The Telluride Mountain Run

The Facts:

  • The Telluride Mountain Run is cancelled in 2017
  • It will return in 2018
  • The new race director will be Jared Vilhauer with Highline Running Adventures

The Story:

Jared Vilhauer is a long time San Juans local who now lives in Ridgway. In addition to managing Highline Running Adventures, he is also an instructor for Rigging for Rescue and a super accomplished alpine climber, though you wouldn't know that from talking to him because he's the most laid-back dude ever. When I told him I was cancelling TMR he got super pissed and start throwing things and the only way I could get him to calm down was to agree to let him direct the race. But he has too much on his plate this year. Therefore, we are going to cancel the 2017 edition of the Telluride Mountain Run and bring it back in 2018 with Jared at the helm.

I will continue to be involved in some capacity. For the 2018 edition I will help him with supplies and anecdotal advice and snide remarks about the way we used to do things, and after that I probably won't be invited back. But you can rest assured that Jared is at least as responsible as me and possibly even more so, if that's possible. He is going to do a great job directing the race and he will maintain the low-key, mountains-first ethic that I and my associates have promoted through the first four years of the race. TMR will still be TMR.

Although, there is a different race now with the same name, so please don't be confused: THERE WILL BE NO TMR IN 2017, and any other events have no affiliation with our race.

The support of our runners has been overwhelmingly positive, and I'd like to personally apologize for a terrible lack of communication on this matter until now. I have been unsure of what to do for a long time, and then after I made the decision to cancel the race I was hoping to just sort of slip out the back door and not make any noise. But you all spoke up, and it makes me feel so proud to think that TMR means this much to our runners that I want to hug each and every one of you. It makes me think that maybe we were able to channel a certain element of what makes a place like Telluride so wonderful into the experience of running 38 really hard miles. The race existed for you, and because of you, and would literally have been pointless without you. Your support has resurrected it from near-certain doom, and we hope to pay that compliment forward in the form of a continually spectacular event. Thank you so much for your support, and your patience, and your blood, sweat, and curses. We can't wait to have you back in 2018.

This is the end of the important part.


If you want to understand the personal reasons and thoughts that went into these changes, you can read my article about last year's race on Irunfar here. I have also excerpted part of an email I recently sent to the Forest Service explaining the decision. Looking at this now, I realize that the Forest Service is an organization to be admired. They balance countless competing interests with impressive facility, and after four years of working with them I personally felt valued enough to share this much with them. Anyway, check it out:

"I'd just like to follow up on the conversation you had with Jared Vilhauer about his taking over TMR in 2018. I have decided not to direct the race anymore. This is for several reasons that are quite complex and difficult to explain. But they boil down to my feeling that I was not doing enough good for the mountains or the town of Telluride to justify continuing the race. I don't live in Telluride, and even though Durango is close I am not able to be there enough to engage with the community on a deep level. Although we have always bought all our prizes and as many supplies as possible in Telluride and we have donated proceeds within the community, it's hard to feel like we are contributing enough.

I have also come to feel that Telluride already has enough events and tourists and I've started to worry that TMR is more of a burden than a boost to the community. We have had serious issues with people pulling our course markers and taking offense at our flagging, even after we introduced entirely biodegradable flagging for the offchance that we accidentally forgot one while sweeping. There was a part of me that always wanted to build TMR into a big multinational affair, but I have increasingly come to believe that small events are better for the town and the environment, to the extent that I now think it's probably best if I hold no race at all.

Nevertheless, after creating so much value within the community of mountain runners, it's hard to let go. Despite my misgivings I am deeply proud to have been able to provide a relatively safe but intensely difficult opportunity for people to challenge themselves in one of the most beautiful places in the state, and that is a powerful experience that is hard to describe. Now that I have announced TMR will be suspended this year, there has been an outcry that is actually quite touching. Runners love the race. So when Jared asked if he could take it over I told him absolutely. As you know, he is highly responsible and intelligent and just a good guy in general. Plus, he is a local, he knows the community, and he's deeply committed to putting on the race in the same low-key, sustainably-minded way that we have always tried. I trust him to continue to develop the race in a responsible way."

So there you have it: the story of TMR. It'll be back, but until then I guess you'll just have to head down to the San Juans for a few big runs to remind yourself why you do this crazy sport. This has been a difficult transition, but I'm excited to see it coming together again in a really cool way. Thank you again for all of your support. We're lucky to be part of this community