Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Winfield wanderings

So I've heard rumors and hope someone in the know can clear things up for me.  I heard a few months back about a "parallel trail" to the Winfield Road that was being built to help alleviate congestion during this section of the LT100.  When I heard this, I assumed there would be a ribbon cut right next to the road, but as I drove in to Winfield to do some Nolan's scouting last night, I saw no such thing. 

This morning I thought I'd sniff around Sheep Gulch and get a look at the south side of Hope Pass.  About 1/3 of a mile in, though, I found a trail splitting off to the left.  It looked interesting, so I followed it, not sure if it was going to be of the uphill or downhill variety.  Turns out it simply traversed the Clear Creek valley a couple hundred feet above the Winfield road.  It had more ups, downs, turns, and other trail-ish stuff than the road, and ran about 3 min per mile slower.  It climbed from 10,200' to about 10,550' at its high point before dropping down to a 4WD about a half mile west of Winfield proper.  It was fairly new and well-maintained until just before that junction - looks like it was constructed in the past month or so.  However, it wasn't complete - it turned into a social trail for maybe a quarter to a half mile on its west end.  It also dropped onto the road later than I had expected.

So I'm wondering a few things.  Is this the trail I heard about?  I assume so.  Are there plans to change the course to take advantage of this trail?  Will distance be cut off elsewhere or will the course just get a little longer?  And how much slower would the race run if this trail is used?  (I'd estimate 10-15 minutes)

Sheep Gulch TH is bottom center.  "Parallel trail" starts where the red line takes a sharp left, 10:30ish direction


  1. Stupid question but how "new" did the trail look in terms of cut vegetation, water breaks? Trash? Initials on trees? That kind of stuff... I assumed that the trail would be lower and more parallel to the road myself.

  2. Asked at race HQ yesterday and the word I got was that the course will still follow the road this year. That is what I was told... it could be a different story come race day.

  3. As far as I know, Lifetime's official position is still "we're working with the FS to get this sanctioned by race day, but plan on still running the road". Sean, this trail is definitely the new trail in question and if it isn't used this year will almost definitely be used next year. I won't be surprised if we run it this year.

    As far as being "longer/slower" etc, I'm actually quite excited by this because when the course was altered in 2009 to avoid the helicopter crash and include Pipeline instead of running all the way up Halfmoon Rd to the CT, it is my opinion that the course was shortened by 8-10min for the frontrunners (or ~1mile) in each direction, making it 15-20min/2mi faster for the frontrunners than in previous years. This meant that I would need to run ~15:25 on the current course in order to feel good about breaking MC's 15:42:59 standard. From what you've observed, it sounds like the inclusion of this new trail would basically even out this discrepancy, making the pre- and post-2009 courses comparable again.

    Of course, intermediate split times would still need to be tweaked.