Surrounded by the dramatic peaks of Colorado's Rocky Mountains all around -- no fewer than a dozen reach more than 14,000 feet -- this central Colorado town known as the "heart of the Rockies" plays host to the inaugural running of the Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon & Half Marathon on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2011, giving up to 300 runners the chance to trek through one of the country's most beautiful landscapes.
The town itself, which is home to about 5,500 permanent residents and lies at an elevation of about 7,000 feet above sea level, has garnered attention from publications as wide-ranging as Outside Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and The New York Times -- which praised it as a town for "outdoors life with no attitude" -- and for its plentiful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in both winter and summer, from skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling to camping, hiking, fishing and kayaking.
The race takes runners on an out-and-back loop route that starts and finishes at Thonhoff Park near Salida's downtown, across from the Chaffee County courthouse. From there, runners in both races follow the 13.1-mile route in a clockwise direction around the loop course; those running in the half marathon finish back at Thonhoff Park while those running the full marathon then turn around and run the course a second time in the opposite (counter-clockwise) direction.
From the streets of Salida -- which is well-known for its restaurants, shops, art galleries and museum -- the race takes runners northwest of town out into the roads that run through this portion of the Upper Arkansas River Valley. Runners can expect to see wide-open farm fields and the Arkansas River itself along several stretches of the race, as they run parallel to the river in the early going and cross over the river in the second half of the half-marathon race.
Once runners reach the finish line, they'll get to see why it's called the "Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon" -- bluegrass bands will be playing for runners at the post-race festivities at Salida's Riverside Park, which lies just a few blocks away from the starting line. The race has a limit of 300 runners for the event, so registrants are encouraged to sign up early.
Weather & Climate
Nestled among the peaks and national forest areas of the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado, just over 140 miles southwest of Denver, Salida typically sees cool to moderately warm weather in May, when the city's average monthly temperatures range between 68°F and 36°F. On the day of the race (May 29), the average high is 73°F and the average low is 39°F, while precipitation amounts average just over an inch for the month.
$40 for the half marathon
$60 for the full marathon
To reserve your spot in the late spring 2011 running of Salida's Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon or Half Marathon, register online at RunningGuru.com
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