To me, late July in Colorado reminds me of beautiful wildflowers, afternoon rains and one of the most epic races of them them all, the Colorado Trail Race. Racers take off tomorrow, Sunday, July 23rd, at 4:00am. Ever since 2013 the race has alternated directions. This year 60 riders will set out tomorrow before the sun rises in Durango to start the 530 mile pedal to Denver. Over the next few days we will update this page with news, stats, and a bit of personal perspective. (Most updated information can be found towards the top of the page.)

You can play along by tracking the event in the map below:  

7.29.17 – 8:00am
Some years are fast, some years are slow, this year was the latter, but we need to remember this does not take away anything from anyone. This year, racers endured more suffer, on top of an already big sufferfest. Yesterday morning we had our first finisher. Seth Michael. Seth finished with a time of 5 days, 5 hours and 40 minutes. He won a thrilling in which he came out of nowhere from Copper Mountain to pass Chris overnight and not look back. Our 2nd place finisher is Greg Lewis from Durango. Greg finished in 5 days, 16 hours, and 18 minutes. Both racers were rookies.

7.27.17 – 10:00pm
I’ve dealt with my share of rainy days and storms on the Colorado Trail since 2012, but I don’t think any of them can beat the combination of storms that have come through the state this week. It has put many racers in a tough position, and has added to the pain already associated with a rugged 500+ mile bikepacking race. Today, we have seen what appears to be two major scratches. Yesterday at this time, Chris Plesko and Jonathan Basham were 1st and 2nd respectively, tonight, they find themselves not pedaling but rather eating and sleeping, and spending time with their loved ones. I still don’t have official word on Jonathan, but his spot has not updated, and word has it he got a room last night in Copper. We have not seen movement from his dot since. This afternoon, Chris Plesko pulled the plug too, detouring to HWY 285 after descending Georgia Pass. 

One person that has taken full advantage of recent events is Seth Michael. Seth is currently on the last of the 6 Wilderness detours, bypassing the Lost Creek Wilderness area. Once he reaches the Colorado Trail again, he only has 3 more segments left, where much of the trail is relatively fun riding. Seth is project to finish around mid day tomorrow, but I would imagine it will be sometime in the morning even with a quick snooze tonight.

7.27.17 – 2:00pm
Not too sue whats going on but Chris has gone off route into the small town of Jefferson. There is a burger place there, and I hope that’s the only reason he is there as that is a pretty significant detour. It appears his dot is located at the restaurant. Seth now has a very comfortable lead. 
7.27.17 – 6:30M
Leaderboard Update:
Out of nowhere, Seth Michael has taken the lead in this years Colorado Trail Race. It looks like he just passed Chris on his way down the 10 mile range. I looked at Seth’s position last night and it appeared his spot went dark early so I thought he was sleeping, but his spot pinged near Copper late last night. He made good time up the beginning portion of the 10 mile range before sleeping for 2 hours. Chris ended up having his biggest sleep of the entire race last night, with what looks like 5 hours of stopped time. Seth ended up passing him this morning, and appears to be bypassing Breckenridge, so he must have enough food until the Stagestop Saloon. It’s been more than 8 hours since Jonathan’s tracker has updated from this location at the gas station in Copper, so he too may be up there, or he turned his spot off and took a room at the resort. Either way, this should be an exciting ending. This reminds me of 2013 when Jefe and Jesse came into Breckenridge at the same time. They now only have one more big climb, Georgia pass, until things get fast. Last night I was thinking that if Chris created a nice cushion, he could eek this thing out, but with the overall fast riding coming up, gears should perform faster.
Screenshot / Trackleaders.com


Apple
Many know Apple, the trail angel of Cochetopa Park. While you should never count on him being there, the odds are pretty good he is located somewhere in the area serving up free food and drinks to Colorado Trail users. I think it’s safe to say he is a savior for many, especially this year.
 



7.26.17 – 10:00pm
Things dried out a bit today, which I’m sure was a relief for many. That being said, there are still some pretty big storms building, many of them near the front range and east of Salida and Buena Vista. That will certainly lift many racers spirits, but it may be too late for many. There has been more official scratches today and many who have not moved in over a day. I can count at least 25 unofficial scratches on Trackleaders.com, and at least a handful of others that have gone off route to towns. One of those scratches today was Todd Johnson, I’ll let him do the explaining on this one. 
As far as the leaders go, Chris has held the lead now for over a day, even with him pedaling a singlespeed. Chris is currently walking up the 10 mile range, only a few miles ahead of Jonathan, but the gap is certainly larger than it looks as the climb up to the crest is 2000+ feet. Currently trackleaders has Chris projected to finish in 5 days, 7 hours and 32 minutes, while Jonathan is projected to finish in 5 days, 8 hours and 28 minutes. Overall, Chris has been much more efficient during his resupplies and sleeps, yet Jonathan has been the fast overall rider. So far Chris has a total stopped time of 9 hours while Jonathan has a total stop time of 17+ hours.


