#60HikesDenverChallenge – Chautauqua Park, Royal Arch

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #6 – Chautauqua Park – Royal Arch, Boulder
Completed: 4/12/17 | Mode: Hiking
Location: Chautauqua Park, Boulder
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: Lots of shade!
Facilities: Water, restrooms, and information at the Ranger Station

My Experience:
Back in April, I headed out the door to Boulder to get in a birthday hike. Afterward, my Mom met me for dinner in Boulder and it was a great 30th birthday! As I find some free time, I’m going to keep posting about my 60 Hikes Challenge and the ones I have gotten done during the last few months.

The beginning of the hike, looking out at the Flatirons.

Found at the base of the Flatirons, Chautauqua is a well-used park. People come here to hike, climb, and to simply hang out. There’s also a dining hall, theater, and more trails just behind the Flatirons. I went hiking in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week and it was still crowded. Although, once I was past the beginning trails that go up to the Flatirons, the crowds thinned out and I was left to the Royal Arch trail mostly by myself.

This is hike is not easy by any means. You climb the whole time to the arch, increasing in steepness during the last half mile as the trail turns into stairs. Just as you think you’ve made it to the top, you realize you need to hike down a little and then back up, again, to the arch. For me, that day, my quads were taking a beating and cramped up on me after the first summit. As you round on the last switchback, the arch comes into view and all of a sudden it’s looming over you. Hike right through the arch and see a beautiful view of Boulder and surrounding areas.

Pros:
-Restrooms
-Ranger station with maps, information, and gifts
-Lots of shade!

Cons:
-The biggest con is the crowds. This is a very overused park and needs a lot of attention!

Tips:
-If visiting on the weekend, there is now a free shuttle service from New Vista High School to help alleviate the parking issues.
-When you reach the first summit before the arch, climb the rocks there for a faraway view of Royal Arch.
-Please, please, please practice the Leave No Trace Principles and STAY ON THE TRAIL! I can’t believe how many people I saw hiking off to the side on a DRY day, next to a very wide trail. #InDisbelief

Overall:
I really wish this park wasn’t abused as much as it is. It’s a beautiful place in the heart of Boulder, but because of its location, so many people flock to the trails for a dose of nature. Many of those don’t respect the “rules” of the outdoors and it is getting pretty frustrating. While I was there, I watched two people walking off the side of a trail that was literally wide enough for TWO cars! No joke.

I hike here a lot to get to the climbing areas of the Flatirons, but for just for hiking alone, I tend to avoid this area like the plague. If you’re visiting from out of town, and don’t mind the crowds, it is definitely worth the trip.  Or you can climb a Flatirons while you’re there! Hire a guide: GoldenMountainGuides.com (#shamelessplug #sorrynotsorry)


Check out the book for yourself!

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Boulder: Walden Ponds

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #5 – Boulder – Walden Ponds
Completed: 1/22/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Boulder, about 75th and Jay Rd
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt
Exposure: Lots of shade

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My Experience:
After driving through peaceful, organic farming land, I got to a lot of old warehouses,  buildings that just looked abandoned, and actually abandoned buildings. I was thinking there is no way that a nice trail listed in this book would be out here. Sure enough, one block later, there was Walden Ponds trailhead. If you can’t tell already, this wasn’t one of my favorites. What used to be gravel pits have filled with water over the years and with it, a lot of wildlife. All I saw was a lot of ducks and other birds. Although there were some beautiful views, I couldn’t get over the smell of the nearby water treatment plant. Did I paint a good enough picture for you?

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You can see all the buildings on the other side of the pond, one of which is the water treatment plant.

Pros:
-Beautiful view to one side
-Flat, shady and lots of different loop options.
-A lot of wildlife

Cons:
-Smelly, literally
-Crowded
-Bird watchers (I felt kind of bad blazing through with the sound of my running)

Tips:
-Don’t go to this trail 😉
-In all seriousness, this would be a great family trail because there is pamphlet that points out all the wildlife.

