Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ouray 50 Mile Race Report - 2018

Just before the noon start
pc: Linda Hirt

The Ouray 50 Mile race was a great experience.   Early on in the race it hailed pretty steadily, covering the ground in a slick icy white layer.  There was also some good lightening and thunder, and hours of rain throughout the race. 

Before the race I thought there were four contenders for the win:  Avery Collins, Nico Barraza, Mike Cassidy, and myself.  Like old Jon Clark says, ultra-running is a race of attrition.  In the end Avery and Nico ended up dropping and I snuck in a W with a time of 14:07, shaving a couple minutes off the old course record.  My buddy, Mike finished second which I was thrilled about.  He and I put in a couple monster days in these mountains prior to race day.  I knew he was fit as a fiddle and he took care of bidness.  Last year's Ouray 100 female champion, Melissa Beaury, was 3rd overall this year in the 50 miler, setting a new course record and Alissa St. Laurent was 4th overall, both proving their big mountain aptitude in this race that had a 51% finishing rate... for a 50 miler. 

Penny greeting me at the Crystal Lake Aid Station - Mile 16
pc: Meghan Hicks

The weather was moody and fickle but it never really got that cold - perfect running weather.  The cool temps kept my stomach happy.  I drank tons of VFuel Ginger Twist drink and downed VFuel gels about every 20-30 minutes.  I was hungry and tried to keep up with the calories.  This all worked well until I ate too much real food at an aid station, and left with diluted red bull in my water bottle for the last section.  It was late, I thought the red bull would help keep me awake.  Unfortunately, it just made me puke and it turned the last 10 miles of the race into a bit of a death march up Bridge of Heaven, then a shuffle down.

The glorious Hayden Trail.  Red No. 1 and Storm Peak in the background.
pc: Howie Stern

I said it last year when I ran the Ouray 100 and I'll say it again this year, I highly recommend these races.  They are low key events on terrain that's tough and gorgeous.  Before I ever ran one of these races I was turned off by all the out and backs.  But when you're hiking slowly up the steep out, then bombing down the breakneck descent back, it is like you're running on two entirely different trails.  They out and backs also allow you to see more smiling/delirious faces in the race, which is more fun than just running by yourself for hours like we sometimes do in ultras.

Congratulations to my friend, Vale Hirt, for finishing the Ouray 100!  She unsuccessfully toed the line last year, and managed to come back and finish the beast this year.  Something only 38% of the starters can say.  She looked strong and smooth all day out there.  I'm excited to watch her running continue to progress and my fingers are crossed for you in the Hardrock lottery next year.


Other gear:

My Julbo sunglasses with photochromic lenses functioned perfectly as the lighting fluctuated constantly during the daytime, from cloudy to sunny, dense forest to bright alpine tundra.

My Drymax Jester socks kept my feet happy all day.  No blisters after 14+ hours in the rain on steep rocky trails.


  1. Right on, brother! Well said. Great write-up.

  2. Awesome work Chris! It was nice meeting you in line before the race and as you blazed past is on the trail. I’m sure I’ll see you around in races to come!