7.25.17 – 10:00pm
Today has been a big day as far as social media posts are concerned. Many racers have updated their personal pages and the overall consensus has been pretty similar, racers are wet. Here are a few posts on the day from racers:

Brett Stepanik also had some thoughts on the wet as he called in from 13,000 feet.
…And while it’s wet, many racers are staying positive, thinking dry thoughts.

…But as racers continue north and east, the forecast shows the rain should continue. It honestly reminds me of Scotland, night rain, day rain, non-stop rain. Here is a quick forecast for the town of Leadville the next few days. Todd johnson, the unsupported westbound racer mentioned that he was held up due to a big storm outside of Leadville at 4:00pm, he has not moved since.
I’m eager to her how people are coping with the weather, if they are planning on buy more clothes, or a sleeping bag and bivy in the case of Chris Plesko. Speaking of Chris, he has passed the halfway point and is currently resupplying in Buena Vista. A rough time to get there as many places close early in Buena Vista, especially during the week, but it appears he stopped at the Princeton Hot springs for a bit just before 5:00pm. Wow, I also just read on the Bikepacking.net forum that Chris had zero calories since sometime last night and the Princeton Hot Springs store at. I am really intrigued to hear more about that situation. Craziness I tell you, and that’s the beauty of these bikepacking events, it’s all unknown until the end. I give a lot of credit to each and every racer this year, you are all hard men and women. 

I expect the pace to pick up after Buena Vista, even with these wet conditions as the 2nd half is a bit faster. If anyone wants to compare last year’s weather with this year’s, check out the videos I took, it shares a stark contrast.  http://bikepacker.com/colorado-trail-time-trial/



7.25.17 – 11:00pm
I got home from a long weekend in California a few hours ago. As I drove up towards Crested Butte, my home, I experience consistent rain as the sun was setting. I thought to myself how horrible it would be to be riding all soggy wet, in 50 degree temperatures, into the night. I’ve been there numerous times, and it’s not fun, but it’s part of the challenge. If you can mentally prepare and endure those soggy times, a race like the Colorado Trail is attainable. This year, many racers are enduring these rough conditions in the San Juans, and it’s making for a much slower pace compared to the past two years. 

Leaderboard
While any record, or even a sub 4 day finish is far fetched at this point, Chris Plesko is now in first. If it’s any consolation to his goal of sub 4 days that must feel pretty good for him, a motivator of sort to keep chuggin along. While Chris, Jonathan, and Seth Michael are only 4/5 miles apart from each other, that’s a decent gap in Sargents Mesa, where slow moving is the name of the game. That being said, in the overall picture, it’s a narrow lead for Chris, with plenty of race left. I expect Chris to reach HWY 50 sometime between 8-11am tomorrow morning, depending on how much sleep he gets tonight. Last night it looks like Chris stopped for 2/2.5 hours. I suspect he may do the same, but could sleep less and try and create a gap on both Jonathan and Seth. 

Getting out of Silverton
With this rain, I can only imagine leaving the comforts of Silverton is difficult. Most racers know that after Silverton you will endure the the longest stretch without a resupply location, the highest and most exposed part of the route, an extremely boring detour and the notorious Sargents Mesa, and with that, you still have some extremely demanding singletrack before you reach the Princeton Hot Springs store and Buena Vista. 

Social Notes:
Garrett Alexander called in from Lake City with a mechanical…


7.24.17 – 11:30am
A lot of interesting stuff going on right now, starting with Kurt Refsnider who has scratched while leading the race. Kurt has had some knee issues recently, but after the Stagecoach 400, he was excited he finished the race injury free. Unfortunately, the knee flared up again, and he pulled the plug before reaching Stony Pass. He likely headed back down and passed a few of the leaders, so while we were out of touch, I’m sure Chris and Jonathan knew of his exit.

Another Ultra Runner:
Our current leader is Jonathan Basham. Jonathan currently resides in Big Island, VA. He is making his way through the 2nd wilderness detour of the route, heading up towards Slumgullion Pass. I did a quick search and saw his name in a handful of ultra running articles. So I got ahold of Joe Grant and asked if he knew him. Joe mentioned that he had heard of him but not since 2010. At one point Jonathan held the fastest known times by foot on the Colorado Trail, and the Long Trail. This explains a lot, not to mention his goal of finishing in 4 days.

One Heavy Backpack:
The quest for an unsupported Colorado Trail traverse is looking good so far. Todd Johnson started at 4:00am from Denver yesterday, and has covered 125 miles so far. He is currently making his way up to Georgia Pass. Unsupported means he is carrying everything he needs from the start to the finish. He is not allowed to stop and grab food at any stores.

