The Imogene Pass Run board of directors held its annual meeting on Oct. 28 to discuss the status of the iconic race, now in its 42nd year.
On Sept. 12, 1,277 runners completed the 17.1-mile run from Ouray to Telluride. The race first debuted in 1974 when a group of six local runners followed Rick Trujillo across the 13,114' pass and descended into Telluride in just over 2 hours and 21 minutes. Throughout the '80s and '90s the race continued to grow in popularity, but it was not until 2001 the number of entrants exceeded 1,000 runners. Winning times over those years ranged from almost three hours in the years when weather impacted the trail at the summit (sometimes as much as 8 inches of fresh snow at the summit) to the course record set by Matt Carpenter in 1993 with a time of 2:05.56. In recent years the number of women entering has nearly equaled the number of men, with the women's course record being held by Keri Nelson with a time of 2:35.49.
Now, with online signups and registration capped at 1,600 entrants, the race typically sells out within 45 minutes, with a few local stragglers entering by mail in the weeks before the race.
A hallmark of the Imogene Pass Run is both the level of community involvement in helping to put on the race as well as the amount the run gives back to the community by way of donations to various community organizations on both sides of the pass. Over 200 volunteers man the six aid stations on the course as well as help to pass out runners' bib numbers before the race, organize the starting area in Ouray, and assist the runners at the finish line in Telluride. Several of the aid stations are manned by local high school runners and athletes from schools on both sides of the pass.
At their 2015 annual board meeting, the seven board members elected to distribute over $60,000 from the race revenues to community organizations and scholarships to local students. As in past years, the track and field programs at the Telluride, Ouray and Silverton High Schools will each receive $5,200 to help purchase equipment for their teams. The Girls on the Run Program for the Western Slope will also receive $2,000.
Local Nordic and downhill ski programs from Telluride, Ridgway and Ouray will each receive monetary contributions of as much as $2,500, while various area search and rescue squads, including those in San Miguel and Ouray counties, receive donations in recognition of their service on the mountain during the race.
In addition to donations to community organizations, the Imogene Pass Run sets aside money each year to fund scholarships to local track and field/cross country athletes from area schools. Last year, the board awarded $15,000 in college scholarships to eight area runners from Ouray and Telluride. This year, the board again committed to fund scholarships for students and established a long-term dedicated scholarship fund of $50,000 for future recipients. The board looks forward to receiving applications for scholarships in the spring of 2016.
Alpine Bank continues its generous financial support of the race that allows the race organization to continue to generously give back to the community.
The board elected to raise the entrance fee for the 2016 race from the current $75 per runner to $80 per runner to reflect both the higher costs associated with the race, as well as to ensure that the race can continue to donate almost 50 percent of its annual revenues to scholarships and local organizations.
The next running of the event will be on Saturday, Sept. 10 and registration will open in early June 2016.