Eagle Ranch’s Mountain Rats Festival returning in September | VailDaily.com

Eagle Ranch’s Mountain Rats Festival returning in September

Special to the Daily
The Mountain Rats Festival has expanded to include mountain bike races.
Courtesy photo

The sixth annual Mountain Rats Festival will be taking over Eagle Ranch on Sept. 17 and 18, in a bigger and better fashion.

The festival, which began in 2016 with a variety of trail running challenges, has expanded to include mountain bike races, a bit of friendly competition with an Amazing Race through Eagle Ranch and now a daytime festival on Capitol Street between Founders Avenue and Sylvan Lake Road. The festival will feature bike clinics, bootcamp workouts, kids’ road and bike races, local vendors and food trucks, and live music featuring Eagle’s own Trees Don’t Move.

As Mountain Rats has evolved, its role in the community has been solidified. The races attract hundreds of athletes to Eagle’s trails, and the growing festival brings together locals to celebrate what makes getting outside in Eagle so special. “Mountain Rats is all about fall in the mountains — enjoying fun and adventure in our town and on our trails,” event organizer Clark Gundlach said. “With the start and finish line in the heart of Eagle Ranch, it’s a great way to connect with friends and family and experience what Eagle is all about.”

The Mountain Rats Festival features a variety of trail running challenges and an Amazing Race through Eagle Ranch.
Courtesy photo

But Mountain Rats and the rigorous athletic challenges it provides aren’t just about testing endurance and making it to the finish line. “We want to celebrate wellness of all kinds in our community,” Mick Daly, principal marketing director of Juice Plus+, one of the event’s sponsors, said. “Physical wellness, yes, but also the emotional wellness that comes with connecting with one another, and the mental wellness that spending time in nature can provide.”

Competitors and participants agree — and it’s part of what keeps them coming back. “The benefit of living in Eagle has so much to do with having access to the outdoors, along with a small, like-minded community,” local athlete Karen Jarcow said. “It hits every note of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Whether it’s the challenge of a race or daily access to nature in solitude or with a friend, Eagle is a home base I feel very fortunate to be woven into.”

Whether they’re competing at events like Mountain Rats or simply keeping their bodies moving, Eagle’s athletes have found something special on the trails. “I think of exercise as a sacred space — similar to how many view meditation,” climber Sullivan Cohen said. “Finding a project and conquering its challenges, through a combination of fitness and problem solving, is what keeps me going, especially when life gets stressful.”

Runner Bryan Kery enjoys the opportunity to tune out distractions and focus. “What I love most about running is how grounding it can be when everything else seems out of control,” he said. “Movement reminds me of where I am — rather than where I’ve been — and connects me with my surroundings. It is meditation in motion, and I’m so grateful that I can lean in when things are hard and nothing else seems to make much sense.”

Mountain Rats is seeking additional sponsors for the weekend, as well as vendors to join the community-focused festival and share both their goods and their passion with the Eagle Valley.

Please visit MountainRats.com to sign up for races or to get more information about sponsorship and vendor opportunities.

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