by Rick Langenberg
Teller County may serve as a launching area for the USA Pro Challenge cycling race, but when it comes to hosting an ultra-marathon running competition outside Divide and across certain rural roads, elected leaders and public lands authorities are throwing up a huge barrier.
In one of the few times Teller elected leaders denied an event request in the last few years, the county commissioners last week gave the proposed 100K Human Potential Running Series, slated for Sept. 6, the thumbs-down. The event was proposed by a Thornton-based organizer and is part of the Tommyknocker Ultra-marathon Series. The founder of the event, John “Serpa” Lacroix, has directed events like this for eight years and has competed extensively in 150 and 200-mile races in Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest and in the Rocky Mountain region. He also is a certified wilderness emergency responder
The commissioners didn’t have a problem with the event, but objected to the odd times runners would be trekking through a residential neighborhood. The race would take 16 hours, according to Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker, and was originally slated for a 2 a.m. start. The race would feature about 125 trail runners for both a 100K and 50K course.
The commissioners, however, contended that the race would be better off, if it occurred along Forest Service routes.
But unfortunately, the U.S. Forest didn’t give a nod to the event either. “It is unfortunate the Forest Service wasn’t able to accommodate this,” said Commission Chairman Dave Paul, who contended that Forest Service trails would be better suited for this type of trail-running marathon.
The commissioners struggled with early morning start and finish times in residential neighborhoods and especially sections of Broken Wheel. “It is not appropriate,” said Paul.
With this verdict, the commissioners overruled positive recommendations from the sheriff’s department and other agencies.
Although rejecting their bid, at least one commissioner, Norm Steen, volunteered to help the marathon group in its lobbying effort with the Forest Service or assist them in securing another route.
The big losers, though, could be local businesses, as the Ultra-marathon Running Series group was planning on spending time in the Divide area and would have stayed at the Golden Bell resort. In their proposal, they indicated that the runners would have minimal impacts on the neighborhood. “We will not be using any PA system, loud speakers, microphones at the start of the race. We are instituting mandatory ‘silent miles’ to start the race. We are planning to use the races theme to institute this as we play the role as ghosts. Our runners will be required to remain silent,” stated Lacroix in an application letter.