DURANGO, Colo. — A Golden ultrarunner stepped onto the southern point of the Colorado Trail in Durango Wednesday with a goal to finish the entire 486-mile trail in record time.
Courtney Dauwalter, 35, is a world-renowned ultrarunner with several titles to her name, including Western States Endurance Run (100 miles) champion in 2018, Moab 240 (240 miles) champion in 2017 and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (106 miles) 2019 champion.
This is her first time attempting the full trail, which runs 486 miles between Durango and Denver and gains about 90,000 feet of elevation. It will take her through six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges.
The current fastest time for the trail is held by Bryan Williams, who set the record — eight days and 30 minutes — in September 2017. The women’s record was set in 2003 by Betsy Kalmeyer, who ran the entire trail in nine days, 10 hours and 52 minutes.
Dauwalter is running the northbound route with support from her crew, including her husband, according to Tailwind, one of her sponsors.
While the route is supported, she will still carry food, water, a rain jacket, a Garmin InReach beacon for tracking, and other fuel.
During her pit stops with her crew, she’ll get to enjoy some of her staple endurance run foods, like pierogies, pancakes and cheeseburgers.
“I’m excited to have the chance to test myself on a new distance and to explore more of beautiful Colorado with my feet,” she said.
One of her crew members and fellow ultrarunner Maggie Guterl will post updates on Dauwalter’s Instagram so spectators can track her progress.
On Wednesday, she gathered with her crew at the trailhead.
"Oh, gosh," she is heard saying in a Salomon video. "Oh my gosh, it's happening. The tracker is on."
As she started the run, she turned to her crew, many who will run with her, and yelled, "Enjoy running! Make good choices!"
Due to COVID-19, Dauwalter and her crew have asked that no spectators come out to try and run with her or help the crew.
Fellow Tailwind athlete Joe Grant — who has biked to and ran up every 14er in the state in one month — holds the record for the trail in the Denver-to-Durango direction.