On your Mark, Get Set, Go: The Imogene Pass Run
On Saturdays, the high mountains around Telluride are usually very idyllic without an overwhelming number of people—a handful of bikers, jeepers and hikers. However, this Saturday September 6, is not your typical Saturday as it is the Imogene Pass Run, a physically demanding race that attracts 1500 hearty souls willing to take on the challenge of running 17.1 miles from Ouray to Telluride over Imogene Pass. With an elevation gain of over 5,000 feet and a top altitude of 13,120 feet, this run is not for the faint of heart.
The first known run over Imogene Pass was done by Rick Trujillo on Tuesday, August 6, 1974 when he ran from Ouray over Imogene Pass to Telluride as a training run for the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado Springs. A chance encounter with some Telluride folk resulted in a race being established. On September 29, 1974 six runners participated in the first “Imogene Pass Mountain Marathon” Rick was the first to cross the finish line in 2:21:18
Now in its 41st year, the event has increased dramatically in size and importance since its humble beginnings back in 1974. Where once it was an adventure run for a few pioneers, today the race is immensely popular and the number of registrants is restricted due to safety and logistical reasons. This year, the race sold out in a record 58 minutes!
The challenging course, the altitude, the steep and rocky terrain and the weather, (especially the weather, as some years it can be hailing or snowing up high) make the Imogene Pass Run a huge accomplishment for those who take it on. Runners cross the finish line in a variety of conditions. The strongest runners sprint and look like they could bust out 10 more miles; many are exhausted; some are scraped up from a misstep along the way; and a fair share are limping but they all have one thing in common—a grin from ear to ear as they cross the finish line at Oak Street, as crowds cheer them with a warm welcome to Telluride.