More than 300 runners took to the mountains north of Taos Sept. 14 for what is arguably one of the most beautiful and toughest …
More than 300 runners took to the mountains north of Taos Sept. 14 for what is arguably one of the most beautiful and toughest marathon and half-marathon courses in the United States.
It was the fourth year for the high-altitude Bull of the Woods trail races. Both the half-marathon and full marathon take runners to the summit of Fraser Peak at 12,163 feet elevation. Marathoners also summit Kachina Peak.
John Derek Foster Madison Dusseau from Mammoth Lakes, California, a member of the NativesOutdoors athletic club, tackles a portion of the Bull of the Woods marathon Saturday (Sept. 14) that began at Taos Ski Valley. "The caliber of mountain runners has also expanded with many elite runners from all over the state of New Mexico and notable national elite professional mountain runners such as Katie Arnold (2018 Leadville 100 champion) and Sabrina Stanley (2018 Hardrock 100 champion)," said co-organizer Tze Yong via email. "Furthermore, the Bull of the Woods Trail Races attracted runners from 23 different states, the Netherlands and even the famous Tarahumara runners from Copper Canyon, Mexico."
The youngest runner for the 26.2 mile course was David Hedges, 21, from Colorado Springs, who was the overall marathon winner. Taking first for the women was Katie Arnold, a Santa Fe ultrarunner.
The oldest marathon runner this year was hardy as heck Gail Leedy, 65, from Albuquerque.
In the half-marathon, 12-year-old Jonah Pratt was the youngest runner to complete the little more than 14 mile race. The most senior half-marathon runner was Deborah Chase, 70, of Arroyo Seco.
"The half-marathon and marathon courses have a majority of the miles at over 10,000 feet in elevation," said Yong. "Not only is elevation a factor, but the rugged and steep climb to Kachina Peak at 12,481 feet and descent down Highline Ridge leave runners both mentally and physically fatigued. While the marathon boasts over 7,000 feet elevation gain, the half-marathon has approximately 3,200 feet."
Yong and co-race organizer Bradley Higdon are both distance runners.
"Tze and I both love the energy of a trail race, especially a race in the mountains," Higdon said. "Running in the mountains is pure and simple, yet unrelentingly hard and humbling. We know we have a special venue for races in the Taos area--at the Northside at Taos Ski Valley property and in the ski area. We just wanted to bring that special energy here and showcase our mountains, featuring Kachina Peak and Frazer Mountain."
Organizing the event was a team effort led by Yong, Higdon noted. "We worked closely with Taos Sky Valley Inc. and Northside at Taos Ski Valley, who essentially hosted the event, along with the Village of Taos Ski Valley. Carl Colonius, with Enchanted Circle Trails Association, served as our volunteer coordinator, and Taos Search and Rescue also provided critical support."
Most important, Higdon said, were "enthusiastic and reliable volunteers from the community."
He added, "All the finer details from the colors of our course markings, to aid station menus, to developing course maps - everything was a team effort."
Most of the on ground work happens in the few days leading up to race day. "The course gets marked, water jugs get filled, bib numbers are assigned, packet pickup is conducted and countless other tasks are carried out. We were pulling up to the Bavarian area at 4 a.m. with fresh batteries in our headlamps," Higdon said.
Higdon said for all the elite runners that participated this year, "I personally was most inspired by those at the back of the pack, those that struggled the longest out on the course and displayed the most relentless perseverance. When they crossed the finish line, their 'self-owe' and yet utter humility made it all worthwhile. They're the ones we were really out there for."
All net proceeds from the race go to a local nonprofit. This year the proceeds "will benefit the Enchanted Circle Trails Association," said Yong, "which works to promote trail maintenance, development, safe bike lanes and trail advocacy in the Enchanted Circle."
Madison Dusseau from Mammoth Lakes, California, a member of the NativesOutdoors athletic club, tackles a portion of the Bull of the Woods marathon Saturday (Sept. 14) that began at Taos Ski Valley.
In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.