The Black Canyon Ascent is a six-mile run and challenge walk, taking place May 12 east of Montrose, that bills itself as Colorado's toughest six-mile road race.
Competitors start at the junction of Colorado 347 and Highway 50, and travel up Colorado 347 past the entry gate to the national park to finish at the edge of the 2,250-foot canyon.
“It's one of the few events that finish in a national park,” organizer Scott Shine said. "It's a challenging course, but with the walk, everyone can do it."
Walkers start at 7:30 a.m. and runners take off at 8 a.m.; participants and the public are invited to celebrate at the finish line with awards, snacks, refreshments and possible entertainment, Shine said.
Dogs on leashes are welcome to attend, and there will be a shuttle from the finish back to the start for participants.
Racers will be equipped with chip timers, which will provide accurate racing results for the more competitive runners. There is a $200 bonus for anyone who breaks the course record, which has been held for at least three years, Shine said.
The men’s course record is 40 minutes, 8 seconds, while the women’s record is 45:06.
The male course record holder is expected to return for this year's race, Shine said.
The race was started 37 years ago, for “bragging rights” among a group of friends. For years, it was a low-key race, supported by the local mountain runners group, he said. In recent years, news of the challenging race has spread and it has become an early training competition for more elite runners.
It is part of the Black Canyon Race Series that includes the North Rim 20K race on Oct. 14 and the Winter Rim Romp Snowshoe Race and Adventure Hike on Jan. 14.
The event's proceeds benefit the Montrose Community Foundation, a nonprofit that serves as a resource, grant funder and collaborating organization committed to the development of the Montrose community.
The cost to racers who register through May 10 is $35. After that date, registration is $45. Participants will receive custom race shorts.
Last year, the event raised $6,000 for MCF.
For more information or to register, visit www.blackcanyonraces.com.