The Red Rock Challenge
I've been working a fair bit lately, which has limited my ability to get into the mountains. However, I still try and log one or two solid vertical days per week to keep my climbing legs and to prep for future plans. As such, trying to come up with fun long runs with lots of vert. is not as easy as it may seem here along the Front Range. The M5 Challenge is great, but it is more power hiking then running, and so I was looking for something similar but that allowed me to run for the entire time. In a scramble to come up with something, I devised what I am dubbing the Red Rock Challenge. The challenge is simple, run as many laps as you can/want on a 1 mile, 500' gain loop that goes directly through Red Rocks amphitheater. The run seems easy enough at first, but soon the laps start adding up and the vertical really gets to the legs, simply because there are really no walking/hiking breaks and every mile you gain and lose 500'. This morning I was able to bang out 16 laps before throwing in the towel - I seem to have a small bruise on the knuckle of my second toe that started to act up. So I ended up with 16 miles and 8,000' of gain in 2:29.
Some people may not like the idea of laps, but I've really been enjoying them lately. They are easy to deal with - you run by your car each lap, so you don't have to carry water, food, etc. At Red Rocks, there are so many people out exercising, running the stairs, etc., that you can basically people watch the entire time. I think this is a great challenge, and perfect for the upcoming winter as the loop should be dry all winter and is a good running course with little or no power hiking - I was by the last two laps power hiking the stairs, skipping every other one.
Seems like UROC is moving to California. I wonder if this has anything to do with the permitting issues noted by Sherpa John - which if true, are a real bummer.