A guide to some of the best trail running events in Northern New Mexico.
Bull of the Woods Trail Races, Taos Ski Valley
With an option to race a half marathon (13.1 miles) or marathon (26.2 miles), this event caters to folks looking for greater elevation than in a typical road race. Both the Kachina Peak Marathon and the Half Marathon take runners to heights more than 12,000 feet. Run in mid-September, Bull of the Woods’ weather, views and the course itself are about as good as it gets.
For information: https://www.bullofthewoodsrun.com/
Deadman Peaks Trail Run, Cub
This early November event has been dubbed “deceptively hard and surprisingly beautiful” by its organizers. Running along the Continental Divide Trail and Rio Puerco Valley, the event features rolling hills, hoodoos, pinon forest and slick rock. Throughout all distances — the 50-mile, marathon and 30-kilometer (18.6 miles) — there are views of badlands, mesas, deserts, mountains and even some volcanic plugs like Cabezon Peak.
Endurance Santa Fe Mountain Trail Races
If you love hills, scenic views and great company, Endurance Santa Fe’s end-of-August series has you covered with an option to compete in a 50-mile, 50-kilometer (31 miles), 13-plus-mile or uphill mile race. All races start and end at Ski Santa Fe, with plenty of beer and music for post-race celebrations.
For information: https://www.endurancesantafe.com/
Jemez Mountain Trail Runs
The event offers 15-mile, 31-mile and 50-mile distances in late May. It’s not uncommon to see even the most hardcore runners walking some of the rugged, sharp inclines, while each downhill is seen as an opportunity to kick in some speed. The race starts and ends at the Posse Lodge, North Mesa in Los Alamos, and meanders through various landscapes, providing picturesque views of Los Alamos and surrounding areas.
For information: https://www.jemezmountaintrailruns.org/
La Luz Trail Run
Arguably one of the most famous trails in New Mexico, and among the “12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America” by Trail Runner Magazine, this 9-mile beast summons runners to climb 4,000 feet, following a 12 percent incline from the foothills of the Sandia Mountains to the Sandia Crest. To be an “official finisher,” entrants must complete the run in five hours or less. There are 400 slots available and entry for the early August race is determined using a lottery.
For information: https://trailrunner.com/event/la-luz-trail-run/
Mt. Taylor 50K
Following narrow trails and jeep roads located 90 minutes west of Albuquerque near Grants, this 31-mile race in September challenges runners to reach the La Mosca Lookout before sunrise. Weaving through high mountain meadows, runners make their way to the summit of Mount Taylor.
For information: http://www.mttaylor50k.com
Taos Ski Valley Up and Over 10K Trail Run
Don’t let the 10K distance (6.2 miles) fool you — the Up and Over is a tough one. With more than 2,600 feet of elevation gain, this September event takes runners all over the Taos Ski Valley area.
For information: https://www.taosskivalley.com/trailrun/course
The Big Tesuque Trail Run
Hosted by the Santa Fe Striders since 1985, this 12-mile, out-and-back race is a fall tradition. The race begins at the iconic Aspen Vista trailhead in Hyde Park, climbing from 10,000 feet to heights above 12,000 feet. Offering views of famed golden aspen trees during early October, it’s the ideal race for autumn.
This 32.3-mile race in Jemez Springs made its debut in September 2018, stirring excitement across Northern New Mexico. With nearly 7,500 feet in elevation gain and 5,700 feet of descent, the course is challenging mentally and physically. Following burn scars along the Jemez landscape, the run eventually reveals a vast view from the fire tower. The race is open to 30 runners who have completed a mountain ultra race prior, but there is a 5K option as well.