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Overall:
I’m not quite sure why this trail is in the book. I can’t tell if the book was written for people from out of town or people living in Denver. Either way, it could have been left out. Sure, there’s a pretty view of the mountains, but there’s just as beautiful landscape at much better trails. If you’re nearby and want to get in a loop run, go here. If you’re far, or from out of town, it’s not worth the drive.

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Bolder Boulder 2015 – Post Race Recap

I am going to recap this race first since it is most fresh in my mind. I still have the Colfax Relay from last week and the Colorado Women’s Classic from the week before to recap!

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The Bolder Boulder is one of those races that if you are a runner in Colorado, you have to go to this event. It’s the biggest running event in Colorado and voted America’s Favorite 10k! It’s, I want to say, the 3rd largest 10k in the country. Don’t quote me on that though.

It’s just a great event all around – and that’s saying a lot from me because with over 50,000 people, I don’t usually like being stuck in a crowd that large! But no matter if you’re a competitive runner, casual, social, or a walker, this race is perfect.

For that many people, you must have a wave system, and they do it perfectly. It’s always well-organized and tons of volunteers to help. They have a great transportation system in place (recruiting the local buses to help out), and a huge expo at the end.

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The wave system

The course is kinda difficult; pretty hilly and lots of turns, but it’s manageable. There is entertainment the whole way with bands, belly dancers, gymnastics, houses with slip and slides, beer, jello shots, bacon, cupcakes, and Doritos.

But the best part is when you finish in the stadium. With a quarter-mile left, you run up a steep, short hill and end up in Folsom Field, where the CU Buffalos throw a football around. There’s a ton of people in there and you make a horseshoe finish, with the sounds of everyone cheering for you! It’s an amazing and empowering moment.

The Bolder Boulder is also all about Memorial Day. There is a big Memorial Day celebration after the race finishes and elites have gone with a fly over, para gliders dropping in to the stadium and more!

This is the 5th time I have run the Bolder Boulder, but not 5 years in a row, I skipped one somewhere in there…

In 2010, I ran it with my dear friend, Joanna. In 2011, I ran it with a guy I was dating at the time. 2012, I returned by myself after I started Racing the States and crushed all my previous times with a 53:03. I skipped the race in 2013 when finances were tight. I returned last year when I got a free race entry from 3W Races for running as an Ambassador and lolli-gagged around the course to finish in 55 min.

 

This year, I returned. Another free entry from 3W Races, and I crushed my previous course record of 53:03 to kill it with a 51:53!

I debated between running it for fun and taking part of all the free jello shots and slip and slides, but decided to try for a PR. After all, I did PR on this course in reverse at the Heart and Sole 10k last year. Although, I was looking for a PR today, I told myself I would settle for a Course PR. And that’s just fine with me. This course is hard! This year, with a decently fast qualifying time, I got to register for wave EB, a 7:15am start. The first wave starts around 6:55am, I think, and EB is the EARLIEST I have every gotten to start, which means slightly fewer people on the course to dodge!

Before I started!

Getting ready! Rockin’ 3W gear and my skirt sports skirt!

I started off conservatively, with the idea of finishing strong. I felt really strong for the first half. I slowed a bit with the hill at the midway point, but with 2 miles remaining, I picked it back up and felt incredibly strong, flying by people. It was right within the last quarter-mile, that I described above, that I was struggling, and tried to give it all I had.

Finished!

Finished!

I very happy with how it played out. After visiting with a ton of friends and some of the kids I coached at Green Mountain that also ran the race, I jumped over to the expo where the company I work for had a booth set up. Seeing how busy it was, I jumped in to help and hand out some prizes for the spinning wheel.

Exhausted after tearing down the booth once all the racers left, I was driven back to my car and straight home to my couch! I was super tired!

If you live in Colorado and haven’t done the Bolder Boulder, you should give it a whirl. If you are looking for a great destination race, it’s worth the trip, even though it’s only a 10k!

MORE:

Fellow Coloradoan’s Race Report

Bolder Boulder Website

Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) Runs the Bolder Boulder! 

Heart and Sole 10K (June 29th) – Post Race Recap

handslogo_whiteYes, yes, the Heart and Sole Half and 10K was indeed in JUNE!!! O. M. G. That’s a long time ago! Were at the beginning of September and I haven’t written about a June race!?! Bad Blogger! BAD!

