The Copper Mountain Half Marathon and 10K is back — sort of. Now called the Colorado Running Festival, the popular trail-running event has grown into a three-day festival that includes a variety of events: local and regional vendors on hand with products, a beer garden and free live music. Copper Mountain’s other summer facilities will also be up and running.
The festival gets underway Friday afternoon with a weekendlong sports and fitness expo. Races kick off Friday evening with the Twilight 10K Fun Run on a relatively flat course through Copper resort and around Copper Creek Golf Course. The race will be followed by a free outdoor screening of “Prefontaine,” a movie about the famous American middle- and long-distance runner and Olympian Steve Prefontaine, who died in a car accident in 1975.
Organizers describe the various courses as 80 percent trail and 20 percent dirt road. A number of the events take place on two 5K trail loops.
“Once you run a trail race you’ll never want to run on the road again,” said race director Craig Mintzlaff. “Not only is it more beautiful but it’s easier on your body.”
Sunday’s trail half marathon and 10K will still be a primary fixture of the festival. The half marathon course includes an arduous 1,700-foot elevation gain and is probably geared more toward the serious runner. The 10K course isn’t quite as punishing, and there is a 5K option with fewer ups and downs.
Mintzlaff said that whether you are a serious runner or just starting as a trail runner, there is something for all ages and abilities, including a kids’ 5K.
Organizers expect to capitalize on the growing popularity of trail running.
“Twice as many trail-running series started up in the last few years,” said Mintzlaff. “It’s fun to get people out and trail running.”
Saturday features two less traditional events, a relay marathon and a duathlon.
The relay marathon will take place on the same figure-eight course as Sunday’s 10K. It features two different 5K trail loops. People can compete in the marathon as individuals or in relay teams of two or four.
BrinGing the duathlon back
If duathlon sounds unfamiliar, that’s probably because they aren’t around as much as they used to be, Mintzlaff said.
“No one else has been doing them,” he said. “They’re fun for people who don’t like to swim.”
Saturday’s duathlon will start with a 5K trail run that covers 600 feet of elevation. That section is followed by a 3-mile bike ride with an 1,100 foot climb and descent. The race concludes with an additional 5K trail run on a less rugged course.
All events have open and ongoing registration until shortly before the start times. The festival, including all starts and finishes, will be based at Copper Mountain’s Burning Stones Plaza in Center Village.
More information is available at www.coloradorunningfestival.com.