Trail Ridge half

Race Review: Castle Rock Trail Festival Ridgeline Half-Marathon 2017

Trail Ridge half

This is a review of the Castle Rock Trail Festival Ridgeline Half-Marathon 2017.

First, a quick introduction to how I review races.

Races, to me, serve a purpose. I am not a gazelle and will never win any of these races, so I pick runs that are long and will challenge me. It is easy to stay with 5K’s, finish in a half hour and move on with your life. I want more than that. I want an experience and the half-marathon always seems to be a very rewarding distance. Things start to get ugly for me around the 8 to 9 miles mark and that gives me a good 5 miles to sort my life out. In a review we need to look at a couple things.

  • Did the race challenge me?
  • Was it well planned and organized?
  • Were there still beer and pancakes at the finish line. You know, that kind of stuff.

The History

This is my second year running this race. For me, the Trail Ridge run is the quintessential trail race. It is almost all up and down with a couple flat spots thrown in for fun. The fact that it is hard also makes it the gold standard to test your running. You can check out my previous post here, to hear about the troubles I had last year at this race. In short, I blew out the right calf at about mile 1.5 and the other one at mile 3. Basically I ran the last 10 miles on two calves that were seizing up with every step. Have you ever strained a calf and feel it tear a little with each step? That was me last year. I hobbled across the finish line and found a bench, unable to make it back to the car. It was then and there I plotted out my revenge on this race. I never said I was smart but I am vengeful.

So in the last 12 months I have worked on my midfoot strike, put a lot of effort into form and spent some time on the Castle Rock Steps. I couldn’t wait for the day to take my vengeance against these mountains.

The People

Castle Rock Trail Festival

The castle Rock Trail festival is just off 1-25 and Plum Creek Rd. inside the Phillip S. Miller park. It is easy to get to and parking is a snap. As you can see, the finish line is also the start line. All the volunteers were upbeat and the announcer did a great job of staggering the start. That is an important but often overlooked detail in these races. Let the gazelles fly and let the rest of us mosey on down the trail.

Trail runners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Except for the old guy that yelled at me for wearing headphones, everyone was a joy to be around. In all fairness, this incident occurred on top of a mesa and everyone was set in their pacing. No one had passed anyone for a few miles so there was no reason to think anyone would be passing me. Oh, and there was plenty of room to pass. Okay, he was right, no need to wear headphones on a trail run. If anything, you can’t hear the rattlesnakes that way.

The only thing I would warn people about is that this is a hard race. If you are new to trail running or just getting back in shape, the Bear Chase may be a better choice for you. Or just do the 10K version of this one.

Unless you are like me and do both. The Bear Chase on Sunday and the Trail Ridge the following Saturday. I guess I forgot to mention the Ragnar 7 Summit Challenge I also did that week. No wonder my legs were tired. No excuses, I like a challenge.  Anyway, great people, the volunteers were very friendly and it was a good time.

The Course

Castle Rock Trail Fest

Castle Rock Trail FestCastle Rock Trail Fest

Castle Rock Trail Fest

Well hell, take a look at it. You get the idea. Some people flew through it, others, like me, chugged. That doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy getting my butt kicked again because I did. Things started breaking down around mile 8 and I just had to settle into that grind. At that point the feet hurt, hips hurt and I was just tired but that is also the time where you can bring out the best and the best races force you to cope with adversity.



Trail ridge 2017

trail ridge elevationtrail ridge 2017


So What I take out of this race?

What can you take out of this race?

I can’t say I am impressed with my time but it is an honest time. That was all I had to give on that day. I thought it would be faster but that is how it goes sometimes. This time is about 1 minute slower than my Bear Chase time and is about 3 minutes slower than my half marathon pace on asphalt. That gives you an idea of the quality of terrain you have to deal with. One last thing, they did have beer at the end of the race but the line was too long. I had margaritas waiting for me at Hacienda Colorado. Great race, see you next year.