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High Country Running Imogene BLE

Chris Gomez and Billy Cordasco at the finish of Imogene Pass.

Thinking back on my first Imogene Pass Run, last weekend in Colorado, it’s the feelings I remember: frustration, elation, defiance and acceptance; fierce joy in my body’s willful endurance as I kept placing one foot in front of the other; compassion for my body’s pain as the one (monster) hill took its toll. Gratitude for all of it: the people who helped me train, the race organizers and volunteers, the mountain and its sublime soul.

I’ll never forget the moment we broke out from forest shadow into sunshine, the line of runners creating a dragon’s tail of animated flowing color. And then there are the lessons learned; about the race, the trail, and myself. Here’s one: I’m competitive by nature, so although I could have slowed down on the climb in order to have functional leg muscles on the flip side, I didn’t. I reached Imogene Pass, looked around in awe, gulped a drink and grabbed some carbs.

Then, wary of freezing up if I gave myself time to get scared of the next two miles, I resolutely turned away from all that glory and sugar and started down.

Now, of course, I’m second-guessing that decision. Maybe with more food and a few minutes of stretching, my legs wouldn’t have tightened like guitar strings on that hellacious downhill, and I wouldn’t still be avoiding stairs days later. But would stopping longer at the pass really have helped? I may have to go run it again and see.

Did I just say I’m thinking about running Imogene again? Maybe that’s what I have learned: This epic run from Ouray to Telluride gets inside you, and once it does, you have to return. That could be my Imogene story; one of them, anyway.

What’s yours?

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I’m more convinced than ever that everyone who takes on the Imogene Pass Run comes back changed, with new knowledge of the mountains and ourselves, with stories to tell. Maybe it’s a photo that speaks volumes. Maybe it’s a sarcastic poem about how “fun” this run is. Maybe it’s a Facebook post that captures the trail’s essence for you.

Whatever form your story takes, I want to see, hear or read it. Myles Schrag and I are collecting Flagstaff’s stories in a book to be published next year called, “To Imogene: A Flagstaff Love Letter.” If this project excites you, send us an email or drop by our table today at the Flagstaff Running Community Picnic (at Foxglenn Park starting at 3 p.m.).

The deadline for all contributions is October 26, 2018, but they don’t have to be in final form by then. Writing is a lot like running -- a coach can help you achieve your goal. Myles and I love to help people tell the stories that matter to them, and we’ll work with everyone to create something that’s personal, meaningful and uniquely Flagstaff.

So how about it? What’s your Imogene story?

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Julie Hammonds is the coordinating editor of High Country Running. Send your Imogene stories (photos, poems, tweets, etc.) to her at or to Myles Schrag at


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