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Trail Race Runners Conquer the Mountains in Pursuit of Adventure

A staff member hugs their friend as they run through the Trail Race on August 13, 2022 at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. Photo by Chris Nye

As Waite Phillips once said, "Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue, and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete."

On Saturday, August 12, Philmont is hosting its second annual Trail Race. This all-day event is highly anticipated by participants and staff alike. It offers four thrilling races through the South country: the Tooth Ridge Sprint, the Heavy Half, the Marathon, and the ultimate challenge, the 50-Miler.

“We open up our trails for both the Scouting and running communities to enjoy the mountains.” said Austin St. George, race coordinator. “There's a lot of people in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and surrounding areas that hear of Philmont, but have never had an opportunity to come out into the backcountry. And I think that's huge, to kind of show off what we do here, and how we bring in Scouts from all over the world.”

Philmont's Trail Race is not just any ordinary running event; it offers participants an exceptional experience. Last year, each race attracted 75 participants and sold out quickly. In anticipation, the race has expanded to accommodate 100 runners per race this year.

“There are 64 more runners registered this year than last year. It's kind of exciting to know that it's still growing and there's still a good atmosphere for it. Even the Tooth Ridge and the 18-mile Heavy Half spots sold out within three days.”

Each race presents a different challenge, attracting a diverse group of runners with varying experience levels. Participants can engage in activities beyond the competition's thrill, making the race experience truly unique.

“There was a runner on the 50-Miler race last year that toured Hunting Lodge. I think a lot of the runners know our backcountry programs. They understand that it's a heavy race, but they also come out here for the fun and the atmosphere of Philmont.”

Some runners are visiting Philmont for the first time. For others, the Trail Race is a chance to reconnect with their roots.

“Last year, when we loaded buses, some people said like, ‘Hey, this is the first time I've been to Philmont in 20 years or so. I went on trek here and never had a way to get back and hike on the trails.’ The race gives them a new opportunity to get back to Philmont and relive their treks and the memories that they made here.”

Austin St. George has organized the race this year and has a lot to look forward to in the coming days.

“I'm just super excited for the race. I look forward to welcoming runners at the finish line. I think that's one of the rewarding moments for me. Seeing runners that have trained for months to accomplish such a hard physical feat, whether it is just running a very elevated eight miles up the Stockade, or running 50 miles up and over Mount Phillips and back, cross that finish line after all that hard work.”

If You Go

Though spectators are not allowed in the backcountry, staff and crews are welcome to cheer on runners as they end the race in basecamp. Here is what the day looks like:

The 50-Miler: A Test of Endurance

Starting at Zastrow Trail Head at 5 am, the race leads participants through iconic landmarks like Abreu, Fish Camp, Apache Springs, Buck Creek, and Clear Creek. It culminates with a final ascent up Tooth Ridge before reaching the finish line at the You Made It! Sign. The 50-Miler is not for the faint of heart, but leaves participants with a sense of achievement after conquering South country in a single day.

The Marathon: Embrace the Splendor

Beginning at 6 am from Zastrow Trailhead, runners pass through Abreu, Urraca, Crater Lake, and Miners Park, and face the challenging Tooth Ridge before reaching the finish line at the You Made It! Sign in basecamp. This race allows runners to challenge themselves physically while immersing themselves in the breathtaking Philmont scenery.

The Heavy Half: More than Just a Half Marathon

Starting at 7 am from Lovers Leap Trailhead, participants journey through Miners Park and the challenging Tooth Ridge, concluding their adventure at the You Made It! Sign in basecamp. This race offers an opportunity to experience Philmont's backcountry while providing ample time to enjoy the amenities of basecamp.

The Tooth Ridge Sprint: A Short and Scenic Adventure

Runners embark on a thrilling journey to the famous Tooth of Time, relishing in breathtaking vistas as they descend through flowing switchbacks, to the finish line at the You Made It! Sign in basecamp.

A staff member fills runners' cups with water at the Crater Lake aid station on August 13, 2022 at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M. Photo by Marielle Scott.

While registration for the race is now closed, there are a limited number of volunteer support positions available in areas such as course marking and preparation, registration, aid station and finish line support, and takedown of the course. If you are interested, register online today at Philmont-Trail-Race.

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