Our friend Greg hardy is out on route, He understands the importance of Silverton so camped at Molas Lake last night so he could resupply this morning. 



7.23.17 – 6:00pm
Weather and splits:
Reports are coming in on the monsoonal rain, and it’s indeed raining in the southern San Juans. Below is a Facebook post from John Schilling. The last two years have been pretty dry in general, but this year seems to be evening out the averages with a lot of monsoonal moisture. The rain really only started two weeks ago, and good thing it did as the state had little to no moisture since May. A lot of fires were popping up, and the Colorado Trail even closed in two separate locations dude to wildfires. The rain is good, but it certainly makes things a bit more difficult on the racers.
Refsnider 2 hours behind Jakomait’s 2015 time. 

If you look at the trackleaders page you can navigate the splits by clicking on the leaderboard page, scrolling from side to side. We are only two splits in as Kurt just recently reached Molas Lake. Comparing his time to the leader and eventually 2015 winner, Jesse Jakomait, Kurt is roughly 2 hours back.


7.23.17 – 10:00am
We are underway:
The start seemed to go off without a hitch this morning, many racers have yet to make it to Taylor Lake, but a select few have. It’s silly to speculate after only 7 hours, but one thing is clear, Kurt is here to play, and that should make for a very interesting race. He is currently sitting in the lead pack descending Indian Trail Ridge along with Chris Plesko, Garrett Alexander, and Paul Hamilton. 

Paul Hamilton: 
Speaking of Paul, he is another racer we should be looking out for. I actually stumbled across Paul at Slow Groovin’ BBQ where he was working in Marble, Colorado last fall. Paul is an ultra runner, and similar to what Joe Grant did in 2015, Paul is taking a step back from running, and taking on the Colorado Trail. Paul is an exceptional athlete. 

Durango starts are tough. You start in the town of Durango, which is 6,500 feet, you then make your way up to Indian Trail Ridge, which sits at 12,000ft. Thats a huge shock to the body, especially at the beginning of a race. That being said, at least you are going through the San Juans with fresh legs, and not at the end of the race. 


7.22.17 – 8:00pm
CTR Eve
The day before the race, a lot of nerves and a lot of excitement. Many racers will be going to bed wicked early, but many will have a tough time sleeping, especially with such an early start tomorrow morning. I always hate nights before races like these, but everyone will get through it just fine. 

Speaking of early starts, before the 2013 race it was decided to start at Velorution Cycles at 4:00am so the faster racers could reach Silverton before the gas station closes. So if you wonder why the start times every other year are different, that is why. 

Notable Racers:
It’s great to see so many familiar names on the list, a few that have been planning to race for maybe a year, and others who just announced that they were racing today.

Brett Stepanik – Brett has turned into the spirit bikepacker during this years Triple Crown attempt. Brett is always so positive along the trail and his call ins to MTB Cast are fantastic. Brett is only 530 miles away from being one of the few who have completed the Triple Crown challenge. 

Nick Gould – This was a slight shock, but I’m really excited to see him racing. Nick pedaled most of the CT last year in tour loads, but went at a pretty quick pace. Nick has very little bikepacking experience and this will be his first bikepacking race. I suspect he will be one of the faster racers this year, but I’m not too sure of his overall plan. 

Chris Plesko – If social media is any indication, I can’t think of another person who has trained harder than Chris in this race. Sure training is not everything but it certainly helps, and it should help him in his hope to break the 4 day mark. Last year Chris set the fastest singlespeed time on the Tour Divide, at 15 days 8 hours, he beat his previous record. Chris will again be on a singlespeed.

Todd Johnson – 3rd time’s a charm… We shall see. If you are unaware of Todd’s goals, check out this article, it should fill you in. He had two attempts of an unsupported ride last year, and he is going to finish business this year. Good Luck Todd!

Kurt Refsnider – Many know of Kurt as one of the pioneers of bikepack racing, now you can see his hard work though Bikepacking Roots. Not sure what we are to expect with Kurt, but if the Stagecoach 400 is any indication, Kurt is motivated to go fast, and it should be interesting to watch him rock an roll down the trail over the next few days. 

Neil Becwar – Keep an eye out for Neil who I personally know as a very strong and willing bike rider. I’m not too sure of his intentions, but strong Colorado riders do well in this race, and I think Neil will have a fantastic time.

Garrett Alexander – No Sleeping bag or backpack, Garrett is in for a fast ride this year. Garrett is a fast biker in general, but leaving comforts typically lead to better efficiency. Go get it Garrett!

As far as the ladies, I’m not too familiar with these three but I’m stoked to see that they all have their own personal goals. Jenna Walker, Meghan Newlin and Amanda Demler.

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