Dynafit Vail HillClimb (And Down) Attracts Colorado’s Top Trail Runners

This past Fourth of July, nearly 300 runners crossed the finish line at the 44th annual Vail HillClimb in the mountain resort town Vail, Colorado. This was the second race in the 2020 Dynafit Vail Trail Running Series. This year’s edition included several major course changes to accommodate for participants’ safety during the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time, the course had a downhill finish ending at Golden Peak inside the Vail Ski Resort.

Vail HillClimb

At 10 miles, this years modified course was 3 miles longer than the traditional course and started in the center of Vail Village. Despite the downhill finish, runners were challenged by 1,700 vertical feet of ascent in the first 4.5 miles. Not only were there wave starts based on age groupings, there were also social distance markings at the start. Local and Colorado state coronavirus guidelines were followed for this event.

In the past this event has attracted runners from all over the country but the vast majority of the 2020 Vail HillClimb field were local Coloradans. Additionally, the entire women’s and men’s podium positions were held by Coloradans. The race drew some of Colorado’s top trail runners, including past US Mountain Running Team members Allie McLaughlin, Andy Wacker and third place finisher at the 2019 National High School Trail Championships Colin Szuch. This year’s Vail HillClimb also featured a strong youth contingent with several runners from one of Colorado’s premier youth running programs, Peak Performance Running hitting the mountain trails. I had the pleasure of meeting many of these up and coming trail runners while assisting at the 2019 edition of the Peak Performance Running (PPR) Summer Altitude Camp.

Vail HillClimb

Women’s Podium:

  1. Janelle Lincks, 26 (Boulder, CO) 1:08:19
  2. Nicole Mericle, 32 (Boulder, CO) 1:09: 03
  3. Deanna Ardrey, 37 (Boulder, CO) 1:11:30

Men’s Podium:

  1. Andy Wacker, 31 (Boulder, CO) 58:17
  2. Daniel Feeney, 29 (Boulder, CO) 1:03:07
  3. Colin Szuch, 18 (Evergreen, CO) 1:04:21

You can see full age group race results on the Vail Recreation District website.

With many trail races cancelled this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us may be asking ourselves when it’s time to race again. This answer depends largely on our local coronavirus guidelines, as well as our trust in event directors to hold safe and fun events. For those of us in states like Colorado and Utah there are many races being held nearly every weekend, while in other parts of the country, coronavirus conditions may not allow races to be organized for some time.

Vail HillClimb downhill

As a runner for Nike Trail Running, I find myself eager to jump back into the racing scene and continue pursuing my dream as a professional athlete. However, over the past few months I’ve found myself greatly enjoying my training and focusing on improving my fitness, as opposed to racing for the sake of running more races. I enjoy racing (and it’s a source of income for me!), but the lack of races these past few months has allowed me to see the benefits of spending more time training without any races on my plate. Wherever you are in your training/racing cycle, I encourage you to think about your own motivations for racing and to race when you feel ready and safe.

Vail HillClimb Nancy and Andy

Vail HillClimb men’s race winner Andy Wacker with ATRA executive director Nancy Hobbs.

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website.

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