Ultrarunners compete in Devil Mountain 50 Kilometer Run

The Devil Mountain 50-Kilometer Run was held last Saturday.

Nine participants began at 8 a.m. on Turkey Springs Road; five finished the full 31.1-mile distance, and an additional four runners ran the initial few miles of the course out-and-back.

The run went over Middle Mountain, Horse Mountain and Chris Mountain, for a total elevation gain of about 5,100 feet (and an equal amount of drop). It went past all three rental huts in the Pagosa Hut and Trail System. It was on single-track and ATV trails most of the way, as well as a few miles on Forest Service dirt roads. Despite many turns from one trail to another, no runners went off course in completing the challenging loop. Most of the runners took a fall somewhere along the way, but no one was seriously injured. The rain that threatened most of the day held off until mid-afternoon, so runners had to run in the rain for only the last few miles. The consensus among the runners was that the event was a lot of fun, but nobody said it was easy.

Final times of the ultramarathon finishers were: Greg Sykes 7 hours, 41 minutes; Ron Bubb, 7:51; Robbie Johnson, 7:51; Ed Furtaw, 7:56; Chip Tuthill, 9:18.

Other runners, who each ran about 12 to 13.4 miles, were: Stephanie Jones, Nancy Murri, Morgan Murri and Alicia O’Brien.

There were three aid stations along the course, enthusiastically manned by wives and friends.

Aid Station 1, Monument Park Road east, mile 6.7: Gail Furtaw and Bernadette Tuthill.

Aid Station 2, The Applegate Hut at Monument Park, mile 13.1: John Applegate and Marvin Sacks.

Aid Station 3, Snow Ranch ATV Trailhead, mile 23.1: Pat McKenzie and Jeff Blackwell.

The course was beautiful. Fall colors added to the great views and impressive trees along the course. The runners passed by logging equipment and log piles between six and eight miles into the run, along Monument Park Road east and the Piedra Stock Driveway. They also passed near a prescribed burn area.

The start/finish area was shared with a trail ride and cookout of the San Juan Back Country Horsemen, who invited the runners over for a warm campfire, burgers and hot coffee at the cold, rainy finish.

It is interesting to note that nearly all of the runners were locals, most of whom already knew each other. Chip Tuthill and his wife, Bernadette, came from Mancos; otherwise, all the participants were locals. This shows that Pagosa has a respectable cadre of ultramarathon runners. In addition to the four locals who completed the this 50K run, there are at least three other local ultrarunners. This adds up to at least seven locals who are ultrarunners. This is a pretty high proportion of our local population — about five ultrarunners per 10,000 population, compared to a U.S. national average of about 0.6 per 10,000 population. Could the Pagosa area hold some kind of national record in this regard?