Local runner plans ultra marathon in Fraser Valley
July 14, 2015
Imagine running a marathon course that includes thousands of feet of climbing.
Now imagine running that marathon above 8,000 feet in altitude.
Now imagine doing four of them back to back.
What you've just imagined isn't some runner's masochistic fantasy – it's a very real subset of foot race called an ultra marathon, or ultra for short.
Colorado is home to quite a few of them, including one of the most well known ultra marathons in the continental United States – the Leadville Trail 100.
Now, a Winter Park-based ultra-athlete is working to start the Fraser Valley's very own ultra marathon.
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Tyler Tomasello calls it the Hideaway Park Trail Weekend, and it includes four races, a half-marathon, a 50k, a 50-mile race and a 100-mile race.
Today, Tomasello is a well-known figure in the ultra running community and a sponsored athlete, but it wasn't until five or six years ago that he started taking running seriously, he said.
Before then, Tomasello said, "It was kind of a thing for fitness. Snowboarding was the primary thing."
Since getting into ultra running, Tomasello hasn't looked back.
Running for excruciatingly long distances allows Tomasello to "transcend the physical.
"You learn a lot about yourself during that period," he said. "It's kind of hard to explain. I guess it's just that communion with nature that you get while you're out there."
As a sponsored athlete, Tomasello has run some of the most well known ultras in the world, including the Leadville Trail 100, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100, and Ultramaraton Caballo Blanco, an ultra held in Mexico's Copper Canyon and documented in author Christopher McDougall's 2009 book "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and The Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen."
McDougall's book was one of the first popular works to catapult ultra running into the public eye.
Tomasello has participated in the Copper Canyon race for four years.
For him, the competition embodies what running is all about.
"I felt this sense of community, and that whole aspect of running is really what drew me in," Tomasello said.
And it's that aspect that Tomasello hopes to share through his new race.
"The reason I want to bring it here is to share these experiences I've had," Tomasello said.
And the Fraser Valley is a gorgeous place to boot.
"I travel a lot for the sport, but when I get back here I always think, 'This is one of the most beautiful places around,'" Tomasello said.
Pending permitting from the Town of Winter Park, the race weekend is scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6.
Tomasello said he hopes the race will be a boon to businesses during the lull between seasons.
All proceeds from the race will go toward Grand County Search and Rescue.
The proposed course for the Hideaway Park Trail Weekend's 100-mile race will take runners on a grueling but beautiful tour through the Fraser Valley and along the Continental Divide.
Starting in Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park, the racecourse winds its way through the trails of Idlewild before taking racers on a high altitude romp between Rollins and Rogers passes.
"It's pretty much where I spend most of my time," Tomasello said of the course.
The U.S. Forest Service is on board with the plan, Tomasello said.
Drew Nelson, Winter Park town manager, said he was awaiting a complete special event application for the race before moving forward with the special event approval process.
So far, 61 people have signed up to participate in the event, and Tomasello said he expects two to three times more.
Already, the race is making a buzz in the ultra running community.
"Everybody is super, super excited about it," Tomasello said.
The race already has registrants from Australia, Europe and Mexico, Tomasello said, but the aim of the event isn't to put on an outsized extravaganza.
"For this I just really wanted to keep it down to earth like Winter Park," Tomasello said. "Just keep it real, keep it local, kind of like races used to be back in the day."
For more information about the Hideaway Park Trail Weekend, visit hideawayrunning.com or find Hideaway 100 on Facebook.
Runners can register for the race at ultrasignup.com.
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