These notes are meant to give racers a general idea of the traditional race route. The final course will be described at the Pre Race Meeting on Friday, March 28 at 11:00 a.m. Due to weather and snow safety concerns, the course cannot be finalized until then. Substantial changes to the first three miles of the course are possible due to private property concerns.
Please check the website homepage for the most current race course description. All course updates will be relayed via the website, and again at the mandatory pre-race meeting. Distances and elevations should be calculated by individual racers based on their study of the relevant topographic maps.
The race begins in the town of Crested Butte at the Community School at midnight. From the starting line racers will follow a marked course across the meadows of the Town Ranch, pick up the old upper loop trail, skirt along Hunter Hill Road, drop into the T-Bar hill, and parade through the base area below the Silver Queen Lift.
After the parade, the racers will climb up and over the ski area to the bottom of the East River lift, race will cross the East River Valley (private property; not accessible before or after the race!), turn downstream (right), and head towards Brush Creek Road. At Brush Creek Road the race turns “left” towards the next check point at Death Pass.
The course follows Brush Creek Road until it turns onto East Brush Creek, FS Trail 400. The race climbs Trail 400 up past the Friends Hut (aid station nearby) and through Star Pass. Star Pass is the second and last mandatory time cut-off point. Racers who haven’t made it beyond this point at a time (usually around 8:00 a.m.) will be required to return to Crested Butte. The official time will be determined the day before the race and based on the avalanche safety just beyond the pass.
From Star Pass the course continues to Taylor Pass on FS Trail 761.A and then along the Richmond Hill Road (FS 123) to the Barnard Hut. At the Barnard Hut, there will be a mandatory medical check and 10-minute stopover. From the Barnard Hut the race will stay on Richmond Hill Road (traveling north) until reaching the Aspen Mountain Ski Area at the Sun Deck (top of the Gondola). Racers will then ski down Aspen Mountain on the Spar Gulch Run to the finish line at the bottom of the Gondola.
Except through the private property at the beginning of the course in Crested Butte, this course will not be marked in any substantial way. Racers must be prepared to find their own route to the aid stations and mandatory checkpoints. This is a backcountry race and participants will have only limited support once they are on the course.
Motorized vehicle are not allowed from Brush Creek to Star Pass, so evacuation is by sled only. Racers must be prepared to self-rescue and be self-supported in the event of an emergency. Please read Race Rules.