Original Growler – 2017 Update Page (last updated May 25th)


GROWLER KID’S RACES: Scroll to the bottom of this page for complete details, or click HERE.

PACKET PICKUP: 3-9pm Friday and Saturday May 26th and 27th will be at Western State Colorado University in the Mountaineer Field House: 700 E. Gothic Ave, Gunnison, CO 81230. As determined by popular vote, all competitors will receive an event t-shirt. DIRECTIONS: From Highway 50/Tomichi Ave., turn north onto Colorado St., go 4 blocks then turn east on Gothic Ave. Go around the roundabout and park, the Mountaineer Field House is the huge building to the northeast and enter through the southwest doors nearest the parking lot. Google 700 E. Gothic Ave. in maps or check out the link above.

THE GREAT GROWLER FOOD DRIVE! The Original Growler is a BYOB Race: Bring Your Own Bag. We try to eliminate waste and clutter by not providing you with any spiffy disposable or reusable bags that nobody needs. Please bring your own, preferably filled with non-perishable food items for the Original Growler Food Drive. Last year we killed it with this and our local food bank was forever grateful for your generosity. The Gunnison Food Pantry will also be on course providing you with support on the pavement after the Powerline descent.

GUNNISON HIGH SCHOOL MTB TEAM BAKE SALE – The Gunnison High School MTB team will be at packet pickup selling all kinds of goodies to help support their campaign to compete in the Colorado League of NICA.

RAIN: First, the weather for 2017 looks to be great. However, if it does rain, you will most likely get wet. The Original Growler is an all weather race. It poured rain before and during the race in 2009; in 2014, it rained most of the night prior to the Full Growler and in 2015 the story was the same for the Half. The first part of the course, especially the roads, on those days certainly had their moments. However, all thing considered, Hartman Rocks rides pretty well when it’s wet. Most of the soils are non-clay, decomposed granite. The race organization and/or the BLM may cancel the race do to weather but this hasn’t happened yet! All riders need to be dressed appropriately and be prepared to ride in the conditions on race day.

LIGHTNING: For 2017, there is a 20% chance of thunderstorm for the weekend. Lightning is wholly unpredictable and a very common in Colorado. Each of you make your own decisions about how best to stay safe in the event of a sudden electrical storm. If lightning starts striking nearby, do whatever you need to do to stay safe. Most of these storms pass quickly.

Many trails in the Growler course are on hilltops or on large flat planes. Please be aware of the weather around you and where you are heading and make good decisions.

Canceling the race when riders are spread all over the course is not practical, not to mention impossible to communicate. We reserve the right to suspend or alter final results if thunderstorms materially alter rider’s ability to continue on without seeking cover. But, all parts of the race will stay intact and resume operations once each storm cell has passed. Ride aware at all times, especially after storms, as volunteers sometimes bail from their positions.

Follow all rules of the road and be safe and prudent if you approach an intersection, blind spot or other potentially dangerous situation while riding, that is unmarshaled.

Since these storms come and go, the course, finish line, aid stations, etc., will stay in place and active, except when they are under siege from an active electrical storm cell.

Be safe, make good decisions. Don’t let you competitiveness overrule your safety. Again, this is the Growler, not the tour de France.

PARKING: Please, no parking on Main St. or in the first block off of Main St. These are two-hour parking spots and you will be ticketed and possibly towed. There’s plenty of street parking adjacent to the finish that’s just one block or more off of Main St. A great parking lot is two blocks west of the start across the street from the Post Office.



THE START: The Growler is a mass start event, meaning everyone rolls out at the same time. The start is neutral behind law enforcement until you hit the dirt at Hartman Rocks. Neutral means you cannot pass the lead-out law enforcement vehicle. This law enforcement vehicle may drive slow or fast. HINT: the law enforcement vehicle usually goes pretty fast on Gold Basin road toward the dirt. The finish on the pavement is untimed but mandatory (see below for further details). Racing begins for real when you hit the dirt at the entrance to the Hartman Rocks base area. The course is about a 32-mile loop on your BLM public lands that brings riders back to the Hartman Rocks base area, where the timed finish/lap line is located.

The timed finish line is on the dirt at the Hartman Rocks base area. WE ARE NOT RACING BACK TO DOWNTOWN GUNNISON.

However, riding back to downtown Gunnison on the pavement is mandatory but untimed (continue reading for further details). Follow yellow arrows back to downtown or go by your campsite or hotel first and then head for downtown.

