Despite the fact that in this 25 mile trail run there is about 4,000 feet of elevation gain and even in April it can be pretty toasty out on this exposed trail, The Desert Rats Fruita 25 mile event is a must race for the avid trail runner. When I first signed up for this event I naively thought it looked like a beautiful course winding through the Colorado National Monument. My brain read the 4000 feet of elevation but it didn’t really register in my mind what that was going to look or feel like on race day. Now obviously, I’m not an elite ultra-runner or anything but I do fancy myself to be a decent trail runner with some grit and fortitude. For the elite runners this course is a walk in the park. For the average trail runner, it is a beautiful, challenging course. The 4000 feet of elevation definitely got my attention on race day. The primary challenges for me were Within the first few miles, you are climbing up a mountain on a trail called Moore Fun. Depending on your mindset, this may or may not actually be more fun. The hurdle that almost brought me to my knees, however, is at mile 18 where you climb up a seemingly endless dirt road with lots of false-summits thrown in for good measure. Once you’re past that little treat, the rest is a beautiful run along the top of the ridge with great views and a downhill decent for the last 4 -5 miles.
The reason this race is one of my favorites is for the reason that even though you are running up and down rollers and hills constantly, the scenery is so breathtaking and inspiring that it can help but lull you into a runner’s high. This isn’t the race with throngs of spectators lining the course with cowbells and horns. This is a race where runners begin to spread out and it’s just you, the rhythm of your footsteps, scenery that you actually want to slow down and take in, and you are inspired by nature and her beauty.
I also like that the Desert Rats coordinators have taken on an environmental angle and do not have paper cups for beverages at the aide stations. The runners must bring their own water bottles or collapsible cups. Despite not having cups, the aide stations are well supported with chips, coke, orange slices, watermelon (my personal favorite), and lots of other well appreciated snacks.