Sawmill 27k

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Staring things off along the Whippletree Trail at sunrise.

Last weekend I headed up to Golden and participated in the first running of the Sawmill Trail Races in White Ranch Open Space Park. It was a fun way to get some exercise in December while we continue to wait for the actual ski season to begin. “Always just take what Colorado gives”, is a motto that rarely seems to disappoint these days.

Put on by the Human Potential Running Series, the Sawmill had been held as a “Fat Ass” run for the previous few years (“fat ass” here meaning a more laid back “fun run” style of race). The run became so popular that HPRS director John Lacroix decided to convert it into an official race this year. The course consists of a 27k (roughly 17 mile) loop around White Ranch Park that can be run either once or twice depending on a runner’s preference. Each loop boasts a total of 6,600 ft of elevation change, which is pretty impressive for being right on the edge of the foothills if you ask me.

The elevation profile for one loop – a big climb right at the start and a big descent at the end, for a total of 3,300 ft of gain and 3,300 ft of loss.

The dry trails and 65 degree December day made for perfect running conditions out there. I knew from the beginning that I’d be running only one loop. Between two vacations in November, the Thanksgiving holiday, and dusk hitting at 4:30pm every evening, I just wasn’t able to squeeze in enough training miles to confidently commit to an ultramarathon. The laid back feel of this race felt consistent with running a more comfortable distance and heading into town early for some lunch anyway. I wasn’t disappointed with the decision.

Cabins near the Sourdough Springs equestrian area, seen from the Sawmill Trail.

The run itself went well for me. Lots of scenery and variation in the trails are a few of the perks of running in White Ranch Park. Having the shorter distance in mind I was able to let loose a little more early on and go for a decent time, more so than I’ve been able to in longer races at least.

Descending the Belcher Hill Trail near the end of the loop.

After a very enjoyable two hours up there connecting all the trails together, I found myself on the long final descent back down the trailhead. I ran for a little while with a guy who was using the race as a training run for a 100-miler in April. It was cool to pick his brain about that a little bit before we pulled into the finish line.

A time of 2:46:00 for a 9:19/min pace felt like a decent run to me (full results can be found here). It’d be nice to get out skinning/skiing here soon, but at least my overall goal of staying in decent shape throughout the holiday season appears to be on track 🙂

At the finish line with one of the finisher awards, which are pretty cool.

Course map – counterclockwise around the lower loop and then clockwise around the upper one, tracing out a figure eight.

Thanks to John, Hollis, and the others who made this neat little event possible. And congrats to all of those who participated, particularly those who managed the longer distance. 

Merry Christmas! 🎄

2 thoughts on “Sawmill 27k

  1. Zambo

    Nice work, Benny. Glad you were able to work this one in. Looks like a really cool circuit. I may have to go check this one out on my free time runs soon.

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Zam! I’d definitely recommend checking this area out. Lots of trail and lots of vert, good views, with a couple breweries in N. Golden only a few miles away 🙂


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