At The GoPro Mountain Games, It’s Endorphins For Everyone

The 5K Mud Run is one of the most popular events at the GoPro Mountain Games. Photo: Tommy Whitcomb

The GoPro Mountain Games serve up high-altitude thrills.

It began 13 years ago in Vail, Colo., as a small slalom kayaking competition, a trail run some loud music, cold beer, and — as one organizer recalls — a make-do climbing wall “similar to what you’d see at a child’s birthday party.”

Now the four-day GoPro Mountain Games (formerly the Teva Mountain Games) is one of the country’s top sports-themed festivals, having grown to an event that attracts 50,000 spectators and 3,000 participants across nine sports (from running, mountain biking and climbing to whitewater paddling, fly fishing and doggie long-jumping), while also offering free concerts, adventure films, yoga classes and gear demos — all while retaining its wacky, irreverent mountain culture vibe.

There are two main running races: the lung-searing Vail Pass Half-Marathon, a grueling uphill road race climbing 2,900 feet to the thin-air finish atop 10,000-foot Vail Pass; and the Spring Run-Off 10K trail run, one of the nation’s toughest trail 10Ks that takes runners up and down the dirt trails of Vail’s ski mountains, before switch-backing for miles through budding aspen groves.

RELATED: 2013 GoPro Mountain Games

Want to get down and dirty, maybe even while clad as a superhero? A 5K mud run delivers mud and more with both a zany Super Galactic All-Stars category and a G-rated family division, plus the pet-centric Rocky Dog Trail Run 5K.

The weekend’s true ego crusher is the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, which combines an individual’s race times in the trail run, XC mountain biking, downriver kayaking and a cycling hill climb.

This piece first appeared in the June 2013 issue of Competitor magazine.

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