VAIL — Most running races throughout the summer in Vail feature two consistent elements: runners go up and runners come back down. This Memorial Day weekend, the Vail Valor Races will stick to the valley floor for varying distances over mostly flat, fast and paved terrain.
Providing a distance for everyone, the races will feature a canine cross-country run on Sunday afternoon, followed by the main spectacle of racing Monday morning with their mountain marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 5-mile run/walk and 1-mile family fun run.
Organized by locals Carl and Cynthia Bruggeman’s Speckled-Hound Racing, the Valor Races will benefit the Vail Veterans Program.
“It’s important to the Vail Veterans Program that people really know what Memorial Day is all about,” Cynthia Bruggeman said. “We are glad to bring the community together for something on Memorial Day and put on an event that has something for everybody.”
Last year, the races had a number of injured military athletes out running, including single and double amputees running on prosthetic “blades” and veterans being led by service dogs.
The event will stick to its roots this year by having veterans present a short talk on what Memorial Day means for them at the awards ceremony.
Going up against the festivities this weekend, the Valor races hope to draw a crowd by providing a different sort of running race not normally seen in the Vail Valley’s history of ruthless trail running.
The Valor Races will be road races.
The course for the half-marathon will start in Vail Village and run east, instead of up, toward the East Vail neighborhoods. Racers will cross onto the bike path and continue east before turning around and looping back to the village.
The marathon will consist of two laps of the half-marathon course. The 5-mile and 1-mile course will also start in the village and run an abbreviated route on the course in East Vail.
“I love road racing,” Carl Bruggeman said. “It is faster and more like a true running race than some of the other events seen up here.”
The only non-road race will be the causal canine cross-country event held Sunday afternoon where people are welcome to bring their dogs and cruise on undulating dirt terrain. A “yappy-hour” will be held on Vendetta’s patio following the race.
“This is one of the great social elements of the weekend and the precursor to Monday’s races,” Cynthia Bruggeman said. “The yappy-hour will also be open to the public.”
Carl Bruggeman was out marking the courses for Sunday and Monday, and he took note of how beautiful the area is in the spring and said that racers will be able to see, smell and hear summer on its way.
“We take this course for granted because we live here, but when you look around you realize that this is a beautiful place,” Carl Bruggeman said. “The Gore Range is stunning. The leaves are budding and the flowers are blooming. Gore Creek is full and flowing. The waterfalls in East Vail are raging — you can hear them on the course.”
Last year, 192 runners competed in the first Vail Valor races. This year, the goal is more than 200.
“We’re seeing pretty good numbers right now,” Cynthia Bruggeman said. “The races are unique and got good reviews from last year. We’d like everyone to show up, elite or not elite. We have the varying distances, terrain and events for that reason.”
With the flatter format and varying distances, runners of all categories will be able to see one another out on the course and at the finish line.
“It will be great to see everyone out running,” Cynthia Bruggeman said. “The marathon loops back through the village so all the racers will be able to encourage them and cheer each other on.”
Interested participants can register at Active.com.