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Golden Leaf Half Marathon 2024

September 28

trail runners at golden leaf half marathon
Last Updated April 2, 2024

Chosen by Trail Runner Magazine as one of “America’s 14 Most Scenic Races” and Colorado Runner Magazine as a top Half Marathon, the Golden Leaf Half Marathon is one of the most beautiful and one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Rockies. Aspen Parks & Recreation, Aspen Snowmass Events & Experiences, and Ute Mountaineer present the event in late September in Aspen, Colorado, at the height of Colorado’s fall color season - this is a destination course that is as challenging as beautiful. The event has a runner cap of 750 runners, making it

Event & Course Info

From the bustling Snowmass Village to Aspen's serene heart, participants at Golden Leaf Half Marathon get to relish the mountain trails and roads at their fall peak. Starting at about 8,650 ft elevation in Snowmass Village, the route climbs briefly before diving into the Government Trail – a picturesque single track that winds through the aspen forests and meadows between Snowmass and Buttermilk. Navigating dirt roads, rocky terrains, and a series of ascents and descents, the course culminates at Koch Park in Aspen. The diverse trail features, from embedded rocks and roots to potential wildlife encounters, reinforce the essence of a backcountry race.

There is a seven-wave start kicking off at 8:00 am, and the 2023 event introduces two hydration stations, the first at mile 4 and the second after mile 8. However, it's advisable to come well-hydrated and consider bringing extra hydration supplies. Given the race's competitive nature, there are cut-off times: 1 hr 10min at the 4-mile mark and 3 hrs 10min just after mile 11.A delicious lunch from Slow Groovin BBQ awaits participants at the finish line, a delightful reward after a grueling run. The post-race festivities include a raffle and awards ceremony. Cash prizes await the top three male and female finishers, and gender and age-group-specific awards are also up for grabs.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

Aspen, Colorado, is a beautiful mountain resort town with many events annually and participants of the Golden Leaf Half Marathon are highly encouraged to make a long weekend out of the event. There are a wide range of hotel options depending on your budget, including the Limelight Hotel, The Gant, St. Moritz Hotel, and the W. There are also plenty of vacation rentals to explore if you prefer a more home-like experience. In addition to hotels and resorts, participants can go camping or stay at an RV Park near Coulter Creek, Willows on Coulter Creek, and an RV Camp Site. Basalt and Carbondale are two towns close by that could also be explored for more accommodation options.

To celebrate a successful trial run, participants and supporters can try out several local restaurants in the area. Aspen boasts a culinary scene that beautifully marries its mountain heritage with upscale sophistication, offering a rich tapestry of gourmet eateries, rustic bistros, and innovative fusion restaurants that reflect the town's blend of native tastes and global influences. The alpine resort town lures food enthusiasts with its array of seasonal farm-to-table dishes, decadent mountain comfort foods, and a plethora of international cuisines, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Rockies.
Bosq and Betula are fine dining options in the heart of Aspen's downtown area, while Meat & Cheese and Spring Cafe are two of our personal favorites for a casual bite. Hickory House is known to have an excellent BBQ, local to Colorado, and is a few blocks from downtown.

Aspen and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley are a mecca for outdoor athletes participating in the event and supporting friends and family. For those who may want to do some warm-up runs before the race or just leisurely hikes, Aspen boasts an extensive network of scenic trails that cater to both trail runners and hikers. The area is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, including breathtaking mountain vistas, alpine meadows, and serene forests. Trails like the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop and Cathedral Lake Trail are great ones to check out, in addition to the trails that are part of the course loop. Aspen is a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts, with a multitude of trails suitable for various skill levels. Riders can explore the renowned Snowmass Bike Park, which offers thrilling downhill trails and features like jumps, berms, and technical sections, while Government Trail, Tom Blake, and Skyline are local favorites. Road cyclists will also pinch themselves with the riding options right out of town, from taking on the challenge of climbing Independence Pass, riding to the ghost town of Ashcroft, or to the stunning Maroon Bells. Lastly, with the Roaring Fork and Arkansas Rivers in close proximity, whitewater rafting and kayaking are also top favorite activities (more so in summertime) for those who love exploring the outdoors.

Related Events

There are two other top trail running events that take place in the Aspen/Snowmass area: the Aspen BackCountry Marathon and Heavy Half and Power of Four Trail Run, which are part of the Power of Four Series. For the multi-sport athletes out there, be sure to put the Snowmass 50 on your bucket list as it is also local and is one of the Best Mountain Bike Events in Colorado and the Rockies, and be sure to return in the winter for the prestigious Power of Four skimo race. Keep your eyes out for new Strambecco best-in-class road and gravel cycling events coming to the area.

snowmass to aspen trail running course map
snowmass to aspen trail running course map
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