The Devil's Backbone
With a name like “the Devil’s Backbone,” this race will deter all but the hardcore, sweat-smelling, Gu-loving, suffer-fest fans of the running persuasion from their quest for personal victory. This is the fifth year of the Devil’s Backbone ultramarathon, located along the tops of the picturesque Gallatin Range. The July 14th event starts and finishes at the Hyalite Peak trailhead near Grotto Falls in Hyalite Canyon, with a midway turnaround near the Windy Pass Cabin. Nearly all of this 50-mile race is above 9,500 feet on a rocky, twisting, yet stunningly beautiful trail with glorious views of the surrounding mountains. The race is virtually unsupported, with only a few snacks and liquids available at the mid-way mark. Tom Hayes, race organizer, cautions that this “CANNOT be your first 50 miler,” and “this course is much, much harder than you expect.” Bears, elk, and mountain lions have all been seen during the race in past years, and the exposure along the ridge (nearly the entire race) makes possible thunderstorms potentially hazardous to participants.
Participants can run the race solo or as part of a relay team. Both male and female records were set in 2005, with Mike Wolf finishing in 9 hours flat, and Shelly Wunsch completing the course in 12 hours, 53 minutes (Wunsch was spotted cycling and refueling at the Stockyard Café the following day, without a hint of stiffness!). Volunteers are needed to help support this race for the adventure-driven, and you will be more than repaid for your time by the amazing vistas from nearly everywhere on the trail.