Nearly 40 years since its humble beginnings as a friendly race between some Ouray locals including IPR founder and Camp Bird mine worker Rick Trujillo, much has changed about the annual event. Throughout the years the race has gained a reputation as being one of the most daunting yet best-organized high altitude races, drawing sell-out crowds of 1,500 entrants year after year. Registration has sold out in less than a day for the past two years, as more and more runners from across the country and world set their sights on this epic test of physical fortitude.
Yet certain things haven’t changed about the annual Imogene Pass Run. It’s still 13,114 feet to the top, and 17 miles from start to finish over one of the trail running world’s burliest courses.
Registration for the event is again full at 1,500 racers this year; typically 20 percent do not show up, making the number of total starters just over 1,200.
A veritable army of volunteers is needed to man the aid stations and provide support for this labor-intensive athletic event. Longtime race director John Jett has once again put out a massive call for volunteers, who are charged with supporting the 1,200-plus runners on their trek. With six aid stations along the course, plus the start, finish and registration crews, over 200 volunteers are needed. Jett urges interested volunteers to check the IPR website at www.imogenerun.com for more information.
Since 2008 the IPR course has been closed to vehicular traffic during the race; recent years’ OHV traffic increases prompted the IPR Board of Directors to get permission from the San Miguel and Ouray County Commissioners to grant them a temporary road closure. The closure will be in effect from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on race day for Telluride side access and from 7a.m. until noon for access from Ouray.
Jett reports that the race has a return participant rate of over 50 percent, with many athletes making the trip in excess of ten times. The race always boasts a strong following of runners from the Four Corners, as well as a solid contingent of local runners.
The run starts in Ouray and ends at the intersection of N. Oak and Columbia Streets in Telluride. The finish line will be open until 2:30 p.m. and there will be an awards presentation in Elks Park at 1:30 p.m.
Check-in for participants will be held in Telluride at the Sheridan Opera House on Friday from 12-2 p.m., then move to Ouray from 5-7 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center. Busses going to Ouray will leave Telluride Saturday morning starting at 5:15 a.m., with the final bus pulling out from in front of the Courthouse at 5:30 a.m. The race begins at 7:30 a.m. in Ouray.
Imogene Pass and upper Oak Street in Telluride will be closed the day of the race, until 2 p.m.
Proceeds from the IPR support several local organizations including the track teams of Telluride, Ouray and Silverton, Ouray and Telluride Search and Rescue, Telluride Ski and Snowboard Team, and the Montrose Amateur Radio Club.