates back to 1977. (Provided by Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc)

Last week we published our annual list of Colorado’s best running races, and we asked readers to tell us about some great ones that aren’t so well known. Here are some of their submissions, along with a few of our own.

March 31: West Side Best Side cross country races. This is a three-race series designed to remind adults of what it was like to run cross country when they were in their high school glory days, right down to the old-school popsicle-stick scoring system and retro T-shirts. You could run as an individual, but why not run as a team (five run, three score)? Middle school and high school teams receive a break on pricing. The March race will take place at Fehringer Ranch in open space west of D’Evelyn High School. The other two races in the series typically take place in November and February at open spaces on the west side of the metro area.

May 18: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Run to the Shrine 4-miler. So you think a four-mile race sounds too easy? What if we told you it has a vertical rise of 1,000 feet? OK, now perhaps now it sounds too difficult. But maybe you’ll think it’s worth it because the race from the zoo up to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun (elev. 8,136 feet) and back down offers stunning views of Colorado Springs below.

Runners participate in the annual Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run at Bear Basin Ranch, to benefit the San Isabel Land Protection Trust. (Greg Smith, provided by Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run)

June 1: Hardscrabble Mountain 10K trail run, 5K walk/run. This is a chance to run on a private mountain ranch near Westcliffe in the high country west of Pueblo that comes with panoramic views of the spectacular Sangre de Cristo mountains. Courses at the Bear Basin Ranch feature a mix of Jeep trails, cross-country meadows and horse trails. The start and finish are at 8,913 feet, and the 10K gains 1,083 of elevation (475 feet for the 5K). The race benefits the San Isabel Land Protection Trust.

A runner checks out one of the animals during the Into the Wild Running Festival 10K/5K. (Provided by The Wild Animal Sanctuary)

June 1: Into the Wild Running Festival 10K/5K. Run beside fields that are home to live lions, tigers and bears. Yes, you read that right. These races take place (and benefit) the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, which rescues animals from zoos and circuses. Animals that previously spent their lives in cages get to roam open spaces at the sanctuary, which makes sure they are well fed and receive veterinary care. The 10,473-acre refuge is home to more than 500 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large animals.

June 9: Garden of the Gods 10-mile/10K. This one could have been put on last week’s list of best Colorado races, and it’s not really a little known race, but if you’re new to Colorado you might not be aware of it. The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, a city park dating back to 1909 with National Natural Landmark designation, has soaring redrock sandstone formations and steep roads that make this a grueling but rewarding race. It has stood the test of time, with a legacy stretching back to 1977.

RELATED: 20 must-do running races in Colorado in 2019

June 15: Rock N Run 5K. Start and finish on the track at Jefferson County Stadium, where the state high school track and field championships are held annually, with a course on residential streets in a beautiful Lakewood neighborhood. Then eat Chick-fil-A sandwiches.This is a great family-oriented, church-sponsored event that typically attracts more than 500 runners and walkers.

Aug. 17: Mount Sneffels marathon/half marathon. Find out why they call this part of the state the Switzerland of America. The half marathon runs downhill from Ouray to Ridgway on dirt roads along the Uncompahgre River. The marathon course is an out-and-back from Ridgway to Ouray and back, rising and descending 800 feet. Your race bib comes with a tab good for half-off admission to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, and who doesn’t want to sit in some soothing warm spring water after a long race?

Sept. 15: Farmers 5000, Wheat Ridge. This race supports school programs at Wheat Ridge High School, but it’s also one of the biggest community celebrations in the city of Wheat Ridge and dates back to 1981. It’s the epitome of a cool local race, starting and finishing at the school and running mostly through a residential neighborhood.

Oct. 27: The Stride, Littleton. Formerly known as the Littleton Stride, this is another school-oriented event that became an annual community celebration. Marking its 24th year this fall, it has a beautiful but hilly 10K that locals consider a point of pride to finish, and part of it follows the Highline Canal. The 5K is less demanding but also is beautiful. The races, which tend to attract about 2,500 runners and walkers, benefit the Littleton Public Schools Foundation, which distributes funds to LPS schools.

The Rim Rock Run takes place on the spectacular Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. It involves tough climbs but incredible scenery and see-forever vistas. (Kate Avery, Special to The Denver Post)

Nov. 2: Rim Rock Run, Colorado National Monument. Runners in Grand Junction know about this race, but it’s not so well known on the Front Range. There could hardly be a more spectacular course in Colorado than running past the majestic sandstone rock formations that make this landscape a national geological treasure. The marathon starts east of the monument and passes through the East Entrance at 4,930 feet. It climbs Rim Rock Drive and traverses the monument — hitting a high point of 6,640 feet — before descending the monument’s north end and finishing in Fruita. There also is a half marathon option (starting atop the monument and finishing in Fruita) and a two-person relay.

And here are a couple to put on your calendar for next year:

— The Rio Frio 5K in Alamosa takes place on the frozen Rio Grande River in January, featuring views of the San Juan range to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east. This year the race was held on Jan. 26.

— The Fast and Frozen 5K/10K/20K is a fun winter event held at Chatfield State Park. This year it was held on Feb. 25.

Do you have more suggestions for great lesser-known Colorado races? Leave them in the comments below!