Janet Day: Grand County ranches proivide common ground for running enthusiasts
Fraser Valley, CO Colorado
Trail Treats: Summer’s coming to a close; kids are going back to school, tourist numbers are dwindling. What better time to start a fun new series of events to call attention to Grand County’s past and present?
Outdoor enthusiasts from across the county joined forces in the past couple months to put together the Run the Ranches trail race series. What started as a single trail running event at Granby Ranch last year has grown to include three other ranches this year. Two more guest ranches already have asked to participate next year. The first event of the fall series will be held at Granby Ranch on Saturday. All races benefit the Headwaters Trails Alliance, which works to improve and maintain trails throughout the county.
“It’s a great way to introduce people to the trails we have to offer in Grand County, to let them know there are more than just government trails up here, more than those managed by the Forest Service or BLM,” Stephanie Scholl told me. Scholl and her husband Shawn Scholl live in Parshall, operate a business in Kremmling and run trails all over the county. They and others met with Maura McKnight of the trails alliance to talk about reviving last year’s Granby Ranch run and maybe developing some others.
“We were looking for something unique to Grand County and realized that the different places we were considering all had the word “ranch” in their name,” McKnight said. “The idea for Run the Ranches just took off from there. Devil’s Thumb Ranch got involved, then Snow Mountain Ranch was interested in being a part of the series. Then Drowsy Water came aboard and we started hearing from others.” The Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch near Parshall and Latigo Ranch near Kremmling have expressed interest in participating next year, McKnight said. She has several other ranches on her list of places to invite into the series.
“Running on trails through ranches gives the series a unique Grand County flavor,” Scholl said. “There’s nothing else like it.”
Holding the race series in the fall has several advantages, including cooler temperatures, not competing with other established events, enjoying the autumn color and show-casing guest ranches after their busy summer period has passed. Each ranch determines the routes for the races, designs their own prizes for top finishers and provides ranch-specific food for participants.
Not only is the race series a great way to attract off-season visitors, but it also allows locals to visit county guest ranches they may not otherwise experience. “A lot of people who live here don’t know what it’s like back here, what the trails are like,” said Gretta Fosha of Drowsy Water. “I love running the trails out here and think others will too.”
McKnight noted that every community in the county still has ranches nearby – working ranches, guest ranches and old ranches redeveloped for residences and outdoor recreation. When more ranches join the series, “we could have a trail run every weekend until the snow flies,” McKnight said.
Scholl sees the series as a way to get visitors into the county in the off season and provide events for locals before everyone’s absorbed with snow season jobs. “We live where people vacation,” she said. “Why not utilize it?”
All of the races include a short, two- to three-mile course, and a longer seven- to 10-mile course. I’ve been a runner on and off for more than 30 decades. Since most of my running was on pavement, my middle-aged knees are trashed, but I’m thinking a new pair of good trail shoes and a little off-road training may get me on one of the Run the Ranch routes this fall or next. For event details, go to http://www.runtheranches.com.
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