Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Winter Trail Running Options: Magnolia Road and NCAR Road

We have been getting some really nice days here along the Front Range of Colorado. Although the mountains continue to get snow (and we have a couple new movies in the works although I sure like our last telemark movie), down low here along the Front Range the sun has been shining and the snow has failed to hit the ground.

Although my winter training run is one that I can run from home, sometimes I break it up to get in some bigger hills, or to get in a little altitude. There are two runs I'd like to share today that most people know about, but for some reason fail to think of as good runs: The NCAR Road and Magnolia Road.

The NCAR Road run simply the road that turns from Table Mesa Drive into the NCAR road and takes you up the mesa to NCAR. Straight up, then straight down. This is not a run you would do any other time, but if it is snowy out - or in my case - if it is dark, this run is an excellent option. 1.5 miles one way, I generally do around three laps on it for a session (around 9 miles and a couple hundred feet in elevation gain). You can run along the side of the road on the dirt, which is free of holes, rocks, or anything else allowing you to run at night. The view of Boulder from the top at night is great. I did this several times over December and January when the light was fleeting.

The other great run for winter trail run training is Magnolia Road. At 15.33 miles long, this high mountain dirt road is an excellent one to put in some good miles at altitude during the winter months (note: I would never run this in summer as the road gets dusty and there are many better options once the snow melts out). Tara and I did this last week in reverse, starting from the Peak-to-Peak Highway pull out just past Nederland back along the road until you hit pavement. Then you turn around and make the run back to the car. If you go all the way, you are looking at 30 miles on dirt at 8,000-9,000 feet; not bad for a February training run! Below is a map of the Magnolia Run from Map My Fitness. I never use the site, but it does put out some cool maps for training purposes.

So, if you are in need of some running options in the Boulder area during winter, and the trails are snow covered or it is night, try the NCAR Road or Magnolia Road. They are sure to keep your training strong and on track.

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