Hideaway Trail Run preview
August 30, 2016
Tyler Tomasello's feet say a lot about the life he leads. They are leathery from the sun and calloused from thousands of miles run on Grand County trails, wrapped only with the thin straps holding simple rubber sandals to the soles. He has run dozens of races across the US and in Mexico at ultramarathon distances ranging from 50 kilometers to 100 miles, all in minimal footwear produced by his sponsor, Seattle-based Luna Sandals. The design is based on the footwear used by the Tarahumara people in the Copper Canyons region of Mexico, made famous by Christopher McDougall's 2009 book Born to Run. He says he's only ever run 10 miles in shoes, and he didn't enjoy it.
His resume includes some of the sport's most iconic races, from the Leadville 100 to the Tahoe Rim Trail to the Speedgoat 50k. He lives in Winter Park and works at the Winter Park Trading Company, an outdoor gear retailer and consignment store.
Over the last several years, Tomasello has worked to bring the ultrarunning world to Grand County. In 2015, he organized the inaugural Hideaway Hundred outside Winter Park, which included race distances from 50 kilometers to 100 miles. The race drew athletes from around the state and nation to a county that has the vast public lands and trail networks necessary for this kind of event, but an almost non-existent local running community.
"I think it's cool for my friends and people I care about from all over the world to come here and see what we have, because it's kind of untouched as far as trail running goes," Tomasello said.
Tomasello said he learned a lot from putting together last year's inaugural edition of the race. This year, the race will offer three race distances: half-marathon, 50-kilometer, and 100-kilometer. The start/finish line will be at Hideaway Park in Winter Park. All three courses will loop through trails in the Corona Pass area, including Riflesight, Twisted Ankle and Yankee Doodle. The 50k and 100k courses will split off for a long, steady climb to a turn around at 11,877-foot Rogers Pass. The 50k race covers one circuit of this course, while the 100k adds a second circuit in the reverse direction.
There were isolated issues related to course marking in the race last year, but Tomasello said he's been obsessive about marking the roads and trails this year.
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Medals before the start
One unique feature of the race is that participants will receive a medal before the race even starts, but they go beyond the typical participation trophy. They are called Milagros, and are comprised of a thin cord that carries a small piece of metal shaped like a leg. It's drawn from Mexican tradition Tomasello picked up while traveling back and forth to the Copper Canyons. The piece is meant to protect the particular body part it resembles from injury.
"It's supposed to protect them throughout the run so they stay safe," he said. "It's a little different, but I want it to be different."
While the trail running scene in Grand County remains small, a few local runners have a shot at pushing a solid pace over the 100k course.
One is Dusty Olson, an extremely accomplished ultrarunner made famous for pacing Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant racers in the sport's history, to many of his biggest victories. Olson hasn't raced consistently since he contracted Lyme disease five years ago during the Minnesota Voyageur 50-mile in his home state. The disease wrecked his body, and he had to stop running completely in order to recover. In mid May, doctors gave him the ok to start training again, and in June he returned to the Voyageur and placed eight in seven hours and 43 minutes, re-conquering the race that sidelined him for five years.
Tomasello raced the Leadville 100 on Aug. 20, but had to drop out after less than 30 miles. Olson was set to pace him in that race, and said Tomasello probably pushed too hard in the beer mile in Leadville the day before the race.
Olson now rents a house from friends in Tabernash, having sold his house in Duluth, Minnesota. He expects to become a full-time Grand County resident moving forward, after frequently spending winters in Winter Park and other Colorado ski towns. He spent his first summer in Grand Lake 16 years ago, working at Hernando's pizza and running the trails on Corona pass.
"Things are low key and mellow in Winter Park, you're an hour and a half from everything. I like the sleepy tone of the valley," Olson said. He works as a carpenter in the valley along with training for trail races. Olson supplements running with marathon canoe training, paddling a long slender racing canoe on Grand Lake and Granby.
Olson met Tomasello through a small facebook-organized group trail run in Winter Park. He credits Tomasello for developing a grassroots trail community, pointing out that in a lot of places those communities are built around shops trying to sell shoes.
Olson's made a habit of running the long stretch of the course up to the Continental Divide every time he makes a trip back and forth to Denver.
"I like being at altitude, and running up above treeline to James peak, you've got to put yourself in a different zone. It's about controlling breathing and keeping your legs moving."
But he maintains he's just getting into running again and doesn't have any goals in terms of what he wants to do.
"I'm just there to have a good time and enjoy the sport," he said.
Tomasello has a long-term vision for the race, such that he procured a 10-year permit from the US Forest Service for the race. He has plans to add a cross-country division to the program in the future.
Registration and volunteer information can be found at hideawayrunning.com.