MONTROSE – The Western Slope has a lot of running enthusiasts, and one of the most challenging races on their agenda is the Black Canyon Ascent, set this year for May 14.
In its 36th year, the six-mile run and “challenge walk” will benefit the Montrose Community Foundation.
To register, log onto www.blackcanyonraces.com/ascent2.html. Registration and packet pickup will be held the day before, on May 13, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at 316 East Main St. Contact race director Scott Shine at 970/901-9667 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
“This year’s race will be bigger and better than ever,” Shine said. “We’ve drawn in more sponsors than ever, we’re bringing in professional chip timing so runners will get an accurate and recordable time.”
At the end of the race, runners and onlookers can enjoy great food, raffles and entertainment at the end of the race at the Visitor’s Center of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Shine said.
The race starts at the base of Black Canyon and covers “a tough, scenic six-mile course starting at an elevation of 6,500 feet and climbing almost 2,000 feet,” according to the website. Walkers will start at 7:30 a.m. and runners will begin at 8 a.m.
As an added incentive for runners and walkers, Shine said entrants will get a discount to the Montrose Wine and Food Festival events, which will be going on the same weekend. This year’s race will also feature custom printed T-shirts, overall and group awards and a $200 bonus incentive for a new course record. Course records for runners to beat are a time of 40:08 by Simon Gutierrez in 2008 in the men’s division, and 45:06 in 2009 by Brandy Erholtz in the women’s division.
Awards will be given for overall first, second and third in male and female categories; masters first, second and third, both male and female, and first place for male in female in one of six age groups, from under 19 to over 60. Youth under 13 can register for free with an adult registration.
The Black Canyon Ascent is organized and run by the San Juan Mountain Runners, and a major sponsor of this year’s race is the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism, Shine said.
San Juan Mountain Runners will also run the first annual North Rim 20K at Black Canyon on Oct. 9 and the Winter Rim Romp featuring snowshoe races and adventure hiking on Jan. 14, 2012.
The website of the running club, www.sjmr.org, states that it’s “a group of enthusiastic runners of all ages and abilities,” and most hail from Montrose, Gunnison, Delta, Ouray and San Miguel counties. The club holds local races for runners and walkers as well as “fun runs” and potluck dinners throughout the year. Club membership applications are available at the website, at a cost of $10 for individuals or $15 for family memberships.
Members of the running club also participate in other fundraising races, including the Run for Shelter to benefit Tri County Resources on April 30 and the Mount Sneffels Half-Marathon on Aug. 13, a fundraiser for the Mounts Sneffels Education Foundation.