Work It Out: Memories from The Rock Challenge |

Work It Out: Memories from The Rock Challenge

Trent Johnson
Special to the Daily

A beautiful Saturday morning in late May seems far away, but it's a must for Colorado runners. It drew athletes from around the state to the town of Castle Rock for a day of competition, all to show how far they have come with training and to prove that they are capable of completing the Rock Challenge.

That's what happened May 30, 2015. Fun runners and athletes arrived in Castle Rock to challenge themselves and each other on one of three distances: a five-mile run, a half marathon and The Rock Challenge. People showed up about 6:30 a.m. to prepare for a race against others — and themselves.

A blown transformer

Warming up was difficult, as the sun wasn't shining over the town center quite yet and people were doing their best to stay loose in a chilly morning. As some were warming up, a loud POP! could be heard around town when a nearby electrical transformer blew due to overuse. Once everyone realized what happened the pre-race tension seemed to subside, as competitors got ready to run their race.

And they're off

Just a little before 7 a.m., the half marathon runners took off on a 13.1-mile journey that took them around Castle Rock and through locals trails before the finish line. The five-mile and The Rock Challenge runners had to wait another 15 minutes to run their race, but that gave them time to get a little more prepared for the run ahead of them.

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Each event had a different distance. The Rock Challenge consists of the same course as the five-mile run with on intimidating change: athletes have to run up, around and down what is affectionately called the Castle Rock "Rock."

The Rock is a small mountain outside of Castle Rock on the Front Range that was formed when rivers used to flow in the area. It now rises and falls steadily, ranging about 1,000 feet to 1,200 feet above the main road at 6,180 feet. The trail runs along the front of the Rock and the incline increases as you start making your ascent towards the top. Once there, athletes ran around the perimeter of the Rock and then down a separate trail to the five-mile course. This challenge added an additional 1.4 miles to the already long course.

All three courses passed by the local high school, nearby recreation center and baseball fields. Once completed, the runners ran on a newly built path that leads to the Plum Creek Trail in Castle Rock, which extends for 10 miles round-trip.

Trail therapy

As the athletes finished the race, everyone wore a look of pride knowing they had completed the challenge instead of sleeping in. Running is a form of therapy for avid runners because it allows you to channel your stress into energy for a run. Once you complete the run, you then realize that your stress has gone down and you feel more comfortable.

These races are similar to the challenges we face every day. Depending on what we need to do, we can either face it head or struggle to finish. Or, we can give up and never see that finish line.

Trent Johnson is a personal trainer certified through the National Association of Fitness Certifications. As a trainer and runner, he has years of experience training people of all abilities, from high-level athletes to Average Joes who just want to find better fitness.