The Black Hawk Trail Race Half Marathon and 10k takes place at Golden Gate Canyon State Park near Black Hawk, CO (30 minutes west of Denver). Two years ago, Sean and I visited Golden Gate Canyon State Park and loved running the trails. Golden Gate Canyon State Park has more than 35 miles of trails on over 12,000 acres. We enjoyed spectacular views of valleys, meadows, and mountain ranges. We loved the challenge of climbing trails with elevations from 7,600′ to 10,400′. We had such a good time running these trails, that when I stumbled across the Endurance Race Series Black Hawk event, I knew it was a race I wanted to do! I always love a destination trail race, and this was a perfect excuse to take a trip to Colorado. There is a 1/2 marathon and a 10K option. Sean and I chose the 10K option since we knew we wanted to run the other days of our vacation too. My friend Lindsay had relocated to the Denver area earlier this year. She also signed up for the Black Hawk Trail 10K. I was looking forward to running with my old running partner again!
This is the second year for the Black Hawk Trail race. This year, it took place on Sunday, July 31st. Sean and I went to the early packet pickup on Friday. They had packet pickup from 4-7pm at a running store not far from our hotel in Louisville, CO. That way, on Sunday we only needed to show up to Golden Gate Canyon State Park in time for the race. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds! Lindsay met us at our hotel and we carpooled over. The drive was easy at first, until you turn into the entrance to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. From there the roads are twisty, steep, mountain roads! There were several cars slowly making their way towards the race start. We finally arrived at the race parking area. By the time we got there, the spots were filled up, but the race had some volunteers directing cars where to park. We were able to squeeze into a spot, and get ready for the race start.
The Black Hawk Trail Race
The race start and finish was off of Drew Hill Road, near the Nott Creek Trail Head. The 1/2 marathon started at 7:30 and the 10K started at 7:45. We watched the 1/2 marathoners start, then lined up for our race start. The air was a little chilly, but we knew the day would warm up. 7:45 came, and our race was off! The trail started down some singletrack on the Mountain Lion trail. We were only on this trail for a short while until turning onto a dirt service road. The service road was perfect for thinning out the pack. The service road led up a long, steep hill. After the hill, it continued around a loop, and we eventually ended up back on the Mountain Lion trail. By the time we were back on singletrack, the trails were not as crowded and there was plenty of space between runners. This trail led us back towards the start, then continued on to the out and back portion of the race. This section was the longest part of the race, and had the best views!
Climbing the Mountains!
Sean, Lindsay, and I worked as a team pacing ourselves up the steep climbs and down the rocky trails. Despite the hills and elevation, we were able to keep a decent pace. The Mountain Lion trail was challenging, but gorgeous. At one point, we reached the top of a mountain (the max elevation of the race was 8100 feet). The climb was tough, but it was a great opportunity to take in a perfect vista. We made our way along the mountainside, and down to the turn around, where there was an aid station. We fueled up on water and Sport Beans, then started our climb back up the mountain and towards the finish.
Bringing Home the Finish
We made the final descent down the mountain and turned back on the service road to head towards the finish. Sean, Lindsay, and I finished the race feeling good. It was a great race! After we crossed the line, we made our way across the street to Red Barn picnic area for the post race event. The post race event had lots of food, including fresh grilled burgers and hotdogs. They also were providing one free beer per runner! We sat down and had a great post race picnic. We collected our finishers socks from Darn Tough. It was a festive environment! Everyone was having a good time recovering from the race and waiting for the awards.
The Black Hawk Trail Race was a quintessential Colorado trail race, and I am so glad I was able to participate in it! The race was well organized and well marked. The race had good support before, during, and after the race. The runners had a great time. Endurance Race Series has several races in the area, you can find out more about their events here.