Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Family Day Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
We Did It!
We actually did it—ran up a mountain and back down. Well, to be quite honest, we hiked up, not ran, but we did run most of the way down. A few weeks back I wrote a post about Taos Ski Valley’s annual Up and Over 10K Run, in which participants run up a mountain for 3 miles, gaining over 2600 feet of elevation, than run back down. My husband Terry thought it would be a fun thing to do; I thought he was crazy, but eventually agree to do it with him.
We arrived at the Taos Ski Valley about 8:30 pm on Saturday, August 3rd, in time to pick up our packets containing our numbers and tee shirts and to use the restroom. Once that was completed, we milled about awaiting the start, chatting casually with other runners waiting there, most of them noticeably younger than we were. Some regular racing types were taking “warm-up” runs up a mile or so of the ascending trail. I figured I had one run in me and if I gave it up for the warm-up I would be out of luck. We stretched a bit and waited.
The 9 a.m. start time came and went. As with most things Taos, the event started about ten minutes late. We were given a few instructions about the trail, then the gun sounded and we were off, a mass of humanity attempting to run through a chute about ten feet wide and onto the actual trail, comprised of a series of downhill ski runs in the winter months. The small trail up to the ski trail on which we would be running was quite steep, but thankfully, short. Once we reached the trail, Terry and I were ready to stop running and pace ourselves by hiking for awhile. Most other participants did so as well.
Our strategy had been to stay near the back of the pack and let the fast runners take the lead early. Then, it would boost our morale if we were able to pass a few runners heading up, rather than being passed by the faster runners as would have happened had we positioned ourselves near the front of the pack. Our strategy worked well.
The gazelles took off like a shot and were soon out of sight. We found ourselves walking/hiking with a group of people moving at a more moderate pace. And we were actually able to pass a handful of them as we ascended the course. We had been promised our first aid station half way to the top. I am certain it was more like a half kilometer past that point as I was very thirsty by then and vigilantly watching for it. Downing two cups of cold water quickly, we moved on. Soon we completed kilometer four and then the seemingly endless and very steep fifth kilometer, which would take us to the top of the trail. We were able to pass a few more hikers from our pack on this last leg of the ascent.
Finally reaching the aid station at the top an hour and ten minutes into our run, we had climbed 2,612 feet in elevation, from 9,207 to 11, 819, and we were nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. An aid worker promised us: “It’s all downhill from here.” He was not joking! It was downhill and steep, covered in gravel and rock, making for quite a slippery surface for the first 2-3 kilometers of the descent. Finally, however, the trail leveled out and became more of a forest trail, rather than a rocky road. We finally broke into a jog and felt like we were making some good progress. We stretched out and covered some ground, reaching the last leg of the trail, then turning sharply back down the chute and over the finish line at an hour and 58 minutes.
We grabbed some water to rehydrate and walked to the car to change our shoes before heading back to the resort area for the free lunch that was included with our registration. An awards ceremony started as we were eating and prizes were awarded to the top three finishers in each age group. I was informed that I won third place among women over 50 and was given a Taos Ski Valley cap. Now to be fair, I am not convinced there were more than three women over 50 who even entered this race. Still, the prize was a nice bonus! I would be willing to do this again!
And we met some of nicest people! Several of the young people we had chatted with before the race were cheering us on at the finish line and waited to see how we did. There were also many families with children present in which one parent ran the race and the other parent and children cheered him on. And the final finisher was an 85 year old man who does the run every year and always comes in last–but he always finishes!
For any of you willing to join me next year, you may park RVs in the massive ski valley parking lot for up to seven days and there are also a series of lovely forest service campgrounds all along State Road 150, also known as Ski Valley Road for those wishing to camp. The resort also offers discounted rates in the summer months so that can be quite affordable as well. Are you up for it?
Read more about New Mexico camping and things to do in New Mexico.