We’ve been running for three and a half days now, passing through valleys aglow with yellow aspen groves. We’ve summited lung-busting peaks reaching almost 12,000 feet and hobbled among rocks beside slate-colored lakes. But suddenly my group, a small scrum of amateur endurance athletes, is presented with an unexpected challenge: How do we cross 30 feet of pavement?
That’s the question our guide Rickey Gates poses the only time we hit a road for the entire duration of the 100-mile Hut Run Hut in September. It’s a trek he leads every summer through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, following a delicate network of trails that’s absolutely baffling in its beauty. Gates, who hides an impish sense of humor under his bushy mustache, asks us to cross the Top of the Rockies Byway by any manner other than running—because we’ve been running for days, and we’ll be running for days to come. “So, what’ll it be?” he asks. “How you gonna cross it?”
Many of us are middle-aged and graying, all of us old enough to know better than to undertake this journey. We can’t quite decide how to cross the two-lane road, which runs from Aspen to just past Minturn, Colo. Make like zombies dragging our damaged carcasses? Nope, already done by other Hut Run Hutters. Hmm. Well, beyond running on dirt for days, our group has spent a fair amount of time hopping from rock to rock across creeks. Not a single one of