I’m actually going to keep this short since this was so long ago!

Pre-Race with some 3W Ambassadors

Pre-Race with some 3W Ambassadors

I hadn’t planned on running this race but it was a big deal in the Boulder area and a lot my friends were running it. I was debating between doing the 10k or the half. On one hand, I had to get in a long run that weekend and knew that registering for a race would force me to do it. But on the other hand, the half was kinda expensive come race day. I ended up doing the 10k with plans to either “bandit” the extra miles (the half was the 10K loop twice) or just run extra miles elsewhere on my own.

I didn’t end up bandit-ing the half, I just ran my 10K, ate and then ran (literally) into a friend that was running around the area for training, not for the race. I picked up my 5 extra miles with him running around the area. Not going to lie, that was a pretty good idea of his to just run where a race was because he didn’t need to bring water with him. He just “fueled up” at the race itself! If I recall, he was in for like 15 miles that day, and no, he didn’t “steal” anything, just had water.

As for the event itself:

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.43.48 AMOverall 4/5:

Definitely fun. I knew a lot of the people putting on the race. The Boulder Running Company put on the Heart and Sole and from repping 3W Races at the Boulder Running Company’s Wednesday fun run, I have gotten to know the workers. Why not a full 5/5? Just because it wasn’t anything spectacular. Just a regular ol’ road race.

Race Organization: 5/5

Nothing to complain about there! But then again, it was so long ago…. Just kidding! Everything was awesome. Plenty of course marshals, plenty of volunteers, plenty of everything.

Cost: 3/5

So, if you registered early, it was an average race cost. But race day, the prices were sky high. I can’t remember the actual price, but that’s what deterred me from running the half.

Post Run: 5/5

There was so many booths and so much food! You also got a free beer at a pub that was right on the corner of the finish line. There was PANCAKES… you all know how much I like pancakes from my Ragnar post! One of my favorite things from the post-race “party” was one of the booths was playing a really fun game. I believe it was by Smart Wool socks and they were handing out stickers to people, each with a number. Now, two stickers had the same number and were given, at random, to two different people. The idea is to walk around the expo area to find your matching number and you each get a free pair of socks. I was OBSESSED with finding my number….. and I never did! I did, however, help others find their numbers. While I was eating my pancakes, I was looking at people as they passed by looking for my number. I happened to catch people walking that were matching, but they had no idea. I yelled out their numbers and both people turned and looked. I pointed to each person and they were matched!

If only dating were that easy, huh??

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 4.16.03 PMCourse: 3/5

It was a sort of difficult course. There was a bunch of up-hills, which would normally be fine, it really wasn’t too bad. However, this course was basically the Bolder Boulder backwards. All on streets and all streets that I had just run a month or so before.

My Race: 5/5

Now here’s where it gets exciting, Ladies and Gentlemen! For being a relatively up hill course and just randomly deciding to race that morning, I didn’t expect any superb performance. I didn’t look at the course profile ahead of time. I didn’t look at the map either. I just ran when I was told to run.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.42.38 AMI felt like I was pushing it pretty hard, but not to the point of complete exhaustion. There was one point that I had just finished a down hill, knowing I had to be sorta near the end, and this steep hill just pops up from around the corner. I audibly cursed and said something like, “Are you kidding me!?” But I still charged up the hill.

I rounded another corner, back to the familiar street to where we started, but then the course turned left, and I wondered how much further did we really have!?

With a right turn, I saw the finish coral. Turning right (again) I was finally under the finish line. I looked at the clock: I was super close to my 10k PR! I grabbed some water and went to the results table. All they had posted was gun time, and I was about 2 seconds slower than my PR! (My previous PR was 51:00) Half proud but half sad I didn’t just beat it, I wandered around the expo area.

Later that evening, I checked the results on my phone. It turned out that my chip time was 50:27! That’s right, I beat my previous PR by 33 seconds! For being a two-year old PR and that the course was hot and hilly, I was so proud! I would love to see what I could on a flat course (and maybe at sea level!).

I think my race pictures for this race came out pretty decent!

I think my race pictures for this race came out pretty decent!

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