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I love running in long races. Even if I’m familiar with the route or trail, there’s something about running when there are other people around you trying to do the best that they can. And that’s the case regardless of whether you’re running in the front, middle or back of the pack. (Well, I assume that’s the case at the front of the pack, I don’t really have any firsthand knowledge.)

But sometimes I’m up for a challenge when there’s no convenient race around. Or I don’t want to deal with any of the pressure or nerves that I can’t seem to shake when I line up at a race. And sometimes spending $50 or $100 or more to enter a race just isn’t going to happen.

(Heck, if you feel like spending $100 to run for the day, consider giving it to me and I’ll mule for you for you the best I can….)

So I do a “Solo Ultra.” If I really want to longer than 26.2, there’s no reason I can’t do it whenever I want (schedule permitting). Why wait for a race?

The key is just figuring out what I want to accomplish (lots of climbing? just time on my feet? testing gear or hydration/fueling ideas?), and how I can do it without support. Most often this means picking paths or routes that have water available along the way; usually that means public drinking fountains, or grocery stores or fast food restaurants when the water’s turned off for the winter.

So the most recent one I did was a roughly 50k route in Longmont. Just about all of the course is multi-use paths and sidewalks that didn’t cross very many intersections. Of course, starting very early on a Sunday morning also means much less traffic to watch for.

I was able to get water at the public park fountains roughly at mile 7, 15.6, 19.4, 23, and 25.9, which was adequate. I threw in a fair amount of walking (particularly at the end), but I figured there’s no such thing as a DNF when you do a solo ultra – there can only be a change of plans where your workout isn’t quite as long or as fast as you’d originally hoped.

I hope to come up with some additional courses that would work well as a solo ultra.

Can anyone in or near Boulder County suggest any routes they’ve run and enjoyed?