CLOTHING DROPS ON COURSE: You can drop clothing used to start at the Skull Pass aid station. This place is marked with a sign: “CLOTHING DROP,” but it’s at a fast place and the sign is small. Please be prepared. We’ll get these items back to downtown after the the race.

LITTER: Please don’t drop wrappers, gel packets, etc. (AKA garbage) on the course, except at designated aid stations. Feel free to unload your gel packets and other garbage at these locations so we can pick it up. You can also drop gel packets, etc., (if you must!) next to course marking arrows on wooden stakes. PLEASE DON’T JUST DROP YOUR GARBAGE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE ON ROADS OR TRAILS. LAME!!!!

FINISHING IN DOWNTOWN GUNNISON: If you finish the entire course and get your booty back to downtown Gunnison, you will have your choice of finisher’s memorabilia: choose either a mug or a medal. You will also be handed $10 of hard, cold cash. Any of three food vendors there will give you a plate of food in exchange for your $10. Or, packet the cash and dine at your leisure anywhere. The High Alpine Brewing Company will be serving their brew and water and non-alcoholic beverages will be around and there will also be a sweets table set up to curb your sugar craving after lunch if you need it. We’ll be calling up the top three finishers overall and per race category each day so if this is you, have your photographer ready to snap a shot of you on the great, flat Growler podium. Award’s each day are as follows:

Half Growler Awards: Around 3pm, Saturday.

Full Growler Awards: Around 5pm, Sunday.

REMEMBER: The Original Growler is for experienced mountain bikers only and takes place in rugged, isolated backcountry terrain. While your safety is our priority and we have a robust EMS plan and experienced and trained personnel, responding to and evacuating an injured rider could be time consuming and difficult. Riders must possess the skills and judgment necessary to assess difficult and challenging trails and roads and negotiate them in a safe manner. NO BEGINNERS, PLEASE! For comparison, the general character and difficulty of the trails and roads in the Original Growler is similar to those of the BLM Mack Ridge Trail System near Fruita, CO: Mary’s Loop, Lion’s Loop, Horsethief Loop, Steve’s Loop, etc.

Each day of racing at the 2017 Original Growler is capped at 350 riders. We could easily start 500 or more but there’s a ton of singletrack out there, much of it either fast or technical. Too many riders on course at once is not conducive to quality racing and riding. Even so, the Growler will bottleneck early in the race. Please be patient, respectful and smart if you find yourself at a standstill. Riding off of the trail to pass is not cool. Also, if a gap opens in front of you and you look back and notice that you are the engine of a long train of riders, please step off of your bike, move over and let these faster riders by.



The Original Meowler Kids races:

Calling all young mountain bikers from Striders on up that want to participate in the Gunnison Trails Growler weekend but just don’t quite have the legs for a full 32-mile lap.  Here’s the scoop for the first annual “KIDS MEOWLER”…

Please meet us under the picnic table pavilion at the Hartman Rocks base area at 8:30 am on Saturday, May 27 for FREE REGISTRATION!  Here you’ll get a number plate and sign a quick release of liability waiver.  Don’t forget to bring snacks and a water bottle or hydration pack. Helmets and closed toed sneakers required, sunglasses and bike gloves are highly recommended.

The first race will go off at 9:30 for the Strider riders as well as those just transitioning to pedals. For this one lap/short course race, we ask that parents accompany their child with no brakes or those who are still a little shaky.  There may be a “mandatory dismount” to get down one short hill. Suggested age range for this race is 3-5 years old.

The second race start will be at 9:45 am and will also be on the short course. This race is intended for kids that are confident pedaling and more experienced on two wheels. This race will be approximately 15 minutes long. The suggested age range for this race is 5-7 years old.

The third race start will be at 10:10 am and will also be run on the short course. This race will be for even faster kids with more proficient bike handling skill and fitness. This race will be approximately 20 minutes long. The suggested age range for this race is 7-9 years old.

The final race start will be at 10:20 am and will be on a longer course for our oldest and fastest kids. Riders registering for this race must have solid descending skills and endurance for longer laps with more climbing. This race will be approximately 30 minutes long. The suggested age range for this race is 9 and up.

All finishers will get a medal and we will have healthy post-race refreshments at the start/finish area. Please contact Amy at [email protected] with any questions.